Fragment on Biomorphic Posthumanism


Biomorphs are always speculative or ‘critical bodies’, experiments in unliving. Posthumanism, unbound, provides a speculative deployment of life without limiting it with any vitalist distinction between life and matter or mechanism. It is a conceptual abattoir.
Perhaps, some will remark that my use of ‘speculation’ here is disturbingly reminiscent of its financial sense. Perhaps ‘unbinding’ concedes too much to the ways Capitalism is terraforming the Earth? Rosi Braidotti and Francesca Ferrando distinguish the ‘perverse’ post-anthropocentrism of advanced capitalism – with its constant disruption of boundaries and species – from the ‘good’ posthumanism that recognizes the distinctive existence of all life (Roden 2014, 184-5; Braidotti 2013, 60-1; Ferrando forthcoming). However, I argue here that the posthuman is perverse to its core. It does not give us an ethical purchase. Its notion of life is so generic, empty and anti-teleological (counter final) that it cannot tell us either what life is or what we (that is, any living collective) should become. It makes no philosophical decisions, including ethical ones. It biomorphizes ethics by making forms of existence: whether through capitalist or non-capitalist means. In this sense, perhaps, posthumanism is an expression of the technological logic of modernity, including capitalist modernity, as a variant of non-philosophy. However, as stated, it is structurally aesthetic in that this making is self-explicatory. To put it otherwise, posthumanism is not art and has no aesthetics, but the arts can exhibit biomorphisms, the production of life or unlife without prior conceptual models.

Braidotti, R. 2013. The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity.

Ferrando, Francesca. (Forthcoming). Philosophical Posthumanism. Bloomsbury.

Roden, David. 2014. Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human. London: Routledge.

5 thoughts on “Fragment on Biomorphic Posthumanism

  1. Why non-philosophy? Wouldn’t it be better to just recognize the biomorph as a visible form of the non-conceptual autonomic processes of the universe as seen from our meagre localism (i.e., we as humans are bound within the conceptual seeking to know and understand the non-conceptual truth of things?).

    1. The non-philo bit is not intended in the Laruellean sense. It exploits certain contrast and affinities with his work. I agree it can be seen in that way and it’s a position I develop in some detail in the published version of my piece on Brassier and improv, out later this month in Performance Philosopher.

      Here’s a fuller summary (from the text in progress) of those differences:

      “The first is methodological. Unbinding does not begin axiomatically from the undisclosed void of the posthuman future – it begins within philosophy as epistemological arguments and thought experiments (dark phenomenology, hyperplasticity, etc.) which imply our limited grip on that future.
      Secondly, whereas the NP operators are both radically empty and unary, the posthumanist equivalent – disconnection – is binary (Laruelle 2013, 129 ff). It is a line of alteration – a morphism to borrow the terminology of Category Theory – extended from the anthropological bios (the ‘we’, ‘our’ practices of sense making) to something determinable only outside philosophy, by that morphism (the posthuman); a line to something that may be our extinction, or may not be alive, or may not conform to any of our fragile concepts of life, thought or agency.
      The bracketing of philosophy’s claim to sufficiency is a direct consequence of Unbounded Posthumanism when taken to the limit, since it forces us to relinquish constraints (phenomenological, formal or linguistic) on the space of posthuman agents, minds or worlds. There is no longer a model of thought, meaning or subjectivity that affords a starting point from which to constrain this ‘unbounded’ which remains open though no longer understood as a space or totality. Here, we might draw further analogy from Badiou’s set-theoretical conception of Being as an inconsistent multiplicity or void that is ‘not-one, nor composable of ones’ (Badiou 2006, 56). However, since there is no ontological conception of this non-totality along Badiouian lines, we must navigate it differently.”

  2. It is the extreme negativity of an either/or orientation upon reality. It literally is like going to the Renaissance fair for actually existing in the world. It’s like those Ren fair people who make it their life to go to Renaissance fairs into work at Renaissance fairs.

    Sheridan in a certain sense it is reality, but in the same sense that being a computer programmer is real. The difference is that they do everything “creatively anachronistic” To the extent that it fits in to the ultra secular of what reality can be in the postmodern sense.

    But the only truth that I can lay claim to is in so much is we except that whatever anyone does in the world or when anyone says about what they think in the world can be true, which is to say that reality is a post modern fantasy.

    I’m not entirely sure what your argument is except to define maybe what post human can be.

    But I don’t think it really says anything about my life or about my existence except that there are these people who are able to think in this way and make arguments to their case.

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