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Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Sauwelios
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Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

#1 Postby Sauwelios » July 8th, 2015, 5:16 am

In listing the reasons Leo Strauss gives for why the West has lost its purpose, Shadia Drury writes:

    "Fourthly, the West has lost its purpose because the modern project is without direction. In the beginning, the modern project was directed to the relief of man's estate. It therefore presupposed that man has a nature with given needs, the satisfaction of which gives the modern project its rationale. However, the conquest of nature led to the conquest of human nature, and this undermined the assumption which gave the conquest its goal, and which also sets limits to the modern project. Once human nature is regarded as part of the nature to be conquered, 'the natural needs of men could no longer direct the conquest'. Recent debates on genetic engineering are an excellent example of the aimlessness to which Strauss points." (Drury, The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss.)

Human beings can contract pneumonia. In the beginning, the modern project would, among other things, concern itself with curing pneumonia and preventing people from contracting it. However, what if we could, by means of genetic engineering, change human nature so that it's impossible for human beings to contract pneumonia? But then, why shouldn't we change human nature so that it's impossible for human beings to desire to conquer nature? That would end the conquest of nature just as surely as the completion of that conquest would. We can either change non-human nature so as to suit our needs, or change human nature so as to no longer have those needs. To take this to the extreme: the complete extermination of the human race would end its suffering just as surely as its perfect happiness would. So as soon as people start conquering human nature, all fences are down.

Now this is taking it into the extreme--if not into the absurd. Obviously, the conquest of human nature is not directionless. Actually, it is for the sake of a certain part of human nature that other parts of human nature are being conquered. In fact, it was also that part, and not the whole of human nature, for whose sake the conquest of non-human nature was promoted in the first place. It is what Nietzsche would call the human, all too human part or the herd animal part. In other words, the "humanist" part.

Now a humanism worthy of the name could of course not be concerned solely with a part of human nature, but would have to be concerned with the whole of human nature, including its beast of prey part. Any "humanism" that seeks to conquer part of human nature for the sake of another part is by that token already transhumanism. A humanism worthy of the name must be a superhumanism, in the Nietzschean sense: concerning itself with the full human being, including its terrifying and questionable aspects.

To this end, it is necessary to affirm eternal return. For the only way to assign binding limits to modernity's conquest of nature is, paradoxically, to will its eternal return. After all, anything less than its absolute affirmation would be a saying Nay against it, and thereby itself a call to conquer nature: for modernity's conquest of nature arises "naturally" from the nature of human herd animals. Indeed, modernity's conquest of nature is essentially the conquest of the nature of nature, which is conquest... A "war to end all wars"!
"The superman's willing of this eternal return is possible only if his will can emancipate itself from hatred of its past, a hatred responsible for modern egalitarian demands to be liberated from that past." (Harry Neumann, Liberalism.)

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Altfish
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Re: Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

#2 Postby Altfish » July 8th, 2015, 12:10 pm

Any chance of having a translation of that, I may be a bit thick but I've read it twice and don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about??

I could do with definitions of...
superhumanism
Nietzschean superhumanism
transhumanism
eternal return

The word 'humanism' seems to be being used out of context, it would make more sense (to me) if the word was 'humanist'.

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Sauwelios
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Re: Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

#3 Postby Sauwelios » July 9th, 2015, 3:21 am

Altfish wrote:Any chance of having a translation of that, I may be a bit thick but I've read it twice and don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about??

I could do with definitions of...
superhumanism
Nietzschean superhumanism
transhumanism
eternal return

The word 'humanism' seems to be being used out of context, it would make more sense (to me) if the word was 'humanist'.


If we follow Merriam-Webster in saying that humanism is "a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values", then superhumanism is a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on superhuman interests or values. Now by saying "Nietzschean superhumanism" or "superhumanism in the Nietzschean sense", I meant to make it clear that I'm not talking about divine interests or values or about interests or values relating to some non-Nietzschean superman--a superman in a non-Nietzschean sense--, for example the Nazi superman.

It seems the terms "transhuman" and "transhumanism" cannot yet be found in most major dictionaries. Here's an introduction to transhumanism:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTMS9y8OVuY[/youtube]

Compare:

    "Nature, we may say, has become a problem owing to the fact that man is conquering nature and there are no assignable limits to that conquest. As a consequence, people have come to think of abolishing suffering and inequality. Yet suffering and inequality are the prerequisites of human greatness (aph. 239 and 257). Hitherto suffering and inequality have been taken for granted, as 'given,' as imposed on man. Henceforth, they must be willed. That is to say, the gruesome rule of nonsense and chance, nature, the fact that almost all men are fragments, cripples, and gruesome accidents, the whole present and past is itself a fragment, a riddle, a gruesome accident unless it is willed as a bridge to the future (cf. Zarathustra, 'Of Redemption')." (Strauss, "Note on the Plan of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil".)

That future is future human greatness in general. As a bridge to that, the recurrence of "the gruesome rule of nonsense and chance" must be willed. Eternal return is the same as eternal recurrence. I wrote "eternal" because absolute affirmation requires exact historic recurrence. I was really thinking of large-scale historic recurrence in general, though. Thus Harry Neumann writes:

    "Modern thinkers culminating in Nietzsche made men aware that human creativity or technology was not limited by anything. Nietzsche feared that contemporary egalitarians would employ this unlimited power to create a world of universal peace and equality. He yearned for a superman whose will to overpower nihilism and egalitarianism would use modernity's immense power to create the eternal return of the past's inequality and wars. Then there would be no wars to end all wars." (Neumann, Liberalism.)

This would also be vouchsafed by large-scale historic recurrence, at least for a few millennia or so: for example, by "those natural cataclysms which ensure that humanity will not fall final prey to human inventions, those beneficent cataclysms, cataclysms of grace, whose goodness toward humanity consists in their annihilation of civilized human life and the enforced return of humanity to its natural primitive conditions from which the earth can again be repopulated and recivilized." (Laurence Lampert, Leo Strauss and Nietzsche.) The only alternative to awaiting or engineering such a cataclysm would be a "spiral dynamic" in which the current, "humanist" phase is not succeeded by the most primitive phase but by the higher-tier equivalent of that phase. That higher-tier equivalent could then be followed by the higher-tier equivalents of the later phases as well, for example the Homeric phase, the Platonic (or Vedantic) phase, and our current Machiavellian-Cartesian phase.

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Altfish
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Re: Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

#4 Postby Altfish » July 9th, 2015, 8:40 am

Well beyond me, back to 'Janet and John' I think :smile:

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coffee
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Re: Nietzschean superhumanism versus (trans)humanism.

#5 Postby coffee » September 1st, 2015, 10:34 am

PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTMS9y8OVuY


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