A blog from the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

Tired of the human?

Pär SegerdahlI have on several occasions encountered what could be called: impatience with the human. Haven’t we been humans long enough? Is it not high time that we stopped to perceive the world from our parochial human perspectives, where the sun “rises” every morning and warms us – as if it cared about us!

We speak of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal flora, as if they took care of us as our inner servants. But what do they care about us? We are grossly anthropocentric. It is time to leave this human idyll and become… posthuman. – At least in serious, intellectual contexts.

The parochial illusion in which we supposedly live is often associated with language. Millennia of human endeavor have been deposited in linguistic structures that constantly repeat the same old spectacle in front of our eyes: the world as seen from a human point of view.

The time is ripe for a revolt against our homespun linguistic tradition; for the construction of new materialistic language, free of inherited folk perspectives on a fundamentally indifferent universe, and on us. – At least in serious, intellectual contexts.

The only problem is that even language, if we are to be consistent, must be a piece of folklore. Entities like language, words, statements, and meanings obviously belong to – if we are to be completely consistent – an oral tradition where we, for utterly mundane purposes, talk about “language,” “words,” “statements,” and “meanings.”

It suddenly seems unexpectedly difficult to go beyond the human. There is no language to rebel against. Or the illusion is too powerful: we cannot even speak of resisting it without relying on it. For the very idea of a ​​revolt, the exciting feeling of being near the truth or on its track… is this not all too familiar, all too human? Even more folklore, then?

Perhaps we should rather be impatient with this metaphysical intellectualism, which not very clear-sightedly – it seems – dreams of beholding an absolutely pure reality.

We continue to be humans who sometimes, for various purposes, describe a material reality and take it into account. – Even in serious, intellectual contexts.

Pär Segerdahl

This post in Swedish

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  1. amalmatarcrb

    will we one day be able to understand non human languages? maybe that is the beginning to what you are discussing in your blog?!
    In a way, we react to dogs barking. I recall one time, a dog in the next door was barking in such a sad and anguishing manner I was soo affected I wanted to go and knock at the door and ask their holders…why is he in such pain! do something about it.

    • Pär Segerdahl

      Yes, we are a bit “double-minded” about animals. We doubt that we can know “what goes on in their minds,” but we do respond!

  2. nannus

    Our point of view is subjective. Nothing forces us to take the point of view of the universe or of our genes. From our point of view, our point of view is the primary one.
    Of course it is interesting intellectually to try to look at things from some other point of view, but each point of view we could take is a subjective choice. There is no “natural” point of view that we have to take. So which way of looking at things would we adopt as a posthuman way of looking? And from our subjective human point of view, we could ask: what is that good for.

    • Pär Segerdahl

      Thanks for good comment! Indeed, which point of view? It cannot even be God’s point of view, if he died before the human did!

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