Call for Proposals: Limits and Boundaries of the Posthuman


Lo Sguardo – Journal of Philosophy
Call for Proposals 


N. XXIV, July 2017
edited by Giovanni Leghissa, Carlo Molinar Min,
Carlo Salzani

The term “posthumanism” was used for the first time in the critical sense that entered then common language by Ihab Hassan in 1977. In its almost four decades of existence, posthuman theory has witnessed several evolutions, transformations and refinements, not least because this concept does not name an homogeneous and compact field, but is rather a “discourse” in the Foucauldian sense, a multiplicity of different streams, heterogeneous and fragmented, held together by a basic idea: the notion that old humanism is over. This issue of “Lo Sguardo” intends to attempt a sort of assessment of the last four decades, in order to analyse the limits and boundaries of the concept of posthuman. The leading thread of this issue is thus the question: what is still alive and topical, today, in the question of the posthuman? What themes and trends have progressively run out, and what instead have come to the foreground? How did the questions, and most importantly the answers, to the problem of the posthuman evolve?

The question of technology, that is of the hybridization between human and machine, is still for many the most “showy” trait of the posthuman, both in popular culture and for the common understanding within academia; and yet the triumphalism of a certain posthumanism – and above all of its transhumanist deviations – alienated a number of scholars, starting precisely with one of the “mothers” of posthuman theory, Donna Haraway. The fact remains that the levels of technology’s intimacy and intrusion into the human have, if anything, enormously increased since A Cyborg Manifesto (1983), and so have also the oppositions to it (Habermas, Fukuyama), and this keeps raising inexhaustible ontological, ethical and aesthetic questions (decisive are here Bostrom’s reflexions).

By contrast, a question that has become more and more central is that of the “animal,” to the point of causing a veritable “turn” – the so-called “animal turn” – within humanities. The interdisciplinarity (or multidisciplinarity) that characterized posthuman research in a distinctly technological direction, orienting it primarily towards hard sciences (notably cybernetics), opened up also to disciplines such as evolutionary biology and ethology. Even the aesthetic repercussions of the debate on the posthuman witnessed various evolutions within literature, cinema, plastic arts and media, but they are still one of the most interesting fields of investigation.

In this respect, this issue of “Lo Sguardo” intends to explore the question raised by the definitive overcoming of the dichotomy nature/culture: to rediscover the animality of homo sapiens means in fact to realize how the modification of the environment, through the construction and use of prostheses, has always been an integral part of our relation to the external world. Long before the invention of the microchip, human beings have benn engaged in the construction of artefacts, and precisely here emerges the commonality with the other living beings: there is no species that does not modify its own ecological niche, any more that is modified by it. In that sense, the posthumanist paradigm cannot but establish a dialogue with those currents in contemporary neurosciences that focus on the issue of brain plasticity, enactivism, and the question of extended cognition. This does not mean to forcedly enlist into the ranks of posthumanist thinkers authors such as Varela, Gibson, Clark or Hutto; it means, however, that one should start from them in order to rethink the question of the human place within the cosmos beyond any old-humanist claims conceiving cultural and technological evolution as something necessarily occurring after biological evolution.

An area of investigation that appears to have been left quite to the margins is the political aspect, or more precisely the economic-political aspect of the posthuman. Most investigations, in particular those oriented towards technology, show, implicitly or explicitly, a pronounced political neutrality. And yet the impact of the posthumanist transformation upon economic-political questions is a fundamental issue: contemporary capitalism non only easily adapted to the socio-cultural transformation of the last decades in a post-gender, post-race, post-species, etc. sense, but rather pushes them towards in-human excesses, whereby the global economy unifies everything under the imperative of neoliberal biopolitics, cantered in the idea that every individual is free as long as he or she constitutes a “business enterprise” implementing its own capital of expertise, desires and ambitions. There exist, therefore, a question often hastily set aside, but that remains central and unsolved: what should take the place, after humanism, of its abstract universalism?

However, the theoretical framework of posthumanism allows to extrapolate some useful hints. A posthumanist ethics, precisely because it pays attention to the cultural invariants determined by the evolution of our species, helps us reading in an innovative way the link which binds them together. In this respect, the term “entanglement” results certainly pertinent, insofar as it enables us to grasp the ecological aspect of specific long-term social dynamics, which never appear separated from one another: intraspecies aggression, since the Neolithic organized in the form of war, is intertwined with our violent relation towards the other species, treated in such a way as to deprive their representatives of any emotional dignity; closely related is the oppression of women, both at a symbolic and political-legal level, as well as religious beliefs, which organize, within the sphere of imaginary, those distinctions between what is “one’s own” and what is “foreign” that underpin the political distinction between friend and enemy.



Procedure: please send to the email address, an abstract of up to 4000 characters, including the title of the proposal and a description of the essay. All the proposals will be evaluated by the editors and our readers. The result of the selection will be notified to the authors by August, 1st 2016. Accepted proposals will be received by the editors within a new deadline, which will be communicated to the authors with the outcome of selection, and then subjected to a double blind review.

Call for proposals

“Lo Sguardo” invites researchers and scholars from philosophy, sociology, literature, media studies, cultural studies, animal studies and related disciplinary fields to contribute to the 24/2017 issue, by taking up one of three possible topics:

CFP /1 – The posthuman today: a historical and conceptual appraisal. This section will feature papers focused on a historical and conceptual recognition. Papers in this section may explore the history and evolution of the concept of posthuman in the various disciplines and can attempt somehow to propose a partial or overall evaluation.

CFP /2 – Hybridizations: biology, ontology, ethics and aesthetics: This section will feature papers focused on the evolutionary, ontological, ethical and aesthetic implications of the concept of posthuman, always taking into account the specific focus of this issue of “Lo Sguardo,” that is, the “limits and boundaries” of the posthuman. In posthumanist reflection, these thematic areas can hardly be separated, but the papers can focus more on one area, or also consider them all together.

CFP /3 – Politics of the posthuman: This section focuses on the question of politics. Possible starting points are the questions: how did the various posthumanisms respond (or not respond) to the questions of politics? What remains after the deposition of humanism’s abstract universalism? What is, or what could be, a posthuman politics?

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Lo Sguardo è un progetto full open access. Puoi scaricare gratuitamente tutto il nostro archivio, ma saremmo lieti di ricevere un piccolo contributo tramite PayPal.
Sostieni Lo Sguardo
Support Lo Sguardo
Lo Sguardo is a full open access project. You can download all the articles for free, but we will be glad to receive a little support through PayPal.
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