Here you will find the journal of a Queer, Mormon, Transhumanist.

A More Posthumanist Transhumanism

A More Posthumanist Transhumanism

There are many things transhumanists could learn from critical posthumanism. While transhumanism often reinforces anthropocentric ideas of posthumanity, transhumanism need not be limited to an anthropocentric future. I argue transhumanists should adopt a more posthumanist vision of posthumanity with the essential idea that we have always been posthuman and continue to be more posthuman. A more posthumanist future means we continue to blur the boundaries between humans, non-human animals, nature, and technology. I focus primarily on the work of Donna Haraway and use her vision of the Chthulucene as a posthumanist trajectory. Essentially, a more posthumanist transhumanism means we recognize non-humans as subjects rather than simply objects to be acted upon.

First, I begin by discussing what transhumanism is and its diverse interpretations and variations. Next, I introduce posthumanism and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene. Then I demonstrate the integration of humans, technology, non-human animals, and nature. You might note I have divided the paper into various subcategories for taxonomic convenience. However, you might also note that these categories bleed together. One aspect will intertwine and entangle with the others as we see our anthropocentric view of transhumanism unravel. This is unavoidable from a posthumanist perspective because even the categories we use out of practicality fall short of addressing ontological complexities.


Transhumanism is the idea that we should use science and technology for the betterment of humanity. In transhumanism, the terms “posthumanity” or “posthuman” are generally used as a matter of taxonomy. For example, a human might evolve far beyond the human condition to warrant a new label, “posthuman.” Consider it this way, humans are to hominids (prehumans), that posthumans are to humans. There are many different transhumanist and critical transhumanist visions of the future, ranging from utopian [1] to dystopian.[2]

Transhumanism is a broad movement with many diverse voices[3] [4] promoting their vision of the future. From Nick Bostrom to Max More, from Michio Kaku to Ray Kurzweil, no two transhumanists or futurists will have the same vison. Though transhumanism is thought to be a secular movement, there are also religious transhumanist groups [5] working toward transhumanist visions of the future. However, the closest thing that could constitute as transhumanist canon is the Transhumanist Declaration, [6] a document drafted in 1998 by a group of transhumanist thinkers and authors. Multiple transhumanist organizations require you sign it and agree to it to become a member. From religious transhumanists to secular singularitarians, the transhumanist movement and philosophy is far more diverse than technophile optimists. However, I think it’s safe to say self-identified transhumanists seek, work toward, and promote optimistic visions of the future which include technological advancements. Granted what is utopian for one creature might be dystopian for another creature. This is one reason why we need a more posthumanist transhumanism. Utopian visions predicated on the exploitation and subjugation of others is hardly a utopian vision worth manifesting. Transhumanist visions could becoming the epitome of humanist values, which could be both good and bad depending on which human features one values.


Critical posthumanism, like transhumanism is a broad movement with diverse thinkers. Posthumanism could be interpreted in multiple ways. As noted above posthumanism could be thought of as an ontological category which defines a being who is beyond human. Culture posthumanists might question what is “human” or “human nature” in a historical or anthropological context. Posthumanism could also be a philosophical movement which is concerned with deconstruction humanist philosophy. While these various versions of posthumanism have distinct differences, I think it’s safe to say posthumanism often challenges what is means to be human, or at least a liberal human subject.

Humanism in many regards has been a promising idea. The idea that all humans should be endowed with respect, rights, and privileges has been one that has benefited women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and other marginalized persons. Humanism has helped deconstruct and demystify various social oppressions, injustices, and hierarchies. Yet even with all our humanist endeavors to achieve some sort of equality, humanism has still fallen short. Various groups of people, such as impoverished people, are still being exploited. LGBTQ+ folks still experience systemic social injustice. Humanism has also fallen short of looking at the human liberal subject within the full context of our environment. Posthumanism challenges our taxonomies and illuminates the web of strings which connect us together. Humans don’t exist in isolation. We depend on other non-human animals, the planet, the cosmos, and our technologies. In a certain sense, humans have always been posthuman but have failed to recognize the entanglement and interdependency of our existence on other subjects, such as the earth or non-human animals.

One vision of the future I find particularly interesting and admirable is Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene. Although it is important to note that Haraway does not consider herself to be a posthumanist, she states, “I am a compost-ist, not a posthuman-ist: we are all compost, not posthuman.” [7] Yet, there is still something very posthumanist about the Chthulucene Haraway describes in her paper, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin. She describes the Chthulucene as “intense commitment and collaborative work and play with other terrans, flourishing for rich multispecies assemblages that include people.” [8] Haraway’s Chthulucene is flirting with posthuman in that it includes multispecies assemblages—this is not to exclude humans as subjects, but rather includes all critters [9] as subjects as well. The first step to the creation of a more posthumanist transhumanism is recognizing that humans are not the only subjects while everything else is an object to be acted upon. Agency isn’t just a human quality, but a quality of life. In the Chthulucene we must “join forces to reconstitute refuges, to make possible partial and robust biological-cultural-political-technological recuperation and recomposition, which must include mourning irreversible losses.” [10] For Haraway, recomposition is key to understanding our tangled past, present, and future. In her book, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, she tells the story of the Chthulucene through poesis, speculative fabulation, science fiction, science fact, and speculative feminism. [11] It is through this process we weave the fabric of the Chthulucene. This fabric is not a silk damask, but rather a rag rug composed of repurposed and recycled elements. It is my intention to tangle and intertwine our various categories to illuminate a posthumanist transhumanism for life beyond exclusively humanist aims.

A Posthumanist Spectrum

It might seem strange to argue for a “more” posthumanist transhumanism. What does it mean to be “more” posthuman? Wouldn’t it seem like we’re posthuman or not? Aren’t human and posthuman mutually exclusive categories? I argue they are not. Instead, I look at humanism and posthumanist as a spectrum. We may slide and fluctuate between these two categories upon further inquiry and understanding, but never fully living on either side of the spectrum. As humans, we have never existed alone as humans. We are part of a cybernetic system which breathes and changes. Humans have never really been human independent of technology, nature, and other critters who roam the earth. Yet, in our efforts to become posthuman it seems we can never reach our admirable, yet unattainable, goal.

For example, a human could never really know what it means to be posthuman when all views are viewed through a human lens. We run into an epistemological problem. How could a human know what it is to be posthuman? Posthuman as a matter of taxonomy is something that is created after the fact. Our prehuman ancestors, hominids, probably couldn’t comprehend what it meant to be human. Whether by lack of imagination, lower cognitive capacities, or epistemic paradoxes, a hominid could not know what it was like to be human. Similarly, humans cannot know what it is like to be posthuman. Sure, a posthuman could consider themselves posthuman in retrospect, but only in retrospect. How can a human know what it’s like to be posthuman when they are still human? How can a human think truly posthuman thoughts? Posthuman in this sense becomes an imagined goal we strive towards, but never fully reach.

Yet, regardless of what posthuman vision you’re advocating or working toward, I argue that to be human is to be transhuman. Humans have always been in transition toward something posthuman, even if that posthuman vision is the recognition of other critters who are subjective agents. Humans are technological creatures, too. We are critters terraforming the earth with unprecedented power. We have always been transhuman, suspended between worlds where we are neither human nor posthuman, or both human and posthuman. This is why I argue for a more posthumanist transhumanist. As we wander through various categories, binaries, and taxonomies, I argue we should be working to expand our transhumanist visions to include a more posthumanist perspective.

Natural Cyborgs

I use the word “technology” in the broadest sense possible. A technology is a tool or piece of information developed or discovered with the purpose to achieve a goal or task. Technology is more than laptops, phones, the internet, wi-fi, and silicone. Technology includes all sorts of tools, from hammers to screw drivers, from glue to books. Each is created with the purpose to achieve a specific task.

Arguably humans have never existed independently of our technology. When the first homosapien picked up a stick to hit a piece of fruit out of a tree, she was using technology to achieve her goals. Granted the complexity and sophistication of her stick is not tantamount to a tractor or agriculture, but this is a difference in degree not kind. Humans have always been using technology.  In a sense, to be human is to be transhuman, or in other words cyborg.

It may seem strange to consider the first homosapiens to be cyborgs when science fiction has depicted cyborgs as half-human/half-machine metallic terrors wielding weapons of revenge, but this is only one esthetic of cyborgs. Cyborgs, in theory, are everyday people like you and me. I am a cyborg when I hop into my car. The car is powerful piece of technology which I operate as an extension of my body. My body cannot travel as fast as it could with a car, but with the car I become a cyborg. Similarly, clothing makes humans cyborgs. Clothing can function as prosthetic skin to allow me to withstand freezing temperatures or other environments which would be detrimental to my health, safety, and life. Of course, there will be others who argue that putting on contact lens is not enough to make a person transhuman and humans would have to undergo gene editing or something akin,[12] but I prefer the broadest definition of technology and cyborgism because the various categories and taxonomies which would separate a human from a cyborg seem somewhat arbitrary.  Not only that, it’s too anthropocentric. Non-human animals are technologists and cyborgs too.

Technology is not exclusive to humans. The use of technology is a pattern well established in the non-human world.[13] For example, when a spider spins a web, she is using the natural elements of her environment and body to produce a piece a technology to serve the practical purpose of catching her food. The web functions as a net, a common technology also used by humans to capture food. When a beaver family works together to build a dam from timber, rocks, moss, and mud, they are using the elements of their environment to create rudimentary technologies and architectural structures. Beaver dams filter billions of tons of water every year and function as a highly sophisticate water filtration system. A caddisfly can construct their own portable casing which acts as a protective layer when looking for food. As resourceful architects, they can create building materials from almost anything found in their environment in conjunction with the silk secreted from salivary glands in the mouth. This protective casing could be thought of as armor to protect itself from predators. Even more impressive are cathedral termite mounds which are temperature controlled. Water condensation collects and cools the interior and some termites even maintain underground fungi gardens which feed the bustling metropolis that is the termite colony. The list goes on and on: bees, wasps, red ovenbirds, montezuma oropendola, weavers, and ants. These critters are natural born technologists creating tools to serve a specific goal.

Humans, too, are a part of the animal world using the elements of the environment to create tools, technologies, and dwellings to further the survival, perpetuation, and desires of our species. We, as humans, are not separate from our technology, nor are we separate from animals or nature. Humans are animals and our technologies are nature only rearranged. These may seem like bold statements, but not from a less anthropocentric or posthumanist point of view. Life is a complex web of rearranging, composting, and recomposted into various material forms. Humans are critters interacting with other critters. Critters are nature interacting with nature. When we look at a beaver damn and Hoover Dam, surely there are differences in motives, complexities, size, and environmental impact, which is why we need to be careful in applying our powers, but functionally humans and beavers are natural technologists and cyborgs. Humans just happen to have more powerful technologies.

Subjects and Objects

An instinctive reaction to the aforementioned categorical entanglement I’m suggesting is fear. It is not uncommon for humans to fear the loss of their own subjectivity or the shared subjectivity of other critters. The liberal human subject knows all too well she does not want to become an object. Objects are acted upon, abused, neglected, disregarded, and even exterminated. Humans have a history of objectifying various groups of humans as if they are a different species. Consider the objectification of black folks, women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ folks, or Jews. The subject knows she does not want to become the object, because once a subject has been objectified, all sort of horrors become possible. Ethics and morality can be discarded as we make slaves of our kin or promote the genocide of our terran siblings. To be objectified by a liberal human subject is not a pleasant experience.

Much of our dystopian science fictions plays off the fears of the liberal human subject becoming the object. For example, Planet of the Apes depicts a species reversal of humans and apes. The world is run by apes while humans are considered the lesser species. Humans know all too well the horrors we have inflected on non-human animals, especially our cousin primates. From science experiments to factory farming, non-human animals have suffered deeply at our hands. It makes sense why we would fear being compared to the animals we abuse and dominate. Another example can be seen in science fiction stories depicting nature as fighting back. In M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, nature begins to wake up and fight back against the humans who have abusively reigned over the earth. As humans have become a threat to the planet, nature fights back with vegetation that releases deadly toxins in the air. Humans quickly die as they breath in these weaponized neurotoxins. In this dystopian science fiction film, humans nor animals are the dominate subject. Nature takes her place as the vengeful dominate subject in the film and it both terrifies and intrigues audiences. What would a world be like where humans didn’t reign supreme? Another common example can be seen in science fiction depicting technology or machine intelligences as the dominate species. Consider stories like Blade Runner, The Matrix, I Robot, or Westworld. Even when humans work cooperatively with machine intelligences, humans still tend to fear the looming day when their technological creations kill the human-gods who made them.

In all of the above examples, I suspect what makes these stories interesting is that it allows spaces for humans to contemplate their own subjectivity in relation to the so-called objects around them. It makes sense for a human to fear a machine intelligence that can out-think and out-maneuver them. History is stained with stories of humans dominating, abusing, and killing other humans who had less powerful technologies. When colonizers came to America, they did horrific things to indigenous peoples. Colonialists were the subject and indigenous people were the object. We fear objectification because we have seen what humans are capable of when we deem another life as an object. When a human fears the potential objectification of humans, whether by nature, animals or technology, what we really fear is our own non-subjectivity because objects can be exterminated. What happens when humans are no longer the gods we thought we were?

A Bit of Hubris

As a transhumanist, I openly and honestly acknowledge that transhumanism is mostly concerned with humanist goals and endeavors. Sometimes our wants and desires come at the expense of other non-human animals or our planet. In our hubris, we forget that we are here at the grace of an interconnected web of life. Sure, humans are colonizers and capitalists exploiting each other and other critters an effort to make a profit, but that’s not all humans are.

Humans are capable of love, kindness, and compassion. Like other critters on this planet, we experience empathy and affection. In the Chthulucene, humans are not to be exterminated as objects. No. The opposite is the case. Humans, non-human animals, nature, and machine intelligences are to connect in a cybernetic system of cooperation. We ought to look at fish as our siblings, and trees as our cousins. We should be caring for our world with other critters in the creation of a balanced ecojustice. Humans are not in a closed system. In a decentering of anthropods, we are not exterminating humans as liberal subjects, but making room for more liberal subjects to manifest a multispecies flourishing.

Though deconstructing the liberal human subject is an admirable goal, it is not always a practical goal. For example, as a human, my life is sustained by other critters and plants. I cannot live without them. If a posthumanist vision means a future where I cannot eat my fish siblings or plant cousins, how am I to survive? If we are all animals roaming the planet why am I held to a different moral code than a lion or praying mantis? Lions eat other zebras, and a praying mantis will eat her lover. According to vegan ethics, why can a praying mantis eat her mate and it’s considered “natural” but if I were to eat my husband after sex it’s considered immoral? Veganism ethics requires a bit of hubris. If a snake were to bite and kill my child, should the snake be detained and held accountable for its crime? Should it be brought to court and put to death? No. Human moral standards are not applicable to non-human animals living out their innate instincts. Yet, for some reason, humans operate under a different moral code. I choose not to eat the animal that would eat me if it had the chance because I’m okay with a little hubris. Not only that, a little bit of hubris might be what’s needed to become posthuman in our morality and ethics concerning animals.

If humans keep consuming resources at the rate we presently are, we will run out. We are not living and consuming sustainably. Even our dietary habits are impacting the long-term sustainability of our planet. In the Anthropos, our god-like powers are terraforming the earth in harmful ways. Yet, it is also within our power to change that. We don’t have to consume as much or as inefficiently. In our hubris, we don’t simply have the power to destroy our world, we also have the power to improve our world. Not only for humans, but for other intelligences as well. Yet, that requires a little hubris because I’m not so certain other species on the planet are as concerned with our extinction as we are about theirs. Do you think polar bear would lose sleep over human extinction? I think not. Yet, as a human, I am concerned for the extinction of polar bears even when that concern is not reciprocated. While pigs may not care about whether humans are suffering or not, we ought to care about how factory farming is harming pigs and unnecessarily contributing to their suffering and the destruction of our planet.

One of Donna Haraway’s suggested slogans for the Chthulucene is “Cyborgs for earthly survival.” [14] I like this for multiple reasons. Cyborgism is not just a human activity, but a critter activity. This slogan calls upon all critters to use their technologies to promote earthly survival. Haraway also suggests making kin might be the most urgent part of manifesting the Chthulucene. If there is to be any sort of multispecies ecojustice it will be because we, as humans, have taken the lead in making kin with the other critters and life on the earth. A more posthumanist transhumanist future would include a complex genealogy of woven threads bound together in a cybernetic system. We must address systemic urgencies that threaten all life on this planet and if that requires a little hubris, well, I’m okay with a bit of hubris. If we are to create a more posthumanist transhuman vision, it will require a bit of hubris.

Notes and Citations

[1] Matsumoto, Tetsuzo. The Day AI Becomes God: The Singularity Will Save Humanity. S.I: Media Tectonic, 2018.

[2] Livingstone, David. Transhumanism: The History of a Dangerous Idea. Sabilillah Publications, 2015.

[3] More, Max; More, Natasha Vita-More; The Transhumanist Reader. Wiley-Blackwell Publication, 2013.

[4] Hansell, Gregory R.; Grassie, William; Transhumanism and It’s Critics. Metanexus Institute, 2011.

[5] The Mormon Transhumanist Association it the world’s largest religious transhumanist organization advocating for the ethical use of technology to expand human abilities.

[6] “Transhumanist Declaration.” Humanity+, 1998. https://humanityplus.org/philosophy/transhumanist-declaration/

[7] Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities: Volume 6, 2015. pp. 161.

[8] Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities: Volume 6, 2015. pp. 160.

[9] Throughout her work, Haraway uses the word “critters” to reference both human and non-human animals. I will be adopting her terminology when describing the Chthulucene and a more posthumanist transhumanism.

[10] Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities: Volume 6, 2015. pp. 160.

[11] Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, 2016. pg. 31.

[12] More, Max. “Will we become posthuman?” YouTube, August 28, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90cqkzzDT8U

[13] Ostler, Blaire. “Technology is Nature.” Queer Mormon Transhumanist, May 2, 2018. https://www.blaireostler.com/journal/2018/2/13/technology-is-nature

[14] Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities: Volume 6, 2015. pp. 161.

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