The Posthuman Condition as a Re-turn of Deconstruction: Rosi Braidotti’s Post-Heideggerian Approach to Deconstructing “What it Means to be Human”

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In the “Introduction” to The Posthuman, Rosi Braidotti poses a series of “main questions” that serve as guiding lanes of philosophical/theoretical inquiry for the book—these four questions all hinge, more specifically, on the meaning of the following question: “what is the posthuman?” As Braidotti suggests, in asking this question, or even proposing the possibility of such a concept, this means that there are “intellectual and historical itineraries that may lead us to the posthuman.” What this means, then, is that the “posthuman”—as an idea related directly to what Braidotti calls the “posthuman condition”—has been a spectre looming behind “a crucial aspect of our historicity.” This historicity can be viewed as a semiotic chain of meaning-making events—these “intellectual and historical itineraries,” as Braidotti calls them—lead humanity to an event of Deleuzean immanence, whereby becoming “posthuman” develops out of the existential need to deconstruct and re-define what it means to be human as “being.” In effect, what it means to be human means, for Braidotti, recognizing that “being” is not teleological, but transformational. There is no final Aristotlean cause to what it means to be human, since “being” transforms itself through progressive phases, by which “being” is always becoming.

Becoming posthuman means re-thinking about what it means to be human and actuating “being” as ever-changing, ever-progressing ontology—it means, then, making re-turns to deconstruction. Braidotti’s notion of the posthuman is an ontology of becoming, attempting to reconceptualize human metaphysics—like Heidegger’s Being and Time and Derrida’s post-Heideggeian notion of freeplay in the concept of structure, Braidotti’s project deconstructs and decentralizes what it means to be human by delimiting “being” and focusing on the actuality of “being” in a Husserlian life-world. Braidotti’s posthuman approach views the life-world as “boundaries between the categories of the natural and the cultural [which] have been displaced and to a large extent blurred by the effects of scientific and technological advances.” What it means to be human is not structured around any specific Kantian categorical imperatives, but is, more accurately, epistemologically construed through the progressive proliferation of ontologies about the concept of the human. In other words, as Braidotti suggests, “the effects of scientific and technological advances” have allowed what it means to be human to venture from the narrow to the inclusive—this sort of decategorization is Braidotti’s “posthuman condition,” which is a distinctly deconstructive condition of what it means to human.

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