Sartre and Posthumanist Humanism (Beyond Humanism: Trans- and Posthumanism / Jenseits des Humanismus: Trans- und Posthumanismus)
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In recent years, calls for a new humanism have arisen from a variety of voices across the spectrum of philosophy, expressing frustration with outdated models of the human that cannot account for the richness of our social being. The postmodern deconstruction of the human now requires a reconstructive moment. In response, the author articulates a new and explicitly posthumanist humanism using the framework developed by Jean-Paul Sartre in his later Marxist-Existentialist works. Sartre’s unique dialectical and hermeneutical methods allow us to reconceptualize the human beyond traditional dichotomies of individual/social and freedom/necessity. The author argues that the individual and the social should be understood as existing within a dynamic, co-constituting interrelation, and that individual autonomy is not at odds with, but rather fundamentally enabled by, the social.
calls this praxis “re-externalizing,” and not merely “externalizing.” This is because each re-externalization is grounded in and en166 Ibid., 56. 167 Ibid., 100. 168 Thomas Flynn, “Mediated Reciprocity and the Genius of the Third,” in The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Schilpp, ed., 352. 66 abled by meanings that have already been internalized. Since all human praxis relies upon the social context of Objective Spirit that has already been taken in, the meanings we express do not
later social philosophy. Does Sartre’s understanding of scarcity as a permanent element of the human condition, rather than as a contingent problem that could be corrected by socialist revolution, doom our relationships to permanent alienation? Recall the discussion of scarcity and alienation from Chapter One. There we learned that Sartre believes that scarcity results in violence. But we also learned that Sartre differentiates between various kinds of scarcity. He claims that it is conceivable
toward our situation, and in this case, that means toward our conditioning and class identity. The conditionings of class that limit comprehension may predispose a person to a certain sort of attitude, but this is not fixed in a hard and fast way. It is possible within any one class to find a wide spectrum of levels of selfknowledge in relation to class identity, and of awareness of the conditionings taking place. It is up to the individual to take the identity of class-being and to give it his
Sartre describes race in this sense as a “primary reputation” which precedes an individual.318 In this case, the reputation is a black identity which is imposed on the black man. 316 Iris Young, “Gender as Seriality: Thinking about Women as a Social Collective,” in Feminist Interpretations of Jean-Paul Sartre, Julien Murphy, ed., 217. 317 Flynn, Sartre and Marxist Existentialism, 99. 318 Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew, 74. 123 Within this framework for understanding race, the color
concrete experience. After developing Sartre’s notion of seriality, I apply this to an analysis of three social identities in particular: class, gender, and race. Again, this exploration of the details of the individual’s experience of the social, here in terms of social identity, leaves us with a rich understanding of freedom and necessity in the human condition. What I aim to show, then, is that the framework for understanding the human that Sartre develops in his later Marxist-Existentialist