Beyond Humanisms Rafael Capurro

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Beyond Humanisms

  • Rafael Capurro

  • International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE)

  • 2010 Uehiro/Carnegie/Oxford Conference

  • „Information Ethics: Future of Humanities“

  • December 8-9, 2010


  • Who are we at the beginning of the 21st century?

  • Hominisation and humanisation

  • Dwelling or ethos in a shared world

  • Do we need a new kind of humanism?

A Short History of Western Humanisms

  • Socratic Humanism:

    • Mythical messages
    • An incomprehensible being
    • hermenés = messengers of the gods
    • angelos/angelía = messenger / message
    • Bottom-up theocentrism

A Short History of Western Humanisms

  • Christian humanism(s):

    • „good news“ (euangélion)
    • The Catholic Church and Martin Luther
    • Religious humanisms

A Short History of Western Humanisms

  • Humanisms in Renaissance and Modernity:

    • Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494): „De hominis dignitate“
    • René Descartes: „which kind of life shall I choose?“
    • „Spiritual Exercises“ (Ignatius of Loyola)
    • „Passions of the soul“
    • The mind and the body

A Short History of Western Humanisms

  • Immanuel Kant:

    • „homo phaenomenon“ and „homo noumenon“
    • „intellectual beings“
    • „dignity“ („Würde“) and „price“ („Preis“)
    • The „true self“
    • The „moral law within me“
    • Pragmatic Anthropology

Beyond Humanisms

  • Donna Haraway and Katherine Hayles

  • Human enhancement

  • Nick Bostrom‘s „transhumanism“

  • Bostrom & Savulescu: „are we good enough?“

  • Synthetic biology

  • What is posthumanism?

Beyond Humanisms

  • Rosi Braidotti: zoé and bíos

  • Bruno Latour: „we have never been modern“

  • Martin Heidegger‘s „Letter on Humanism“ (1946): „I wonder whether that is necessary“

  • Humanisms and the humanum

Beyond Humanisms

  • The anamorphic switch from ‚is‘ to ‚as‘

  • Hans Holbein: The Ambassadors

Beyond Humanisms

  • Decentering the anthropocentric attitude of humanisms

  • An uncanny call

  • On charlatans

  • On -isms

  • The ideology of digital metaphysics

  • On blocking the dynamic of the ‚as‘

Beyond Humanisms

  • Luhmann‘s „Mitteilung“

  • Lacan‘s „object“ of human desire

  • Heidegger‘s „hermeneutic circle“

  • The „angeletic circle“

  • Lacan‘s „crossed“ subject


  • Message society

  • Ecocide

  • a de iure united and de facto divided humanity

  • Humanity and humanities

  • Beyond humanisms


  • Sei Shōnagon (清少納言) (ca. 966-1017)

  • The Pillow Book (枕草子 Makura no sōshi)


  • 仏は、薬師。如意輪(によいりん)の人を渡しわづらひて、頬杖(つらづゑ)突きて嘆き給へる。いと哀れにかたじけなし。

  • Hotokeha Yakushi. Nyoirinn no hito wo watashi wazuraite tsurazueo tsukite nageki tamaheru, ito ahareni katajikenashi.


  • „Among the Buddhist gods, Bhaisajyaguru (the Healing Buddha) is the best. Nyoirin Kannon is the most impressive and gracious one too. Nyoirin Kannon holds the head with the hand, deeply immersed in the nature of the human soul and in the ways on how to save it.“ (Sei Shōnagon)

  • (transl. by RC and Makoto Nakada)



  • Source:

  • 如意輪観音像 大阪・観心寺 平安時代前期


  • ファイル:Bodhisattva Chuguji

  • Source:


  • The Buddha is thinking ABOUT the human – beyond metaphysical fixations. S/he is deeply immersed in this QUESTION. S/he does not have a definite humanistic answer also concerning the wishes, including ‚transhuman‘ ones, of humans that s/he is supposed to fulfill.

  • So do I – being much less than the Buddha.

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