Course Details

Course offered Winter 2019

HONORS 397 A: Human/Transhuman/Posthuman (SSc)

HONORS 397 A: Human/Transhuman/Posthuman (SSc)

SLN 15358 (View UW registration info »)

John (Jack) Whelan (Foster School of Business)

Credits: 2, c/nc
Limit: 15 students

Credit Type

The Western humanist tradition has presupposed the existence of the individual free Subject. Such a notion has been under attack by post-structuralist and Posthumanist thought with wide-ranging implications for political discourse and shaping contemporary ideas about human identity. This seminar will seek to understand the evolution of ideas about what it means to be human from secular rationalist and anti-rationalist perspectives as well as from Western and non-Western religious perspectives.

In a weekly, two-hour seminar format, the course will give students the opportunity to engage with the work of a wide variety of thinkers and artists so that they might become acquainted with the dynamic cultural landscape that is profoundly changing what it means to be human.

The themes for each week are listed below. The instructor will provide background information and resources to acquaint students with the different perspectives they will encounter, but the main goal of the course is to provide an opportunity for lively discussion around a topic that is of central concern for all thoughtful human beings: What do you think it means to be human?

Week 1: Overview of Course Goals: Our Postmodern Condition
Week 2. Deconstructing the Self 1: From Nietzsche to the Post-Nietzschean Anti-humanists.
Week 3: Deconstructing the Self 2: Buddhist and other Non-Western Perspectives
Week 4: Personalist Humanism: From the Renaissance to the Romantics
Week 5. The Rationalist Project: From Enlightenment Humanism to Technological
Week 6. The Disenchantment with Rationality: The Poststructuralist Critique of the Enlightenment
Week 7: Religious Humanism: From Kierkegaard to Buber and Beyond
Week 8: Eschaton as Upload: The Body, Gnosticism, and the Posthuman
Week 9: The Human Social-Political Future: Markets, Marx, or Something Else?
Week 10: Wrap