Course Details

Course offered Winter 2024

HONORS 398 A: Human/Transhuman/Posthuman (A&H, W)

HONORS 398 A: Human/Transhuman/Posthuman (A&H, W)

SLN 21952 (View UW registration info »)

John (Jack) Whelan (Foster School of Business)

Credits: 3, c/nc
Limit: 20 students

Credit Type

NOTE: this is a 3 credit course so will only count towards UW general education requirements, not Honors core curriculum.

This course is as a continuation of Honors 211a: “The Disenchantment of the West: From Shakespeare to the Coen Brothers” but can be taken without Honors 211a as a prerequisite. If the Diesenchantment course focused on the shift in the social imaginary of Western societies from premodern to modern, this course will focus on the shift in their imaginaries from modern to postmodern. The course content will primarily focus on the intellecutal history of North Atlantic societies in the 19th and 20th centuries to the present moment in the early 21st century. 

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 our ideas of the human.

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 will be 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?

This is a profoundly important question for students engaged in business, engineering, computer science, and the natural sciences to consider since the work they will be doing in their disciplines will have enormous consequences in shaping the answer to this question.


Weekly themes:

Week 1: Disenchantment and the Possibility of Renchantment

Week 2: To Inifinity & Beyond: Idealism & Romanticism

Week 3: The Capitalist Imaginary: Classical Liberalism and Neoliberalism

Week 4: The Breakdown of the Liberal Order 1: The Avant-Garde and the Revolutionary Left

Week 5: The Breakdown of the Liberal Order 2: Structuralism and Post-Structuralism

Week 6: Social Justice Warriors: Redefining the Left

Week 7: From Taoism to Neoplatonism: The Persistence of Post Axial Wisdom Traditions

Week 8: AGI, Biotechnology, Cognitive Science, & Possibilities for Human Self-Transcendence

Week 9: Utopian and Dystopian Futures: Imagining Human Self-transcendence

Week 10: Metaphysical Imaginaries for the Future