mardi 27 septembre 2016

Anthropocene and transhumanism / Augustin Berque

Proposed to FIVE : Designing Media Ecology, special issue Anthropocene.

Anthropocene and transhumanism

Augustin Berque

Abstract. Watsuji’s concept of fûdosei 風土性 may be rendered in two ways. As it is generally understood in Japan, it could be translated with countryness : the fact of being proper to a given region or country. In that sense, it seems to concern essentially premodern societies; but as Watsuji himself defined it (“the structural moment of human existence”, ningen sonzai no kôzô keiki 人間存在の構造契機), and as, accordingly, I translated it with mediance, in other words the dynamic coupling of Being and its milieu (fûdo 風土 or kansekai 間世界, not to be confused with the environment, kankyô 環境), this concept is not only homologous to the pairing (Gegengefüge) revealed by Uexküll between the animal and its milieu (Umwelt), but its validity appears to be universal and transhistorical.
Now, this structural moment of human existence has been foreclosed (locked out) by the modern ontological paradigm in the process of abstraction and dualisation, negating any mediance at all, which at the same time gave rise to the two antithetic poles of the modern subject and the modern object, and correlatively reduced the environment to an objectified mechanism. It is this process which entailed the Anthropocene: altering the environment to a degree which, by now, attains a geological scale. This is not all. Through the same process of objectification, the modern subject has begun to change profoundly its own animal body; this is what we call nowadays trans- or posthumanism. I question here that strange logic, in which foreclosing abstractly mediance leads to illustrating it concretely, and the ontology of that which, anew, manifests itself in the dynamic coupling of Anthropocene and transhumanism