The Art of Being Posthuman

What is “posthumanism”? What does it mean to be “posthuman”? And how might one practice it as an art?

One point that philosopher Francesca Ferrando is quick to make is that “posthumanism” is not the same as “transhumanism,” “anti-humanism,” or “meta-humanism,” but refers to those movements among others in contemporary philosophy, including “new materialism” and “object-oriented ontology,” while redefining a distinct ethical space. In fact, there are many different posthumanisms

Her new book, The Art of Being Posthuman: Who Are We in the 21st Century? (Polity, 2024):

… offers a comprehensive reflection on the existential condition of the 21st century. A visionary introduction to existential posthumanism, it takes the form of eight meditations. This journey of posthuman self-inquiry engages with a wide range of knowledge, ancient paths of wisdom and the latest developments in science and biotechnologies. Being posthuman in the 21st century entails awareness of inter-being: from the Paleolithic times to the futures of radical life extension, from our multi-species coevolutions to the rights of Nature, the Anthropocene and the rise of Artificial Intelligence. The book declutters the habit of being human as individuals, societies and a species. Letting go of the need for anthropocentric mastery and species-specific ambitions, the reader emerges regenerated. The manifold paths of posthuman self-realization will reveal that we are all co-creators in the existential unfolding: our lives are our ultimate works of art. The Art of Being Posthuman is a self-help guide to navigate our brave new world.

On this thread, and in the associated Cosmos Café dialogues, we’ll participate in a series of “meditations” with Ferrando, starting with the introduction to her book, which is available as a free download on (or via the link under “Reading / Watching / Listening” below).

Next Session :eyes:

Thursday, April 4, 2024 at 12 pm MDT (view in your time zone)
Video conference: [] –

This Café is open to all Cosmos members—or anyone interested in becoming a member, or even just testing the waters. Our live talks are free-flowing, organic, and inclusive, and anyone may comment on the thread below.

Reading / Watching / Listening

Book_The_Art_of_Being_Posthuman.pdf (548.9 KB)

Seed Questions

  • What does the terms “human,” “humanity,” and “humanism” mean to you—and why might we need to go “post-” those terms?
  • What do you think “posthumanism” means, and what might be its value as a philosophical concept?
  • Do you think people are ready for posthumanism? Which people?
  • Could you see yourself as “posthuman”? Do you already?
  • What does art have to do with it?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Attn: @ccafe & @cosmos-members

The dialogue on 3/7 will be recorded and posted on this thread for further comment.

If you plan to join us for the live talk, please RSVP by replying below.


Looking fwd to participating. Andrea

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Hi all! Happy to be receiving this invitation as a new (re-new) supporting member of Cosmos. :yellow_heart::sparkles:

I have a scheduling conflict March 7th at noon, but I really want to be here for this, so I’ll see if I can move or shorten what I had, in order to join!

My up-to-date email is Please RSVP me (is that how this works?) :smile:

Looking forward to it very much.


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Greetings everyone,

If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I should be there too,



Whatever comes Next is Rooted in the Quality of Our Attention we give to Movement
in “The Ever Present Origin” ?

A Friends piece that seems to be for me a Portal to what next?

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I’m very much looking forward to our talk today. It’s been fun getting to know Ferrando’s work. She has an infectious energy. I’ve also been intrigued to discover that she’s been in conversation with Debashish Banerji (whom I’ve interacted with in the context of the Sri Aurobindo community) on a number of occasions.

Here’s a relatively brief and interesting talk between the two:

I imagine this also helps explain why the word “integral” keeps popping up in Ferrando’s book.

Lastly, before our talk, I just want share one little “creative misreading” of The Art of Being Posthuman that feels thought-provoking. Lately, when I see the word “posthuman” I can’t help also seeing the word “posthumous,”—which I think opens up some interesting questions, such as, “What is the relationship between death and the post-human?” Do we need to “die” to our identity as human in order to awaken to whatever is beyond it?

The art of being “posthumous” also brings to mind the piece by J.F. Martel that we just published:

I’m sure we’ll get to talking about all this and a lot more in just a little while…


Yes to the posthumous! Donna Haraway touches on this with her concept of com-post… life and death co-existing all the time.


I’m super excited about this! I’m not able to attend at that time, but will likely follow along in this asynchronous portal.

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Thank you @achronon, @andreavdl, @care_save, and @Michael_Stumpf, for the wonderful discussion and “meditation” today.

And @Catiearms, glad you’ve dropped in! (Better asynchronously than posthumously, for now :wink: )

As it happens we talked about the same “com-post” of which you speak. When you get to know us, you’ll find that we’re always taking “compost,” in the best sense. :poop:

Here is the recording for anyone who would like to follow along:

Our next session will take place on March 21st at 12 pm MDT, when we’ll be contemplating and responding to Meditation 1 of Ferrando’s book, the chapter titled “Posthuman Self-Enquiry.” Others are welcome to join us anytime; the more the merrier. Feel free to invite your #posthuman friends.


Since I’m not able to attend during the scheduled time, I thought I’d share my thoughts via voice memo.


How very nice to (literallly) hear from you , Catie. Welcome to the conversation, and thank you kindly for recommending the book to Marco.

I enjoyed your musings on the words “post” and “human” and how they are still being infused with connotations after so many millennia, particularly the author’s wranglings with the terms.

According to my old Stowasser (the one-time standard Latin-German dictionary … at least back when I had to do my Großes Latinum (as a requirement for my graduate degree in Anglistic philology) many moons ago) post is a simple adverb that means “behind” (spatially) or “after” (temporally); as a preposition it means “behind”, and “after” or “since”. In particular, the preposition “since”, in English, is also used as a marker for the use of the present perfect tense which is the one that describes actions beginning the past but ongoing or continuing into the present: it links the past to now, but given how much we (post) moderns are more future-yearning, it is not surprising that the meaning is getting “pushed” beyond the present.

Curiously enough, the Latin humanus comes from the Old Latin humi which simply means “of the land (or ground)”; and to this day, “humus” describes particularly rich or fertile soil (and ties in tidily with Marco’s “posthumous” musings). Of course the suffix “-us” reveals that it is a masculine noun, and as you point out was strongly related to propertied patriarchs (the father in the Roman family was considered the owner of the entire household and land), even if it was used to describe people, persons, generally. It’s obviously schlepping a lot of baggage around which some, like Ms. Ferrando are trying to get past (no pun intended). It simply takes a while for word meanings to shift sufficiently that they become effective for new usages.

For my part, I – as is my wont – am partial to the simplest approach and had the feeling that this was primarily Ms. Ferrando’s intent as well: We had a variety of ideas that constituted our general understanding of “human”, which we have found to be too restricting, so it is time to start expanding that understanding, so for me the “post-” was a pretty straightforward way to go at it. As Marco noted, I too think the prefix/preposition “meta” has been trashed, so I feel relatively comfortable falling back on a simple, if even somewhat overused, “post”. As you have pointed out and as I understand things: history matters and we never get outside of it, but being aware of it can be quite helpful at times.

As I mentioned at the meet-up, I’ve ordered the book, it should arrive today or tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to the 1st meditation for the next meeting. Should be fun.


This is the article that inspired that language I used on the subject of meeting /Attuning where
Others are at & we are within…
Interesting this study took place in Israel?
I also Feel that Participating in Cosmos Cafe’ is & has been a place (even though a Cyberspace) to Engage with in practicing this Attunement in the Mist of
Composting this Living Present Moment?

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@Catiearms, good to hear your voice; thank you for the thoughtful response. Your notion of the “post” as “including yet going beyond” the past makes perfect sense to me, even though it seems to me we need to bend the prefix itself to get it to mean that. Which is OK.

After all, here we are, writing “posts” on this forum—so, needless to say, the same word in different contexts can be mean different things. As T.S. Eliot wrote:

[…] Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

—from The Four Quartets, “Burnt Norton”

Your comments also got me to realize that, in the recorded conversation, I had failed to adequately articulate what was irking me about the term—it has to do with time, and particularly the sense that what is “post” is what comes after in historical time. So, we have humanism, and then we have posthumanism…

Just like we have the 20th century, and then we have the 21st. But what could me more “humanistic” (in the philosophical tradition of the so-called Western Enlightenment) than the notion of linear, historical progress, with what comes later being implicitly or explicitly(!) better than what came before: from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from barbarism to civilization, and so on.

Eliot again, from a few lines earlier in the same poem:

Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. […]

THAT SAID, I (think I) still totally get and appreciate what Ferrando is pointing us to—if we’re looking at intellectual history as a progression from less adequate to more adequate ideas; it would be similar to how the US Constitution first granted voting rights to white males, but now those rights are extended to all US citizens, regardless or sex or skin complexion. That sense of progress (or as you put it, “moving forward”) is real and important.

Yet, I wonder if there are other ways to go beyond the negative aspects of humanism (or to preserve its positive aspects)—other directions we can go: not only forward but also backward, not only forward or backward, but also upward and downward, inward and outward; not only in historical time but in “untimely” (timeless, or time-free) consciousness…

These are just some musings in response your comments, and Ed’s, and to Michael’s listening. Thanks for taking the time to respond!


Reading the introduction it looks like a very interesting book, im a lot into reading posthuman academic stuff (object-oriented philosophy, new materialism, speculative realism etc) as it is closely connected to feminist epistemologies and methods of inquiry. Too bad i need to work on Thursday evening, theres a small possibility i can make it on time for the discussion but i dont count on that. So, heres a small contribution/comment from my side

from the andro-centric (notion of) ĥuman
to the femal-acentric (reality of) human

The term “femal-acentric” indicates that acentrality is a female quality (“the center is everywhere”, as it says in the introduction), while centrality is phallic by definition. At the same time it also indicates that the female is not symmetrical to the male. We are not going from andro-centric to female-centric, in other words we are not talking about the female as it is constructed and imposed by the andro-centric perspective. The female is radically different to the male in the deepest of senses, in a sense that defies and far exceeds symmetrical opposition. It is an all-inclusive feminicity that does not divide into two categories but unites in a unity of infinite pluralities, human and non-human


im also having issues with the term “posthuman”, basically for two reasons

  1. its not actually true. The notion of an extensive, non-seperative human self in connection with everything, the cosmic or the universal human, can be found in many places within the humanistic paradigm at large. It can be traced in early romanticism, german idealism and even marxist philosophy, in psychology (eg David Cooper) and phenomenology (eg Merleau-Ponty), and its a commonground in mysticism, spiritual traditions and the counterculture-psychedelic movement. Myself i have also delivered a particular version of this notion in the work i ve done with my previous project called “mankinddivine theory”
    What is actually new and important nowadays is the connection between the above notion and the female dimension of humanity. This connection is already present in the humanities as posthumanism is closely related to feminism, effectuated largely by women/feminist scholars (Rosa Braidotti, Karen Barad etc), in my work i highlight this connection and want to deepen it, taking it from the level of theory and epistemology to the more practical level of everyday life and the psychosexual formation and determination of humans.
  2. It is politically sketchy and ambiguous. i think that we should take seriously the historical lesson of the tragic fate of Nietzsche`s “ubermench” in the hands of the Nazis, and be very cautious about using any term that puts together the word “human” with any prefix that can potentially indicate a kind of race or group of people superior to the other, “common” humans, especially in an era that many social groups are still striving to achieve recognition as humans.

Thanks for your comments, @mankinddivine ~ they add a unique perspective to the discussion. I hope you can join us today, but if not, I’ll be sure to refer to the thoughts you’ve shared here, particularly:

—and your critiques, which I share, of the term “posthuman.”

I continue to find the term unfortunate because I otherwise experience so much of what Ferrando says as basically agreeable. Then it occurred to me, I could just make up a word to replace “posthuman” and the value of writing would not be diminished, since essentially Ferrando is just making up what she wants “posthumanism” to mean, anyway.

So what about: zibbelidibap?
The Art of Being Zibbeldibap

Now, make all the same points about self-enquiry, ontological poiesis, interbeing, etc.—as enactments of the (p)art of being zibbeldibap. It works just the same! Maybe even better… without the baggage of the term. I will try to make this argument in our conversation today.

For anyone planning to join us, here are relevant details:

Cosmos Café: The Art of Being Posthuman—Meditation 1


The Art of Being Posthuman by Francesca Ferrando
Meditation 1: Posthuman Self-Enquiry

#Existential Posthumanism#Inter-being#Existentialism?#21st Century#Dream#Change#Redemption#Posthuman Awareness


It was just @achronon and me today, but I think we had a pretty good talk. Would love to hear any responses.


Hi Marco, thank you for your message! i didn´t make it for the discussion but im gonna check the video, hopefully the next one!
Additionally about the term “posthuman”: How consistent is to talk about posthumans in the Anthroposcene?
(btw i don’t like “Anthroposcene” either , i prefer “Capitaloscene” because it is class-specific and it also indicates the impersonal-systemic nature of the powers at play).
Ι really like the term you propose, but im kind of conservative in this issue, i would stick to the term “human” but also change “mankind” to “womankind”


Hi Alexandros, I tried to incorporate and address few of your points in the meeting—towards the beginning, but then again around 1:08 in. I doubt I did a very good job, so if you could join us sometime, I’m sure it would help with our comprehension.

I also prefer the term Capitalocene, because I think it is more specific to the production of a technosphere, invading the biosphere, compared with Anthropocene, since not all human (“anthropic”) societies have brought about the planetary-level ecological disruptions we’re seeing

What do you think about the term “humankind”? Do you see human as a gendered term?


Merely FYI:

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