Book review discussion. ‘Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska The proactionary imperative: A foundation for transhumanism’, Sociology 50 (3): 611-2.

In terms of intellectual history, the end of the Second World War can be marked by the debate on humanism between Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. In Existentialism Is a Humanism, Sartre (2007) offered a defence of traditional humanist values – freedom and autonomy for all – on the traditional grounds of anthropocentrism – ‘man’ is the measure of all things – and constructivism – the world we inhabit is of human making. In Letter on Humanism Heidegger (1993) responded by making three fundamental counter-claims: through its egalitarianism and constructivism, humanism was itself to blame for the war and its atrocities; ‘man’ cannot be made a source of value so we ought to worship higher forms of ‘being’; and through their masterful command of language, a new elite of poets and thinkers were to restore human dignity by becoming selfappointed ‘shepherds of being’.


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