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The Human Condition According to Nietzsche and Harroway

By Edited Mar 17, 2015 0 0

Is the Human Condition over, modifying or still as it always was?

This philosophical question will be explored according to the views of Frederick Nietzsche and Donna Harroway.  Nietzsche and Harroway both present different perspectives on what it is to be human, For Nietzsche, it is clear that the human condition can be seen as modifying, but for Harroway, the post-human condition is certainly here in a technological cyborg-like reality. How do these accounts compare and contrast? I will explore this issue with the aim to reach a conclusion as to whether or not we are living in a post human age.

The Human Condition According to Frederick Nietzsche

Nietzsche, after leading a lonely and painful life, created a powerful philosophy through his book Ecce Homo. Several themes in this autobiography explored what it means to be human. Nietzsche argued that the driving force in every human being was the will to power.  Power was the ultimate for each person. He distinguished between master morality and slave morality, with master morality being what will get you far in life. 

Libensphilosophy and the Ubermensch

Nietzsche's idea of life was one of eternal recurrence - re-living the same life over and over again. This was his Liebensphilosophy (life philosophy). He believed that people should live the way that they want to live, overcoming everything that is decadent. Don't lead the life you 'ought' to lead, and don't live in regret. 

A person who strives to overcome the eternal recurrence is the Ubermensch. This is Nietzsche's idea of a super-human - the ultimate human being. The Ubermensch is the future through which you will have to conquer yourself and Christianity.

Nietzsche's view on Christianity

Nietzsche's view on Christianity is strongly negative. His assertion that 'God is dead' has a profound influence on his link with the post human age. By using the phrase 'God is dead', he did not mean that God used to be alive and had been killed! For Nietzsche, God is dead in the spiritual sense. Nietzsche's philosophy marks the end of Christianity, a start to a new way of life or an end of an era.

Harroway and the Post-Human Condition

Harroway sees the post-human condition to be here now. In 'Simiens, Cyborgs and Women', she uses strong sentences to try to stir the reader. Her argument is that we are already cyborgs and certainly not what humans should be. Technology, to Harroway, is not just about tools, but our environment, and it governs the way that we live. She sees that we have destroyed the eco-system to such an extent, that there are no structural differences between humans, plants and animals. Computers are already more intelligent than us. 

Is artificial intelligence better than human intelligence? According to Harroway, we are already living in a post-gender world. Will there soon be a computer code as opposed to a genetic code for what it is to be human? Perhaps the cyborg reality is already here!

Comparing the views of Nietzsche and Harroway

Nietzsche shares similar views to Harroway to some extent. The death of God is the death of man - we are human beings because we have been created Imago dei (in the image of God). therefore, it is impossible post-Nietzsche to get a strong concept of identity - all values are valueless. Nietzsche would say that we all have our own view of reality, because we all constitute it in our own way. So, the post-human is the super-human. The Ubermensch is the overcomer of the death of God, and the new age for being human is here.

It appears, therefore, that for Nietzsche, the human condition is over. God is dead, and so is man. Nietzsche bought us to the end of an understanding - there is no way that one can be human, as a Christian, according to Nietzsche. 

For Harroway, the post-human condition is already here, and we are living in a Cyborg reality. We have made the more from reproduction to replication, from the Second World War to Star Wars, and from the mind to Artificial intelligence.

Conclusions

For me, the human condition is not over, but modifying. Technology and the way we live have changed us, but not to the extent that it has stopped us from being human altogether. Yet, it depends on how we define what it is to be human. To be a human could merely be a biological formula for the Homo Sapien. Therefore, we should be speaking about personhood, rather than what it is to be human. 

What do you think? What does it mean to be human? Does being human link to Christianity, and therefore fall apart under the philosophy of Nietzsche? Is the Cyborg age dawning, and will we one day all become artificial intelligence?  

Philosophers, please leave your comments on my article, I would love to hear what you think!

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