Rosi Braidotti argues that her “monistic philosophy of becomings” (2013: 35) rests on the idea that matter is intelligent and self-organising. [Does she mean that intelligence is an emergent property of particular forms of material arrangements or organisation; or does she intend that intelligence is a property of matter?] Human embodiment is part of that more general intelligent self-organisation. In this approach, subjectivity is a process of auto-poiesis or self-styling. It therefore involves continuous, and complex, negotiations with dominant norms and values and, by implication, multiple forms of accountability.
In Braidotti’s account, post-humanism is an historical moment that marks the end of the period when Humanism and anti-humanism were seen as opposites. She calls her variant of posthuman thought ‘critical post humanism’. This strand of thinking explores the potential of post-structuralist thought, the anti-universalism of feminism and the anti-colonial phenomenology of Franz Fanon and Aime Cesaire.
The value of post-colonial theory for Braidotti is that it recognises that,
“ideals of reason, secular tolerance, equality under the Law and democratic rule, need not be, and indeed historically have not been, mutually exclusive with Wuropean practices of violent domination, exclusion and systematic and instrumental use of terror.” (2013:46)
While this is to recognise that reason and barbarism are not mutually exclusive, and nor are Enlightenment and horror, Braidotti insists that this is not to sink into cultural relativism or moral nihilism.
Braidotti positions her particular version of post-humanism as within an ecological framework. Thus, she argues, her critical post-human subject operated within an eco-philosophy of multiple belongings. This subject is constituted as relational and as as multiple. This is a form of subjectivity that works across differences while also being internally differentiated. However, this form of subjectivity remains grounded and accountable.
As Braidotti explains,
“Posthuman subjectivity expresses an embodied and embedded and hence partial form of accountability, based on a strong sense of collectivity, relationally and hence community building.” (2013: 49)
The position she outlines is one that favours complexity and promotes radical post-human subjectivity, relaying upon an ethics of becoming. Braidotti reaffirms that while this position rejects individualism, it also distances itself from relativism and nihilistic defeatism. She proposes a “post human ethics for a non-unitary subject”. (2013: 49)
The post human subjectivity she advocates is materialist and vitalist, embodied and embedded, and is firmly located (spatio-temporally), in line with a feminist politics of location.
Braidotti, R. (2013). The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity.