Posthumanist ontology is getting past concern for what (present-at-hand) to Heart-of-Care for our dwelling in worldhood where we share destiny with all species.

Posthumanist Ontology

Essay by David M. Boje, May 28, 2014

The environment, all its ecosystems, is a structure of relationships called 'life.' A posthumanist ontology is the care of "relationship-of-Being" towards our Being-within-the-world of all its species (Heidegger, 1962 #57, p. 84). The posthumanist ethic of 'care' is a disclosed understanding of what it means to dwell, Being-within-the-world, in our "ontological foothold" (IBID #59: 85). Concern for the environment, ontically is important, yet also deficient, ontologically. Ontically, we can count the number of Things of different kinds, in a given 'world,' but that is not getting to the 'worldhood.' We have concern for producing, consuming, manipulating, acquiring, changing, arranging, looking for, making use of, giving away, taking away, accomplishing a multiplicity of somethings, and so on, yet this is not the posthumanist 'ethic of care.' It is not ontologically, what I call -of-Care (Boje, 2012).


What is humanism? What is posthumanism? What is transhumanism?

Table 1: Some Aspects of What is is Humanism, Posthumanism, and Transhumanism

1.Storytelling Western Narratives of human epistemologies; Indigenous stories of Being-in-worldhood Western narratives deconstructing human-centric narratives; ontic narratives counting and categorizing Things of each ecosystem; Indigenous 'living' stories of the 'aliveness' of the worldhood, its multi-species commnities, where rocks, trees, water, air, stars live Accounts of the virtual world along-side the human and Natural world; Narratives of cyborg design, species modification, environmental reterritorializing using biotechnology, nanotechnology, microrobotics, DNA technologies, and so on until no Natural worldhood is sustainable.
2. Ontically Humans are supreme rulers over all non-human things; 'Concern' is with counting & categorizing of what is valued by humans, ownable, and so on. World is treated as present-at-hand; Counting & categorizing the parts of the ecosystems, while treating humans as one among many species; a critical analysis of the consequences of human-centric standpoint on planet's sustainability Multiple worlds are present-at-hand, and the virtual one is colonizing the other ones. Counting and cagegorizing ways humans have become cyborg, entered in union with virtual worlds, and are modifying the Natural world by design, changing evolution of species
3. Ontologically Humans take up an ethic of care in relationship to being stewards of world's resources, in order for generations of humans to survive Humans realize an ethic of care of being stewards fo many species, and to do no harm while Being-in-the-world The ontology shifts, and relationship-of-Bieng towards the world is only occaisional; Care takes on a different ontological structural concept that human vs. non-human, rather the 'ontic cares of life' in the virtual and in techno-human redesign, genetic food modifications, and so for become more valued than care of ecosystem. The freedom form care becomes an end in itself


In the above table, "care" takes on an "ontological structural concept" differently in the human, posthuman, and transhuman condition (Heidegger, 1962: #57, p. 83). Ontic concern for counting and valuing by categroizing also takes on different aspects in humanism, posthumanism, and transhumanism. The ontic 'cares of life' are about "tribulation" (anguish, agony, suffering, woe, disstress, greif, and so on) as well as "melancholy" (more woe, distress, desolation, unhappiness, misery, gloom, and so on) [IBID.]. The ontic- and ontologic-storytelling change sin the three conditions.

I have been doing ontological storytelilng studies of veterans, children in dangerous schools, and universities going green with sustainability branding (Boje, 2014b). Being-in the worldhood of the veteran, the worldhood of dangeous public schools, and the worldhood of university (un) sustainability. Veterans are within a worldhood, alongside, and pentrated by late modern capitalism, its social, economic, and political structures. Dangeous schools are growining in number, despite programs like 'No Child Left Behind' danger grows, and children in the poorest neighborhoods, dwell 'inhood.' The first two cases (veterans & schools) are affected by the third case, the worldhood of the ecosystems.

The ecosystem, for example, of homeless-veterans, is affected, in the U.S.A. by a socioeconomic and political culture where, property defines status. With the decline and extinction of the middle class, the average American household is two paychecks away form homelessness. We can calculate the plight of the homeless-veterans, but that is not the same as encountering their worldhood, ontologically. Homeless veterans are a kind of Being-in-the-world which the constructivist standpoint (#61, p. 88) cannot uncover. The ontological structure is an opposition of homeless by the propertied (including renters). Ordinances are set up to keep the homeless-veterans (& all homeless) moving on to some other city or town. Ordinance are being implemented in some cities in the U.S.A. making it illegal for the propertied to feed the homeless in parks, and for homeless to linger, to set up a shelter, such as a tent. Las Cruces, where I live is an exception to those national trends. by training alongside within-the-homeless-world, dwelling alongside the nomadic homeless-veteran, it is the encounters of Being-alongside, that gives one an inside understanding, and the possiblity of a new way of Being.

The ontic tribulation and melancholy of children going to danerous schools is an ontic-condition. We can count and categorize drop-out rates, children unprepared for college entrance exam criteria, and the rates of spending of the school district on its dangerous and safe schools (Boje, 2014b). One only has to tarry-for-awhile in Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, to see the effect of decline of the ecology, the poverty, the way of life. We can put in all the virtual technologies you want, or that the school can afford, and this does not change the human, posthuman, or transhuman condition of danerous schools. The airport-style security metal-detector cages do not change the underlying ontological structures of Strawberry Mansion.

In all three cases, those people and organizaitons encouter the world environmentally, as entities Being-in those worldhoods, in explicit encounters with homeless-veterans (& all veterans), chldren in dangerous schools (& all public schools), and in my university going green (& all U.S. universities re-branding as sustainable). In each case, the environmental is ontically counted and caetegorized, yet still we are blind to the non-trivial, because the ontologic driving the numbers and values is the underlying problematic that is covered up, covered over, and undisclosed. The ontological structure of 'life' of the environment can be conceived ontological in the privative, worldhood manner. For humanism, the humans privatize, in posthumanims every species is a stakeholder, and in transhumanism what is human, animal, vegetable, starts to be redesigned, creating inter-species hybrids using biotechnology, and so many other technologies. The ontologic-analytic inquire helps to disclose the ontic knowing of the world, but it is the ontologic that gets at the "soul's" reflexivity for its worldhood participation (#59, p. 85). It is in discerning the privative modes of Being-in-the-world that ontologic analysis makes worldhood accessible. It is accessibple in the encounters, in tarrying-for-awhile to have a soul relationship to Being-in-the-world, to make the invisible visible, the undisclosed disclosed, and so on.

The epistemological categories leave worldhood meaning of the environment in the dark, undisclosed. The ontic counting and categorizing is empirc, but not ontologic inquiry. The existential mode of Being-in is a step towards an ethics of answerability for one's own complicit in the ecosystems state of Being. Next is a summary of the antalytic-inquiry of Ontological Storytelling steps:

Together the four steps are an outline of an ontologic storytelling on ontic and ontologic interactivity. Where I dwell in Las Cruces New Mexico, the Community of Hope exists to keep veterans from being passed over, so they get VA appointments, treatment at hospitals, find food, clothing, education, and even housing (Boje, 2014b). The PHiladelphia-based KMC-Economic Empowerment Corporation, is another non-profit organization, where I volunteer (serve on their board, help write grants, develop some storytelling restorying processes, and so forth). KMC-EEC gets the rosources moving, develops programs to fill the gap, so children can succeed despite the structural ontology that would pass them over, pass them by, pass them down and under.

"Nature" ontically, is made known by counting human-Things and Things humans are concerned about (houses, cars, consumer-stuff, college degrees, etc.).

There are cross-boundary hybrids, such as ways man indigenous tribes are living in both humanist and posthumanist appreciations of humans being one among many species of the ecology. The cyborg is part of the psothuman condition, and is mostly celebrated in transhumanism.

We dwell alongside many other species and are "being absorbed in the world" primordial in "side-by-side-ness location of encounterable Things which are our concern, however, more important is care for dwelling in worldness (Heidegger, 1962 #54: 80). It is a difference of concern fo spatial location among Thing, and the Care of worldness "Being-in-space" (#56: 82). Care for the 'hood' and for Being "inhood" (#53: 79) means to see the posthumanist, the ontological "worldhood" (#53: 78).

In my view, it is not same as cyborg-human, nor is it human-centric ontology. Sherrly Vint, for example, looks at how our science fiction narratives are human-centric, and counter a posthuman standpoint. In Francesca Ferrando, humans are cyborg, with human-centric as one of many, in a kind of pluralism. On the other hand, posthuman is an understanding of of human species embedded in ecosystems, within-worldhood of many other species. Everything is inter-connected in the quantum age (Boje, 2014). As Ferrando says the future is here now, and many futures are here, in choices we make.

Posthumanism is what I call Being-within-the-world in a Heart-of-Care for the whole world, in-relationshisp to all its ecosystems within-space, not just alongside with ontic-concern for location. To Dwell means Being-within-the-world in a Heart-of-Care, primordially. Our concern for consumerism, war, production, accomplishment, and so on make the world a Thinghood, whereas Heart-of-Care makes Being-in-space, a within- worldhood, or 'inhood.'

Much of the organizational environmental theory and research lacks ontological foundations. Caertainly von Bertalanffy's open systems theory biology is absent what I call 'systemicity' (Boje, 2008a). Systemicy is a posthumanist ontology of life. Systemicity is answerable ethically for interconnections of inhood dwelling toether in the interconnections of all life. It is an ontological foundation always "there already" Being-within-the-world and all its possibilities(#50: 75). Posthumanist ethics goes beyond the ontically (post-positivistic) "natural concetion of the world" (#52: 76) to critique of the ordering principle of humanism itself, the answerable impact of humanism on the world.

Depersonalization through reification and objectification denies the ontological meaning of Being-within-the-world. Humans perform acts in the unity of body, soul, an spirit (#48: 73-4), often without concern or care for Being-within-whole-world. Concern shows understanding that humans are Being-present-at-hand with a multiplicity of other specieis in the ecosystems. However, those present-at-hand concerns for other speicies, denies the interconnectedness of Experience, which is the point of departure of the ontological method of posthumanist inquiry.

Human exceptionalism, the idea humans have supremacy-in-the-world is opposed by the posthumanist ontology. Transhuman theory goes beyond posthuman, we are within-community of species, to the cyborg idea (Haraway's cyborg manifesto) - where hunan is no longer jsut organic, it is part machine (with glasses, heart pacemakers, artificial limbs, manipulation of the body DNA sequences, techno-hybrid where our cell phone and cybernetic virtual world networks are about to be implanted in our body, and so forth (See Beyond Humanism: Becoming Cyborgs through Posthumanism by Gavin Rae - Part YouTube). The virtual world is interacting, along side the natural Being-in-the-world

In sum, a posthumanist ethics is abouut Being-within space, time, and the materialisms of everyday life with more than concern, it is rather the answerability for Heart-of-Care. We dwell within the same hood. Posthumanist ethics is countered by transhumanist ethics where be are hybrid with cyber-technologies or transhumanist-posthumanists (Rae).


Boje, David M. (Boje, 2014b). Six Dumb Cultural Habits of Storytelling about War, Veterans, Schooling, and Sustainability. Dumb Cultural Habits of Storytelling about War-sv2.pdf

Badmington, Neil. (2003). "Theorizing posthumanism." Cultural Critique 53.1 (2003): 10-27.

Haraway, Donna. "The promises of monsters: a regenerative politics for inappropriate/d others." Cultural studies (1992): 295-337.

Pepperell, Robert. The post-human condition. Intellect books, 1995.

Gane, Nicholas. (2006). "Posthuman." Theory, Culture & Society 23.2-3 (2006): 431-434.