Imagination and anthropocentrism

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An 11th-century manuscript containing Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, which ends with a vision of the Earth from space, British Library, Harley MS 2652

The rejection of the present in favour of an alternative condition, state or situation had always been a function of two things : imagination and anthropomorphism. The former is socially praised today (it hasn’t always been), while the latter has been under attack by the elites as part of a larger critique against the violence done to nature by aggressive anthropocentric perspectives.

Utopias and fantastic worlds have always thrived on imaginative projections of human psychology (fears, desires, concerns, etc) against a backdrop inspired by things seized other than with the imaginative faculties. Everything departs and returns to the human intellect, however resolute the desire to disconnect the light projection from the projector’s lamp.

Many of the accomplishments of the modern imagination were imagined by the ancients as well. Both Cicero and Dante imagined themselves in orbit around the earth. While theirs was a wild dream (for Cicero even more so than Dante, as the account of the Dream of Scipio makes evident), the imagination of 20th century pioneers made that dream come true.

The imagination may be wild, but even the wildest plant is rooted in the ground. And that ground for us humans is our own condition, history, contingency. It is fascinating to see that even when this condition is rejected in the name of transhumanism or some other post-human wild dreams, the blueprints of those submissions are easentially hominoid. Fuelled by imagination, the attempt to transcend humanity crashes against the rocks of unavoidable anthropomorphism. It is usually understood, by many varieties of Cartesian posthumanisms, that our bodies define the humanity to be transcended. Even when the body is done away with, what is left is the anthropomorphic mind. And the same goes for other areas of imaginative activity.

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