Steve starts by saying it is difficult to define what it is to be human - where does the dividing line between apes and humans begin and end, for instance. Suggests that the project of 'Humanity' is not good for all humans - so post 18th century we have ideas of raising the overall level of humanity.
Contemporary arguments against the project of humanity:
- Foucault, Death of Man (1966) - 'humanity', as something we might choose to do, is a symptom of us exotic apes suffering a kind of God Delusion
- post-modern critique, anti-humanists say that the beneficiaries of 'humanity' are hegmonic white, male, anglo-saxon...
- neo-liberal and neo-conservative - humanity costs too much and delivers too little - what benefit has it given in the long run?
- ecological critique - harming the planet
- animal rights critique - our privileging of ourselves as a species are from theology that Darwin overturned completely and that vivisection and other animal experiments show that we are doing nothing in the world except for ourselves
- post-humanist critique, we prefer animals, pets, second self in cyberspace
The course team ask the question: might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on? I think hell yes! My only worry about them is that to learn from a Mooc, you do need a computer, internet access and basic IT skills - and many in the world don't have this - yet... this is a humanist project that is well worth pursuing, get the Moocs out to the people!