The process of distancing man from nature was inaugurated a very long time ago, perhaps when he invented fire, or even before that, when he invented the first tools. The speed at which humans have extracted themselves from nature has been exponential: very slowly for millennia; more rapidly from the invention of historical memory by the great Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations… which thus gave themselves the means to accumulate experience; increasingly rapidly since the great discoveries of the 15th century, which began to cross cultures and civilisations and question certainties; the second last acceleration occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries, when people stopped being satisfied with what nature produced on the surface and started to attack what was underneath: minerals, coal, oil… This stage is important because it marks the changeover from the era of progress conceived as the optimisation of nature’s gifts: from the 19th century onwards, we began to emancipate ourselves from nature by exploiting its minerals, previously considered sterile, even to the detriment of its fertile part (animal and vegetable). It is not by chance that Nietzsche’s theory of the superhuman dates from the 19th century, for it was at this time that humans began to see themselves as Gods modelling the world in their own image.
But at that point we still remained dependent on raw materials from nature. It is with virtual reality, data, the Internet,… that humans lost their grip on nature, ceasing to want to dominate it, in order to, instead, recreate a new one.
It is through this mega-trend of ‘artificialisation’ that the themes of this special issue should be regarded (sex, family, reproduction) even if such trend should be crossed with others, such as sterilisation, commodification… and above all with a major countertrend: resistance to change.
This “sex-family-reproduction” triptych has brought our team to the heart of human society. And if we thought for a moment that this subject was as light as the month of July in which it is published, we soon realised that it was taking us down a path of quasi-philosophical thinking, of which these few pages of this special summer issue are only a prelude.
For thousands of years, humans aspiring to the divine have stumbled over the instinct that binds them to their quintessential animality. It’s not for lack of trying though! Reproduction has undergone a thousand attempts at “civilisation”: divinised in polytheistic religions, stabilised within the framework of the “family”, sacralised by religious vows, civilised by courtly love, annihilated by celibacy, etc. At a time when the world is tipping over into this decisive stage of artificialisation, it is appropriate to ask ourselves what will happen to the reproductive function, its prerequisite, sexuality, and its traditional framework, the family.
If humanity now has all the tools it needs to implement the Nietzschean dream of the superhuman, how exactly will it achieve twisting the animal function of reproduction? And how will it preserve its humanity in the midst of a storm of totalitarian trans-humanism? Strangely enough, our exploration of the future has brought us back to Love, the great absentee of the equation…
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