Posthumanism and Rhetorical Theory
In as brief a definition as possible, humanism is centered on the idea that human needs, values, concerns, and ideals are of the highest importance, or that the human being is the epitome of being. As a development of this idea, posthumanism is based on the notion that humankind can transcend the limitations of the physical human form. In a traditional sense, humans have been considered to be solidly and indisputably classified as high-functioning animals, but animals nonetheless. In this way, the same biological and physical constraints that limit the entire animal kingdom tether humankind to that base level. Posthumanism ideals suggest it is both possible and for the best for humans to attempt to surpass these limitations, often through the use of technology to augment biology (in a way, using the physiological capacity of the human brain to accelerate the functions of the entire human form).
Progressions in Usability and Functionality
While the primary focus of posthumanist progression lies in the realm of higher technology, there are developments both in effect and yet to come that have much to do with technical writing and rhetoric. For many, many centuries, writing has been constrained to paper with static text. In more recent decades, the advent of computers and the Internet have caused documents to evolve and adapt. Institution of newer technologies allows for new methods of interactivity, which allow different senses to be utilized by human beings who interact with such documents. Through the use of technology, document designers and writers can allow their readers to interact at a more functional level which is more natural and fully engaging than mere reading.
Posthumanist rhetoric requires a full understanding of the operation of the human being as an entity, both collectively as an audience and singularly as individual readers. Writing and rhetoric are able to be at their most posthuman when they utilize technology to transcend the physicality of humans as well as the temporality of their existence. In this way, authors begin accommodating more means of delivery and spreading the availability and accessibility of documents in addition to making documents available at much more timely intervals—even as far as on-demand. Posthuman authors who embrace technological advances gain new dimensions of interactivity both within their text as well as in response to their text. A posthuman rhetoric mindset enables the document to blossom further as a medium as it works in harmony with the qualities of its audience and their humanity.