This brings us to the question of the will to power, also dealt with by Ferrando in this chapter. Ferrando invokes Karen Barad in this regard who speaks of a fundamental agential ontology that is omnipresent from the quantum level to the most complex organisms and organizations. In Nietzsche’s case, the will to power is also related to the Ubermensch or Overhuman, the power over oneself leading to a posthuman destining. In the chapter on Antihumanism and the Ubermensch, Ferrando introduces this lineage of the posthuman, but eventually rejects Nietzsche’s Ubermensch on the ground that he premises it on a derogatory supercession of the “brute” or animal. Rather, following Rosi Braidotti’s adaptation of Deleuze and Guattari, Ferrando sees the will to power and posthuman perspectivism in terms of a refusal of essentialism and an inter-species transversal bonding, which may be called nomadic. Adapting the language of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, we may call this individuation as relational cosmogenesis.
All these related ideas bring up the Indian field of spiritual praxis known as yoga. The term yoga has today entered the English lexicon, but like the term avatar and many others, this entry is a hegemonic appropriation and not an engagement. In India itself, yoga has plural meanings spread over a field that may best be characterized as technologies of becoming. This can be assimilated to Nietzsche’s will to power as self-exceeding and to an embodied and existential posthuman perspectivism. Ferrando’s discussion in this chapter could have been enhanced by this consideration.
Karl Jaspers, in his astute short introduction to the Buddha in his Great Philosophers series, Volume 1, draws attention to the difference between the place of thought in western philosophy and in yoga. Referring to the Buddha, but in a manner common to the field of yoga, he says:
Logical ideas create space by freeing us from our bonds with the finite. But it is only by meditation that truths are reinforced and established, that full certainty is attained. It cannot be said that one is primary, the other a mere consequence. One is, rather, the confirmation and guarantee of the other. Each in its own way prepares us for the truth…. In speculation, meditation and ethos alike, it is the human will that sets the goal and attains it… That is why Buddha is forever calling for an effort of the will. All a man’s powers must be engaged.
He concludes his introduction by drawing a central lesson from the Buddha’s life. He says, “It points to the questionable essence of man. A man is not what he just happens to be; he is open. For him there is no one correct solution.”
It is clear from these quotes that, as with Nietzsche, Bergson or Deleuze, Jaspers sees the place of thought not as a faculty for establishing a static and absolute Truth but as a servant of the will which is central to life seen as a problem of becoming. It is also important to note from these remarkable passages how close Jasper’s depiction of the Buddha is to what Ferrando would, I feel, equate to posthuman perspectivism.
Returning to technologies of the self, seen as a response to the hegemony of normative humanism, it may be of interest to note that what is called yoga in the West today, a regime of physical posture and breathing at the service of the fitness industry and stress-free capitalism, took its rebirth in modern times as a technology of anticolonial biopolitical resistance in India. Further, when Vivekananda introduced “yoga” in his lectures at the Parliament of World Religions at the turn of the 19th/20th c., it is exactly as an alternative and plural telos of human becoming to the static image of the human, and of human becoming as the acquisition of absolute knowledge and cosmic control which characterizes modernity. One can read this too as a form of anticolonial resistance, of an epistemological revolution in alignment with Nietzsche’s and Jasper’s existentialism and contemporary philosophical posthumanism.
This revisionary view, both of epistemology and of yoga, made one with contemporary posthumanism, can offer a much needed praxeological toolbox for a participatory science of relational cosmogenesis in which individuals approach the problems of global co-existence as plural collective problems of becoming. Perhaps yoga, seen in this light, can be the sequel to Ferrando’s philosophical posthumanism, opening the technologies of the self towards Nietzsche’s overhuman, seen not as a rejection of the animal but a deep identity through relationality with all the beings of earth and world.
The text was first Published here.