I tried to do my own research on it but I'm not very much cleared about it. Please explain it to me in simple language. this term is being used by Post-structuralism and postmodernists.

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    – Brian Z
    Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 19:03

2 Answers 2


To understand anti-humanism we should first understand 'modernism' and the philosophical rejection of it that is commonly (if inaptly) called post-modernism.

'Modernism' — in this philosophical sense — is a tendency to conflate 'The Modern' with 'The Good'. The term started in architecture, of all places, because there was a movement in the early-to-mid 20th century to create 'modern' urban landscapes: efficient grid-style street layouts; concrete, glass, and steel office blocks; zoning meant to keep commercial, industrial, and residential functions in separate areas. Cities across the globe have been made or remade in this pattern — Los Angeles, Atlanta, central London, Dubai City, Seoul, Nairobi, etc... - so that it's almost ubiquitous. It's an efficient and effective design. But it's also — according to critics — suffocating, characterless, soulless, and dehumanizing. There's no room in an efficient modern city for culture, quaintness, self-expression, individuality, idiosyncrasy, or other distinctive traits. One can go from nation to nation and see the same malls, the same gated communities, and the same towering slab-like buildings.

This image spread to philosophy more generally as a metaphor, with people worrying about how modern, Western, technology-driven culture was imposing itself as 'The Good' on both the world at large and the individuals within it, with a wild and unreflective abandon. And so philosophy began to critique 'The Modern' to show that it wasn't the same as 'The Good', and that in fact 'The Modern' carried with it unpleasant and unsavory cultural norms: racism, sexism, exploitation, brutal legalism, and the like. They started looking for something that went beyond the limitations of 'The Modern': something that recaptured the spirit and vitality of human life in the face of the bland, imposing, monolithic reductionism of modernity.

Part of this bland, imposing, monolithic reductionism was the re-conception and reification of humanity. This is humanism, in the sense used here: a set of assertions about the essential nature and rights of human beings; a cookie-cutter model in which 'The Human' is equated with 'The Good'. It's done with the best intentions, of course, but it's still (from this philosophical perspective), stifling, oppressive, ill-considered, and otherwise problematic. So anti-humanism (similar to romanticism in an earlier age) starts digging into and critiquing this model to expose all of its unpleasant and unsavory aspects, all in the hope of revitalizing the human spirit.

Ayn Rand's 'The Fountainhead' is an ironically interesting read, here. On one hand we see the main character (Howard Roark) working against exactly the kind of architectural modernism discussed above, trying to break through as an individual against the corrupt and stagnant opposition of normalcy. On the other hand, Roark is written to be the ideal of humanism, intrinsically superior to all other human types, and thus naturally indomitable. From a philosophical perspective Rand appears to attack modernism, but in reality she merely reaffirms it.


Definition of anti-humanist : someone who opposes or rejects the beliefs, principles, or assumptions of humanism. - Merriam-Webster

On opposition to humanism.

Heidegger, Letter on "Humanism", Pathmarks, page 265

opposition to "humanism" in no way implies a defense of the inhuman but rather opens other vistas.

Letter on "Humanism", Pathmarks, pages 251-252

this opposition does not mean that such thinking aligns itself against the humane and advocates the inhuman, that it promotes the inhumane and deprecates the dignity of the human being. Humanism is opposed because it does not set the humanitas of the human being high enough. Of course the essential worth of the human being does not consist in his being the substance of beings, as the “Subject” among them, so that as the tyrant of being he may deign to release the beingness of beings into an all too loudly glorified “objectivity.”

The human being is rather “thrown” by being itself into the truth of being, so that ek-sisting ['ecstatically' existing vs. extantness] in this fashion he might guard the truth of being, in order that beings might appear in the light of being [162] as the beings they are. Human beings do not decide whether and how beings appear, whether and how God and the gods or history and nature come forward into the clearing of being, come to presence and depart. The advent of beings lies in the destiny [Geschick] of being. But for humans it is ever a question of finding what is fitting in their essence that corresponds to such destiny; for in accord with this destiny the human being as ek-sisting has to guard the truth of being. The human being is the shepherd of being. It is in this direction alone that Being and Time is thinking when ecstatic existence is experienced as “care” (cf. section 44c, pp. 226ff.).

Pathmarks, page 260 - archive.org

the essence of the human being consists in his being more than merely human, if this is represented as “being a rational creature.”

"More human than human." - Tyrell Corp.

Alles, was Sie brauchen, ist Sorge.

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