The Revolt Against Humanity Imagining a Future Without Us
Should we welcome the end of humanity?
In this blistering book about the history of an idea, one of our leading critics draws on his dazzling range and calls our attention to a seemingly inconceivable topic that is being seriously discussed: that the end of humanity’s reign on earth is imminent, and that we should welcome it. Adam Kirsch journeys through literature, philosophy, science, and popular culture, to identify two strands of thinking: Anthropocene antihumanism says that our climate destruction has doomed humanity and we should welcome our extinction, while Transhumanism believes that genetic engineering and artificial intelligence will lead to new forms of life superior to humans.
Kirsch’s introduction of thinkers and writers from Roger Hallam to Jane Bennett, David Benatar to Nick Bostrom, Patricia MacCormack to Ray Kurzweil, Ian McEwan to Richard Powers, will make you see the current moment in a new light. The revolt against humanity has already spread beyond the fringes of the intellectual world, and it can transform politics and society in profound ways—if it hasn’t already.
“With admirable concision and clarity, this short book achieves its stated aims not only to introduce some very challenging and disturbing ideas, but also to understand their historical background and appeal, and to reflect on their ‘possible implications for the future.’” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“In his brief but fascinating The Revolt Against Humanity, our own Adam Kirsch explains why predictions of humanity’s passing have been more than a passing fad in the last half-century, linking them to two broader ideologies that now dominate the way we think about the future: transhumanism and Anthropocene antihumanism.” —New Criterion
“[A]n intense study of the various schools of thought on ‘the end of humanity’s reign on Earth.’ ... [T]he expert perspectives, paired with anecdotes from sci-fi films and literature, make for a fascinating look at the ‘profound civilizational changes’ that may come. The result is a nice lay of the post-human land.” —Publishers Weekly
“Kirsch, a widely respected poet, critic, shows readers the bleeding edge of philosophic and literary speculation about what comes next for mankind. The picture he paints is not pretty.” —WORLD magazine
“Six erudite, clear, and concise chapters explore the issues raised by the serious prospect of the end of human life, at least as we know it.” —Philosophy Now
“The Revolt Against Humanity is a profound, daring, and intellectually thrilling examination of the role of human beings on Earth: would the world be better off without us? Beautifully written, the book will spark your thoughts, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you asking yourself wonderfully unanswerable questions.” —Ellen Ullman, author of Close to the Machine and Life in Code
“We’re told that ideas can have momentous consequences. In that case, we owe it to ourselves to pay close attention to the chilling ideas Adam Kirsch highlights in this profound and disturbing book. On one side, some environmental activists welcome the idea that humanity may be on the brink of extinction; on the other, a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs dreams of using their fortunes and technical knowhow to empower us to transcend our humanity altogether. Kirsch proves an illuminating guide to both trends. He’s also an uncommonly insightful critic, drawing on the wisdom of poets, novelists, and philosophers to make sense of our unsettling attraction to the idea of a world without us.” —Damon Linker, author of The Theocons and The Religious Test
Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic. He is the author of three collections of poems and several books of criticism and biography, including The Global Novel, published by Columbia Global Reports in 2017. He lives in New York City, where he is an editor at the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Review section.