RELATED TERMS: Humanism; Post-Humanism; Posthuman

Michel Foucault argues that the term humanism should not be confused with that of Enlightenment. The importance of grasping the notions of humanism and Enlightenment for narrative environment design is that it bears directly upon how the domain of humanity and the human is understood in the design process and in the created narrative environments, i.e. how is human actantiality and potentiality understood in the ways the narrative environment works.

The design of narrative environments takes up a position that is critical of the humanism, the view of what it means to be human, that emerged during the societal changes emerging under the name of Enlightenment.

Foucault argues that the Enlightenment is a set of events and complex historical processes that is located at a certain point in the development of European societies which includes elements of social transformation, types of political institution, forms of knowledge, projects of rationalisation of knowledge and practices and technological mutations. All of this is very difficult to sum up in a word, even if many of these phenomena remain important today.

In contrast, Foucault characterises humanism as a set of themes that have reappeared on several occasions, over time, in European societies.


Foucault, M. (1984). What is Enlightenment? In: The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 32–50.