Ours is one of the countless forms of life found in nature, and as such in many ways unique. The concept of the so-called anthropological difference refers to the characteristics that distinguish humans from non-human living beings in fundamental ways, which cannot be captured in natural-scientific terms alone but call for the categories at home in the humanities and the social sciences. Surveying theoretical texts from the Enlightenment to the present, in sessions 1-5 we identify a set of interrelated capacities that have been thought to account for the anthropological difference: reason, freedom, language, symbolic culture, morality, symbolically elaborated awareness of mortality, and technology. In sessions 6-8, we bring these theories to bear on contemporary quandaries about the novel challenges created by scientific modernity, the threat of human extinction, and human enhancement.
Module Leader:Márton Dornbach