Humanism for 21st Century - AFSV00293
Poslední úprava: Mgr. Jakub Jirsa, Ph.D. (14.09.2017)
Humanism for 21st Century
Department of Philosophy Charles University
October 2nd Seminar 1 Humanism and Anti-Humanism
Scene-setting. Defining humanism. The mistake of defining it solely in terms of what it is against –religion. The questionable assumption that secularism is an irreversible, emancipating trend. Non-religious modes of anti-humanism: Foucault et al; and naturalism. The distinctive contribution of philosophy to humanist thought – and the theme of the present series of seminars: to help us to see the distinctive nature of human being.
October 9th Seminar 2 Scientism and Anti-Humanism
The mistaken assumption that the only alternative to a supernatural account of humanity is a naturalistic one; that if we are not angels, we are apes. Trends in contemporary naturalistic anti-humanism and the claim that humanities will be superseded by biological sciences - Neuromania (‘You are your brain’); and Darwinitis (evolutionary theory accounts not only for the organism H. sapiens but also for the human person) - are subjected to critical examination.
16th October Seminar 3: The Embodied Subject
That we are organisms cannot be denied: we are generated by processes common to other living creatures and die of similar causes. Between our biological beginning and our biological end, however, we live lives that are distant from the organic processes that sustain them. The seminar will explore our nature as embodied subjects, inseparable from and yet not identical with our bodies, and the tension between the ‘am’ of the person and the ‘is’ of the organism.
30th October Seminar 4: Being In and Out of Time
Material objects at a time t1 are identical with their state at time t1. Human beings, who have explicit temporal depth, are not identical with the time they are in. The present moment is impregnated by an individual and shared past, and reaches towards an individual and shared future. This opens two relationships to time: an ‘at’ relationship connecting the present with indefinitely expandable temporal schemes (clock, calendar, historical, and ‘deep’ time); and a ‘that’ relationship to facts that are lifted out of time. These relationships are central to cognitive – social and scientific - advances that have placed increasing distances between ourselves and the natural, indeed the material, world.
6th November Seminar 5: Selfhood and Personhood<br>
Humans are persons as well as organisms. Suspicion of the idea of the soul has encouraged reductionist accounts of the person or the self, illustrated in English speaking philosophy by a tradition extending from David Hume to Derek Parfit. Such reductionist accounts by-pass the unity-in-multiplicity of the self at any given time (and the expanded present tense) and the unity-in-multiplicity of the self over time. The seminar will argue for a more substantive conception of the self necessary to sustain the first-person perspective.
13th November Seminar 6: The Human Agent<br>
In the second seminar, we discussed accounts of human beings according to which they are organisms identified with their evolved brains. This is incompatible with the idea of human agents as independent points of departure in the world, genuinely capable of initiating actions, deflecting the course of events in ways for which they appropriately take responsibility. The seminar will defend the reality of agency rooting it in the temporal depth of the agent.
27th November Seminar 7: Transhumanist Dreams<br>
Notwithstanding the distance between our lived lives and the natural world, we ultimately share the fate of all organisms. The seminar will critically examine the dream of postponing death initially through extension of biological life span and, ultimately, escaping death altogether. The latter builds on the mistaken, but philosophically interesting, notion that we are only contingently organisms and that our identity is essentially information which can be replicated and preserved indefinitely.
4th December Seminar 8: Humanism: A Philosophical Agenda for the Future<br>
The final seminar will be devoted to sketching some unfinished business of humanist thought. It will discuss the existential challenge of living, individually and together, without the consolation and threat of religious belief, in full knowledge of the finitude, vulnerability, and contingency of our lives. After supernaturalism and naturalism, what next? We are half-awaken from our organic condition; what form might full wakefulness take? How shall we begin to imagine what we are?