Human responsiveness 
Thomas Schwarz Wentzer (Aarhus University, DK)
Kasper Lysemose (Aarhus University)
Rasmus Dyring (Aarhus University)
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Being Human
University Place 4.214
Thursday 8 August, 9:00-10:00 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

The panel addresses the idea that human beings find themselves haunted by some otherness that demands responses. It asks specifically how this idea may assist a culturally orientated anthropology in reconnecting its subject matter with its biological conditions without succumbing to reductionism.

Long Abstract

The panel aims at bringing philosophy and anthropology together in exploring the idea that human beings are responsive beings. A responsive being does not begin spontaneously from itself, but from somewhere else. It always finds itself challenged, provoked, questioned, animated, urged, motivated or otherwise haunted by some otherness that perpetually demands new responses. We encounter such otherness at all levels of our existence: inter-culturally, inter-personally, inter-corporeally etc. A responsive being is posed as a question to itself and not as a reaction to physical causation and environmental pressure. Ontogenetically such a being is not at home in its body from the outset. Even basic modes of perception and movement are acquired in a strenuous process of incorporation. More generally a responsive being does not only live its life, but must, in order to do so, lead it. The ensuing process of developing self-understandings and world-orientations is mediated by technological inventions, gestural programs, playful expressivity, pragmatic habits, social roles, legal regulations, moral imperatives, religious commandments and cultural learning. The idea of responsiveness challenges the nature/culture-distinction and the universal/particular-distinction. Human life-forms are not just cultural achievements on top of biological conditions. Responsiveness can be traced back into these very conditions and into the evolutionary past of the responsive being - and perhaps also extrapolated forth to trans-human prospects or pitfalls. Nor are human life-forms the re-enactment of the same universality. They share a responsiveness which does not amount to a common being, but to a participation in an ongoing evolution: the human becoming.

Accepted papers: