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Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom (Literature and Philosophy) epub ebook

by Chad Wellmon

Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom (Literature and Philosophy) epub ebook

Author: Chad Wellmon
Category: History & Criticism
Language: English
Publisher: Penn State University Press; 1 edition (December 21, 2010)
Pages: 336 pages
ISBN: 0271037342
ISBN13: 978-0271037349
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 767
Other formats: lrf doc lit mbr


The analysis then turns to the extensive literature that unpacks dominant . Patrick R. Frierson Freedom and Anthropology in Kant's Moral Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The analysis then turns to the extensive literature that unpacks dominant Euro-American body practices and discourses. As an alternative, I will sketch a more consistently semiotic- and practice-oriented approach that proceeds from linguistic practices to cognitive processes rather than the other way around.

In Becoming Human, Chad Wellmon accomplishes three significant feats: he provides a genealogy of the conceptual crisis that still haunts cultural anthropology, demonstrates the complexities of the ‘Enlightenment project’.

Immanuel Kant wrote that his infamously academic, arid philosophy posed three questions: What can I know? What can I do? What can I be permitted to hope for?

Download Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom (Literature and Phi PDF.

Download Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom (Literature and Phi PDF. Karol Bennett.

Chad Wellmon's title phrase appears in two notable instances in his text. Wellmon writes, "The human being is always becoming

Chad Wellmon's title phrase appears in two notable instances in his text. One, in the first chapter setting out the "historical problem" of anthropology, is from Herder on Kultur. We are not actually human beings yet, but we are becoming human daily. Wellmon writes, "The human being is always becoming. The cost of becoming human is that we cannot be human. Alongside this influential work appeared many enduring articles and books on this theme by other writers in the 1970s and '80s, particularly those of the Italian intellectual historian, Sergio Moravia.

Examines the crisis of a late eighteenth-century anthropology as it relates to the emergence of a modern consciousness that sees . Literature and Philosophy.

Examines the crisis of a late eighteenth-century anthropology as it relates to the emergence of a modern consciousness that sees itself as condemned to draw its norms and very self-understanding from itself. Penn State University Press.

Becoming Human: Romantic Anthropology and the Embodiment of Freedom. Pennsylvania State University. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-271-03734-9. a b c Weinrich, Harald. On Borrowed Time: The Art and Economy of Living with Deadlines. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-88601-5.

Becoming Human depends upon a specific conception of "anthropology" and the paradoxes to which it is subject, a conception . Wellmon's work is also a fitting part of Penn State's Literature and Philosophy series, hovering between literary criticism and philosophical analysis.

Becoming Human depends upon a specific conception of "anthropology" and the paradoxes to which it is subject, a conception heavily indebted to Foucault (pp. 5-6).

Chad Wellmon is an associate professor of German studies at the . Friedrich Nietzsche is now the bogeyman of philosophy, but in his early.

Chad Wellmon is an associate professor of German studies at the University of Virginia and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Friedrich Nietzsche is now the bogeyman of philosophy, but in his early years he was a rising academic and tackled this same subject.

Immanuel Kant wrote that his infamously academic, arid philosophy posed three questions: What can I know? What can I do? What can I be permitted to hope for? He then added a fourth that he claimed would subsume them all: What is the human? This last question, he suggested, could be answered by a new science of man called anthropology. In Becoming Human, Chad Wellmon recounts the emergence of anthropology around a question that had become too capacious for a single discipline and too unstable for the distinctions that had come to ground Enlightenment modernity—distinctions between nature and culture, body and mind, human and animal, European and non-European.

If, as Friedrich Schlegel wrote, we don’t even know “what the human is,” then what would a science of the human base itself on? How would it be possible and why would it even be necessary? This book is an intellectual and literary history of how these questions took form in late eighteenth-century Germany. By examining this period of anthropological discourse through the works of thinkers such as Kant, Novalis, Schleiermacher, Wilhelm von Humboldt, and Goethe, Wellmon argues that the crisis of a late eighteenth-century anthropology marks the emergence of a modernity that sees itself as condemned to draw its norms and very self-understanding from itself. Modernity became fully modern when it became fully reflexive—that is, sensitive to the paradoxical and possibly futile nature of the modern project.

Reviews (2)
santa
For true intellectuals, Wellmon is brilliant! This book is very deep and uses considerable scholastic terminology but for those who have an interest in this kind of deep analysis, it is excellent!

Shaktit
Chad Wellmon’s contribution to the return to Kant, the pre-eminent philosopher of enlightened liberalism, situates the sage of Königsberg within eighteenth century debate s regarding the question ‘what is man?’. The guiding questions from the Critique of Pure Reason, ‘What can I know?, What ought I to do?, What may I hope?’, are folded into the additional question that Kant added in his lectures on logic: ‘What is man?’. Taking up the recent scrutiny of Kant’s racism, Wellmon offers a defense that sees Kant struggling to incorporate the latest ethnographic, proto-anthropological information while avoiding the pitfalls of relativism and metaphysics. Ultimately Kant is seen endorsing an open-ended process of becoming human in which normative prescriptions are acknowledged as historically specific and subject to revision. The human as a norm has universal force and anthropological flexibility. However, ‘[t]he claims of [Kant’s] pragmatic anthropology are not provisional’ (p. 132). That is, criticism of Kant’s proverbial Eurocentrism is deflected into the limitations and demands of a historical moment, and simultaneously the critical philosophy is elaborated as primarily self-critical, more reflexive and tentative than dogmatic. As such, Kant and the Enlightenment project needs to be reconceptualised as a cross current of various perspectives that, while indubitably historically specific, still frame our contemporary confrontation with the question ‘what is man?’. As we struggle with the question what a human being can and should make of herself, Kant’s parochialism, so obvious to clear-eyed contemporary readers, is but a foreshadowing of our own in the eyes of future generations. Kantian critique that takes place as enlightenment operates between transcendental aspirations aiming to ground the conditions of knowledge and more immediate imperatives addressed to a historical subject; between the human being as the object of observation and the transcendental ground of such an observation. Kant’s doubling of the human subject as the subject and object of observation, the relationship between the transcendental idea of freedom and practical freedom, forms a moral economy within a historical and social context. For Kant reason effects a feeling for the moral law, respect, or rather what functions as a feeling by mimicking the pathology of sensibility. Recognition of the moral law involves pain as we feel humiliated at the non-coincidence between our finite self and the purity of the moral law: ‘Embedded in Kant’s claims about moral goodness is a fundamental social critique.... Just as the felt need orients us toward a purposiveness of nature, the feeling of respect orients the subject toward the moral law’(p. 84, p. 85). With the Critique of Practical Reason, ‘Kant intended not only to establish the grounds of what an individual ought to do but to create a universal pedagogical template according to which the “moral predispositions of our nature” could be developed’ (p. 98). Pragmatic anthropology is part of this project. Wellmon argues that Kant fall into methodological confusion in his pragmatic anthropology, confusing the transcendental with the empirical , confusing the subjective conditions of possibility of knowledge with empirical methods. When Kant falls into ‘sometimes offensive generalizations’ (p. 102) it is because his particular observations are framed by his preoccupation the destiny of the human species. That is, reflection of the formation of the individual moral subject is determined by knowledge of the direction of the overall development of the species, and from this view-point various races and peoples are assessed. Kant shuttles between what humans should become to be fully human, and what in fact they are. Wellmon argues that Kant is forced to abandon theoretical reflection in order to fill out his story of the destiny of the human with specific examples, what Schleiermacher disparaged as a ‘”collection of trivialities”’ (p. 193). ‘Empirical, concrete forms of knowledge are subordinated to already existing forms of knowledge.’ (p. 111) Transcendental reflection on a priori forms of intuition and categories of the understanding fuses with a particular, finite being shaped by historical and natural context. ‘Herein lies the paradox of Kant’s pragmatic anthropology. On the one hand, instead of trying to ground human nature, it would study human beings as they appear at a particular time, in a particular situation. On the other hand, it would study human nature ̶ that is, the character of the human species or the constant and universal in the human.’ (pp. 119-120) At once too empirical and too transcendental the educative drive of Kant’s anthropology founders on the articulation of what is natural and what is acquired through human effort. Indeed Kant’s pronouncements on Negroes, women, South Sea Islanders, Indians etc., in his attempt to produce a popular science that would reach beyond a small circle of scholars often reflect rather than reform prejudice. Wellmon sees Kant erasing ‘from sight the conjuncture of transcendental and empirical’ (p. 132). Foregrounding a dynamic familiarity with a cosmopolitical world marked by historical transformations of the human, ‘[k]nowledge of a particular human being is always subordinated to transcendental claims of what human being are and should be’ (p. 132). Thus Kant’s pragmatic anthropology intersects with his morals linking particular peoples and individuals to a teleology of history. Addressing Kant’s four essays on race published between 1775 and 1788, Wellmon underlines race as a ‘a fundamental concern of Kant’s’ (p. 142) mode of classifying human beings into theoretical categories. Kant consistently stressed the unity of the human species and favoured a monogenetic origin that subsequently differentiated into the various races. The mechanism of differentiation was the work of natural germs (Keime) and predispositions, shared by all humans, that are activated in response to environmental conditions. Destined to inhabit the whole of the earth, various potentialities have been realised by various peoples and these characteristics have been passed down to descendants. The original human being had the potential for all races. Alternatively Kant favours as the original stock whites of a brunette colour, or simply whites, only to then withdraw the assertion of white primacy. Although skin colour is the only essential racial difference, the role of observation in understanding race must not be overestimated. Distinguishing races is different to distinguishing kinds or classes for with race reason must leave observation to speculate on origin and descent. Only history as the narrative of development can account for the differentiated unity of humanity. In 1786 explorer and naturalist Georg Forster criticised Kant on the grounds that observation rather than theoretical speculation was fundamental to the correct determination of race. Imposing concepts on to nature distorts the evidence necessary for reaching knowledge. Although Forster maintained an ethical commitment to the unity of humanity he doubted the theoretical viability of monogenesis. Kant had dangerously inserted normative claims into the pursuit of scientific knowledge. No one can know, argues Forster, whether there are multiple human races and what their history and progress is; rather, all must be subject to ongoing empirical testing and observation. Without this there is only abstraction. And, replies Kant, so too are the Linnaean categories favoured by Forster also atemporal morphological categories that frame the observable data. Forster himself, like all scientists, assumes a certain unity of nature and the description of nature takes place in accordance with a principle of reason. As for race, Kant maintains that race cannot be observed and it has no place in the description of nature where we only see regularities or types ‘because it is a concept grounded in the reason of each observer’ (p. 159). Race responds to a need of reason for unity and purpose; it is not an object of knowledge, but it preserves reason against being overwhelmed by contingency and randomness. Race for Kant is a useful way of thinking, a heuristic, that contributes to the unity of the human species. Skin colour and race are a sign of the purposiveness of nature. As Wellmon concludes: ‘Kant’s teleological history has forged an odd alliance ̶ a compatibility even ̶ between the teleological and the empirical’ (p. 161). Agreeing with Forster, Wellmon sees Kant moving from the abstract to the concrete and imposing the abstract on the concrete as if they were homologous. However, since for Kant there is no particular without abstraction (no intuition without a concept), this procedure is unavoidable and must be open to correction by evidence and re-conceptualisation. The abstraction that is race intimately concerns the destiny of humanity, verifying the unity and adaptability of the species, and concerns potentiality and progress. The concept of race cannot but be bound to the idea of final causality since the idea of the human, as perfectible species and individual, is interwoven with the idea of progress. And without the idea of progress there is no perfectibility and no reason for human (rather than animal) existence. In answer to the question of whether Kant’s racial typology implies a racial teleology, Wellmon argues that difference is indeed subordinated to a prior, conceptual, unity. As primarily moral, this teleology posits freedom as the end of the human; freedom attained through educative cultivation and self-fashioning. It is only by thinking of nature as working according to a final purpose that individuals can conceive of themselves as moral beings who can realise their own purposes. Moral becoming and ethical autonomy are dependent on a teleology. Wellmon argues that Kant’s teleology moves away from the category of race: ‘by 1790 he was referring to culture as the ultimate end of nature that absorbs both nature and the human being. Culture can do the conceptual work of unifying the species that race did for a natural history...’ (p. 169). In other words Kant’s interest in race is seen as part of his attempt to articulate natural history, an attempt superseded by the turn to culture rather than history as the space in which the human progresses towards the ends of reason. The Critique of Judgement marks the completion of this reorientation: ‘Thus, whereas the essays on race (in the 1770s and 1780s) worked out the form of a physical teleology, the Kritik der Urteilskraft and the Anthropologie are concerned with transforming this form of teleology into a moral one’ (pp. 170-71). Culture as self-cultivation and cultivation of the species replaces natural history ‘like the germs of Kant’s concept of race, which have seemingly dropped out of Kant’s philosophy of history’ (p. 172). For Wellmon: ‘Just as Kant’s theory of race relied on the transference of inheritable traits through given germs, so too does his notion of culture assume a materialization of cultural knowledge (172). Wellmon omits to discuss the aside on New Hollanders or the inhabitants of Tierra de Fuego in the 'Critique of Judgement' (1790), despite the passage attracting the attention of Gayatri Spivak among others. In the narrative of becoming human education shoulders the burden of race. Wellmon’s measured judgement regarding Kant ̶ ‘[t]heories of racial difference sometimes masked moral prejudices and assumptions’ (p. 187) ̶ , contrasts with the often sanctimonious recent attacks on the philosopher’s raciology. Yet even the casual reader cannot help but notice that Kant’s interest in race did not vanish after 1790, as the manuscript from the mid-1790s and given the title 'Opus postumum' testifies.

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