Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Humanism / Anti-Humanism: Philosophical Perspectives," 2010 Spring Philosophy Workshop, Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy, University of Melbourne, October 1, 2010.

Since the end of the Second World War, an unmistakable feature of much moral, juridical and political discourse has been the near-constant appeal to “humanity” as the yardstick and sometimes the source of value, justice and “right”.

But what do we mean today when we speak of “humanity”? What image or concept of the human is invoked when we talk of “human rights”, or “humanitarian” intervention, (or, as in philosophy, of “human finitude”?) More importantly: what is the effect of our notions of and appeals to “the human” in the legal, metaphysical and ethical situations in which these ideas are not only invoked but deployed?

This year’s MSCP Spring workshop on the topic of “humanism” and “anti-humanism” in modern European thought will engage with these topics and many more. The panel will take the work of philosophers as the point of departure for a wide-ranging discussion of humanity and the inhuman, immanence and transcendence, finitude and infinity, as these oppositions are played out in the arenas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and, in particular, politics.

From Emmanuel Levinas’s “humanism of the other man”, to Ray Brassier’s meditation on the power of thought and its relation to human extinction, we will address the question: can humanism have anything to say to the citizens of the twenty-first century? If so, which parts of its message should we listen to?


  • Dr Geoff Boucher, Deakin University
  • Bryan Cooke, Social Theory, University of Melbourne
  • Dr Cameron Shingleton, MSCP
  • Ricki Sebold, Latrobe University
  • Dr Andrea Leon-Monterro, MSCP
  • Dr Matthew Sharpe (Chair), Deakin University

The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy is an independent teaching and research group housed in the Philosophy Department at the University of Melbourne. The MSCP teaches philosophy courses at its annual summer and winter schools. Please see the website for details and join our mailing list to be notified of upcoming MSCP events and philosophical activity in the community:

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