Seminar with Professor Steve Fuller 'Humanity: The Always Already - or Never To Be - Object of the Social Sciences?'
Professor Steve Fuller, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick
Organised byEgenis and Department of Sociology and Philosophy
Rm. B10, Hatherly Labs
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PM
Abstract ‘Humanity’ as the name for both an object of study and a political project has been the hallmark of a distinct set of disciplines that since the 19th century have been called the ‘social sciences’. However, today ‘social science’ is losing its salience as a brand name. Recent developments in both science policy and popular science – ranging from the NSF’s ‘converging technologies’ agenda to John Brockman’s ‘third culture’ publishing ventures – suggest that philosophically enhanced natural scientists are prepared to take up the fundamental theoretical tasks of re-defining the human condition for the 21st century. Emerging from these developments is the following question: Are humans defined in terms of where they came from or where they are going – the actual past or the potential future? The figures of Peter Singer and Ray Kurzweil – animal rights vs. spiritual machines – vividly epitomize the choice, which appears to reinvent classic definition of humanity in terms of the mind-body dualism. I shall explore this apparent revival of dualism and its implications for both human self-understanding and the fate of the social sciences.