What is the Anthropocene? Or, neganthropology as a new critique of philosophical and scientific anthropology
Monday, 19 January, 18.00 for 18.15-20.00
Room ER 140, Elvet Riverside 1
Over the course of the 19th century, anthropology became scientific. Following the appearance of enquiries concerning the human, from Hume as well as Rousseau, and the philosophical questioning of anthropology, notably by Kant, a positive anthropology appeared founded on palaeontology and archaeology, and also, in France, on Auguste Comte’s positivist philosophy, which was particularly important for Durkheim.
Nevertheless, the scientific method for defining the human or describing its ‘natural history’, so to speak, was reproduced without a care for the specifically technical conditions that made the emergence of human life possible. As Georges Canguilhem argued, the human is a technical form of life, which is to say, one that emerges only through tool-use.
In France, André Leroi-Gourhan claimed that the emergence of the human was based on a process of technical exteriorisation of life into artefacts. But this has been denied by all kinds of anthropologists, from Levi-Strauss to contemporary American specialists in palaeoanthropology. This denial is the reason for which we must now move from questions of anthropology to questions of what I term neganthropology, which pertains to our use of tools to construct artificial, external and internal milieu whose function is to stave of entropy.