University of Auckland
3-5 December 2008

Theme: The Post/Human Condition

What is it to be human? The advent of modern science, the industrial revolution, the rise of the modern nation-state, and the development of evolutionary theory conspired to bring about the collapse of traditional understandings of the human condition during the Enlightenment. But recently the modern and postmodern paradigms that emerged out of this period of philosophical upheaval have themselves been put to the test by an unprecedented constellation of phenomena: biotechnologies, globalization, the ecological crisis, and the virtualization of social relations, to name but a few.

How then are we to think about the human experience today? What language can we find for it? Indeed, what language would provide not only a descriptive but also the necessary critical perspective on the human condition in the contemporary context? Is the category of "the human" still viable, or should we now speak of "the post-human"? Are we better served by categories such as "animal" or "life"? Are the "de-centering" strategies of postmodernism to be further developed, or is it imperative, as some have maintained, to revive the concept of the "subject"? What is the status of the body and embodiment in an age of technological prosthesis and genetic manipulation? How is the social or "plural" character of human existence to be theorized in view of contemporary patterns and possibilities of familial, economic, and political interaction? What, if anything, has been contributed by the recent "post-secular turn" in philosophy to questions concerning the human condition? And finally, what, if anything, can be said by the philosopher about the "ends" of humanity today?

Keynote speakers

Conference streams

  • Animality and Humanity
  • Human/Post-Human
  • Bare Life and Biopolitics
  • The Posthuman Body
  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Phenomenology of Life
  • Phenomenology and Post-Phenomenology
  • Arendt and the Human Condition
  • Hegel, Desire, Subjectivity
  • Levinas and the Humanism of the Other
  • Humanism and Anti-Humanism
  • The Legacy of Existentialism
  • Comparative Philosophy
  • Philosophy & Literature
  • A Post-Human Aesthetics?
  • Richard Rorty in memoriam
  • Philosophy of the Future
  • The Human To-Come

Conference Organisers

  • Dr Matheson Russell (Auckland)
  • Simone Drichel (Otago)