On human involution: Posthumanist anthropology and the question of ecology in the work of Hans Blumenberg and Niklas Luhmann

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Abstract

Scholars in the environmental humanities frequently argue that a clear understanding of humanity’s ecological embeddedness is sufficient to dismantle the anthropocentric biases of traditional humanism. Following Hans Blumenberg’s interpretation of the Copernican turn, this article argues that the proponents of this view fail to recognize that the desire to overcome anthropocentrism was central to Enlightenment thought. Like the latter, ecological posthumanism accords itself cognitive privileges that presuppose a successful distantiation of the world. According to Blumenberg’s anthropology, the need to turn away from the world in order to engage with it is a distinctly human trait. However, second-order cybernetics and Niklas Luhmann’s social systems theory offer ways to conceptualize this "involution" as a general feature of living things, whose relative autonomy is predicated on the possibility of operational closure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-104
Number of pages22
JournalNew German Critique
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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