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Philosophical Anthropology

An abiding interest of mine is on those key questions "What does it mean to be a human being?" and "What is my place in the cosmos?" These were the key questions of philosophical anthropology and a number of my essays explore these issues, especially in their relation to technology and the digital culture. I am especially interested in the issue of the posthuman and how it might relate to philosophical anthropology.

This is my dissertation, completed in 1991 at The University of Texas at Austin, under the direction of Dr. Douglas Browning. A brief account of its central argument can be found below in the essay "Renewing Anthropological Reflection."

A critique of contemporary philosophy from the perspective of philosophical anthropology, this essay, appearing in Man and World, critically examines the philosophy of Michel Foucault and Daniel Dennett.

Appearing in Philosophy Today, this essay explores the philosophical anthropology of Max Scheler, as detailed in his Man's Place in Nature, and argues for his continuing relevance.

This essay was written for the volume Philosophy and Human Nature, from Davies Publishing, Co., and part of the Critical Studies in the Humanities series and is an expanded version of "Renewing Anthropological Reflection."

This is a handout that outlines a lecture I delivered on the theme of the posthuman and various problems attendant to it.

Published in the journal Expositions, this essay examines the recent vogue of the posthuman from the perspective of the philosophical anthropology of Michael Landmann.

This essay examines the nature of the human being at the close of the twentieth century and the analogies often drawn between human beings, animals, and machines. It was presented as a public lecture for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

This essay, published in the Southwestern Philosophical Review, explores and critiques the image of human nature dominant in much research in Artificial Intelligence.

This is an updated version of a conference paper presented at the World Congress of Philosophy and published in Contemporary Philosophy. It argues that the view of human nature predominant in the digital culture is a Cartesian view long rejected by philosophers.

What can popular culture tell us about human nature and the posthuman? Quite a bit, this paper suggests. This essay examines the Star Trek franchise from the perspective of the human-machine interface and the claim that the boundary between human being and machine is ever more elusive. I suggest that Star Trek actually has a much more complicated vision of human nature than is often inferred.

This is a review of N. Katherine Hayles' book How We Became Posthuman which appeared in The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory.

While the core questions of philosophical anthropology are fundamental philosophical questions, the topic of human nature has not been thought to be central to contemporary philosophy and it is not often taught in the undergraduate philosophy curriculum. This draft of an essay was presented at a meeting of the American Association of Philosophy Teaches and discusses courses in philosophy and human nature.

A brief book review appearing in Questions: Philosophy for Young People.

Presented at a conference organized to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of the Species, this conference presentation critically assesses the view of human nature implicit in John Harris' Enhancing Evolution.

Drawing on the philosophical anthropology and philosophy of technology of Ernst Cassirer, this essay examines competing frameworks for addressing the issue of transforming humanity. It was presented at the conference "Transforming Humanity: Fantasy? Dream? Nightmare?" and subsequently published in the Humanities and Technology Review.

Dennis M. Weiss, Editor

Are human beings little more than complicated animals? Are we defined by our biology? What role does culture play in shaping us? Can science account for the whole of our nature? These perennial philosophical questions are being raised with new urgency in recent provocative debates over mapping the human genome, the merits of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, and the moral claims of animals and the environment. These questions are central as well to the group of essays collected in this volume. Interpreting Man brings together for the first time substantial selections from an international group of philosophers and social theorists devoted to a critical examination of what it means to be human. United in their concern for understanding the nature of the whole human being, the essays collected here,  many formerly out of print and no longer widely available, offer fresh insights into human nature and address issues that go to the heart of contemporary philosophical, scientific, and humanistic studies. They represent some of the finest contemporary perspectives on human nature and are an essential resource for anyone interested in either perennial philosophical problems or the contemporary human scene. Interpreting Man includes selections from Max Scheler, Arnold Gehlen, Ernst Cassirer, Helmuth Plessner, Michael Landmann, Martin Buber, and Jose Ortega y Gasset.

Interpreting Man was published in 2003 by the Davies Group Publishing Company and is available on Amazon.

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