Anthropocene and Anthropogenesis: Philosophical Anthropology and the Ends of Man

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South Atlantic Quarterly Special Issue on Autonomism in the Anthropocene


What is the “anthropos,” humanity of the Anthropocene? In many ways this would seem to be beside the point; the point is not how humanity is defined, but charting its massive effects on the planet. However, conceptions of the Anthropocene end up answering the question of humanity, albeit obliquely. These answers end up duplicating what Jason W. Moore refers to as Cartesian dualism, placing humanity on the side of either nature or society. What the Anthropocene demands is a political anthropology that posits humanity as the intersection of nature and history. It is for this reason that Paolo Virno's conception of anthropogenesis might be a useful concept for the anthropocene, and vice versa. The Anthropocene returns us to the question of capitalism and human nature, but this theoretical déjà vu is an attempt to escape the generalized déjà vu of the end of history.


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