The human, unlike any other species,
comes into the world so weak, so needy, so deprived of nature's
teachings, so completely without abilities and talents exactly so that
the human, unlike any other species can enjoy an elevated position and so that the human species, unlike all animal species, becomes an internally coherent whole!
Posthumanism is usually understood to be a contemporary critical model but in his Treatise on the Origin of Language (1772) Johann Gottfried von Herder conceives of the human being as a uniquely deficient animal, a Mängelwesen, who because of his unique deficiencies also has a unique potential: the capacity to develop language, society, culture, and technology. Can this be considered evidence of a posthumanistic vein in 18th century thought? We're interested in papers that address this construction of the human as a deficient being as a counter narrative to standard discourses on personhood in the eighteenth century. We're also interested in soliciting conference papers that discuss both the precursors to and the afterlife of Herder's conception of man as a deficient being. How is the eighteenth century vision of man as a being constituted by the very things he lacks derived from medieval and classical traditions of the human? How does this idea resonate in a bionic era? How does it relate to efforts to overcome humanity? How does it produce productivity? We're interested in these questions but we're also interested in related investigations from other disciplines, including, but not limited to: