"From Cosmos to Polis: Making (and Unmaking) Humans"

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Sorin Antohi

(The Berendel Foundation, London)

"From Cosmos to Polis: Making (and Unmaking)Humans"


Paper presented to the conference:

"Crafting Humans:From Genesis to Eugenics and Beyond"

8-10 September 2011, Queens College, Oxford


Second Annual Conference of the Berendel Foundation, in association with the Centre for health Medicine and Society and History of Race and Eugenics Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust



Abstract: In most documented cultures, cosmogonies, theogonies, and anthropogonies are intertwined. Visions of (ideal) humans and of the ways in which they could be created/crafted/bettered (processes that may eventually entail tampering with existing forms of humanity and ultimately their destruction) are coextensive with world history. They form a continuum ranging from metaphysics to technology, from genesis to eugenics, from genocide to the rise of fantasies of the ‘posthuman’. This paper provides succinct critical reflections on this continuum.


Short Bio: Sorin Antohi is a historian of ideas, essayist, translator and consultant. He has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Bucharest, and the Central European University in Budapest (where he also founded the ‘Pasts, Inc. Institute for Historical Studies’). Antohi has published widely on intellectual history, the history of ideas, historical theory and the history of historiography, as well as on Romanian studies in European contexts. He has initiated the creation of the Berendel Foundation and is a member of its Board of Directors.



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