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the h.project

the h.project

Tobias Rees
Reid Hoffman Professor of Humanities, The New School of Social Research; Director, Transformations of the Human, Berggruen Institute
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 15, 2019 - 15:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


The modern, in its aspirations time and place independent concept of ‘the human’ is a form that was invented by European philosophers between the 1630s and the 1890s. Today, this form fails us. (These failures are visible to anyone who can and cares to see). Indeed, it is a bit as if the world (we ourselves) has outgrown the human, has outgrown the vocabulary that we have had available to think about ourselves as human, that, like a scaffold, gave us the form ‘human.'

What to do? What to do when we know that the form we have lived by, that informs our sense of self, fails us? What is the effect of this failure on what it means to be human? On what it means to live a human life –– to be in/be part of the world?

And what is the effect of the failure of the human on the human sciences (insofar as the human sciences were contingent on 'the human')? Can one render visible things human as a question at a moment in time in which the human fails us? How? What would it mean to practice the human sciences –– to practice art –– after the human? Can one decouple the possibility of the human sciences from the human? And rethink them as a ceaseless exercise in freedom?

Can one be human after ‘the human?’


Tobias Rees is the founding Director of the Berggruen Institute’s Transformations of the Human Program. He also serves as Reid Hoffman Professor of Humanities at the New School for Social Research and is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Rees is author of three books: Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary (2008), Plastic Reason (2016), and most recently of After Ethnos (2018).