Humanism beyond social constructivism


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Keyword: Humanities and the Arts, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion, Philosophy, Humaniora och konst, Filosofi, etik och religion, Filosofi, Humanities, Posthumanism, Evolution, Steven Pinker, Svenska med didaktisk inriktning, Swedish and Education
Publication year: 2018
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutionsSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
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Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, with its subtitle The Modern Denial of Human Nature, published 2002, is a book that every person active within the field of humanities should read. The main thesis in the book is that man is not so much a tabula rasa where different social powers form his identity, as nature shaped by evolution. From the perspective of the humanities this more or less biological view is often seen as narrow and reductionist. The humanist alternative is man seen as a social construction shaped by history and the forces that lie within it. Man is culture, not nature. As representatives of the humanities we often see ourselves as an elite with the intellectual tools to see the powers that shape history, society and institutions. The typical humanist sees him- or herself as a critic of contemporary society with the agenda of liberating the oppressed. Intellectuals in the humanities therefore to easily lend themselves to the social engineering of ideologies. This is also one reason why the role of the humanist and the humanities is questioned within contemporary society. In a complex and incomprehensible world we doubt that a political elite can be the Master Planners that shape society towards total equality. The expanding research in genetics shows us that much of our identity is shaped by our biology. To regain its rightful intellectual status and importance, humanism, or perhaps post-humanism, needs to question its role of reshaping the nature of man by social means, and with realism see and accept ourselves as one creature among others fabricated through evolution, and thus ask the interesting questions about such a partly flawed being.


Ingemar Friberg

Luleå tekniska universitet; Pedagogik, språk och Ämnesdidaktik
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