French philosophy today is laying fresh claim to the human. This is not to be mistaken for an exercise in winding back the clock, nor is it a return to previous ideas of the human, much less a coordinated ‘human turn’. It is a series of fundamentally independent and yet strikingly simultaneous initiatives arising across the diverse landscape of French thought to transform and rework the figure of the human. Whereas the latter decades of the twentieth century adopted a decidedly critical and cautious approach to the question of ‘the human’, imprisoning it within the iron bars of scare quotes and burying it under caveats warning against its false universalism and dangerous totalitarianism, now we find ourselves entering a new moment of constructive transformation in which fresh and ambitious figures of the human are forged and discussed, and in which humanism itself is being reinvented and reclaimed in multiple ways. These new figures of the human take diverse and sometimes mutually antagonistic forms, but what unites them all is that they cannot be plotted on the spectrum running between twentieth-century humanism and antihumanism. Each in its own way rejects the assumptions that humanism and antihumanism share. By tracing these varied transformations of the human we can discern one of the most widespread, most surprising and potentially most transformative trends in contemporary French thought....
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