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French Philosophy TodayNew Figures of the Human in Badiou, Meillassoux, Malabou, Serres and Latour$
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Christopher Watkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414739

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414739.001.0001

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Michel Serres: Universal Humanism

Michel Serres: Universal Humanism

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter 5 Michel Serres: Universal Humanism
Source:
French Philosophy Today
Author(s):

Christopher Watkin

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414739.003.0006

Michel Serres seeks to elaborate an account of the human that accommodates both determinate qualities (like Badiou and Meillassoux) and de-differentiation (like Malabou). His aim is to marry singularity and determinacy with genericity and plurality, yielding neither an undifferentiated and abstract notion of humanity nor a diversity of individuals with nothing in common. Humanity is best understood, for Serres, as part of the ‘Great Story’ (Grand Récit) of the universe, a story not only about, but also told by, the natural world. The combination of Serres’s Great Story and his introduction of the two figures of multi-coloured Harlequin and all-white Pierrot gives him a multi-modal account of humanity (capacities plus narrative), and this makes the figure of the human that emerges from his work richer, as well as more situated in its landscape and its history, than the one we find in the accounts considered in chapters 1-4. There is, however, a danger that Serres’s Great Story becomes a ‘host story’ for his account of the human, forcing all humans into a single narrative mould in the same way that a host capacity or a host substance routes all discourse about the human through one single characteristic or quality.

Keywords:   Michel Serres, Human, Humanism, Econarratology, Biosemiotics, Ecology, Humanity, Identity, Narrative

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