Nature and the Boundaries of the Human: Monkeys, Monsters, and Natural Peoples

in Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226983417
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983462 | DOI:
Nature and the Boundaries of the Human: Monkeys, Monsters, and Natural Peoples

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The idea of nature and a natural science that informed German anthropology was based on elements from two conflicting approaches, conventionally associated with Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schelling. The founders of German anthropology belonged to a generation of natural scientists who, in the second half of the nineteenth century, rejected Schelling's romantic Naturphilosophie in favor of a return to Kant's more secular and rationalist notion of nature and natural science. As is the case with so many philosophical rejections, however, anthropologists preserved as much Naturphilosophie as they cast off, and their understanding of nature was really a synthesis of the two philosophers' approaches. The understanding of nature as radically separate from time and narrative rested also on a distinctly German understanding of the relation of theology, nature, and history.

Keywords: German anthropology; Immanuel Kant; Friedrich Schelling; natural science; rationalism; theology; nature; history

Chapter.  7689 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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