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Ways of Being / Modes of Existence: Human, animal, machine
full name / name of organization:
Louisiana State University Department of French Studies
While the human being is often situated at the forefront of study in the humanities, our ways of being and modes of existence often relate to the non-human: animals, machines, tools, animate or inanimate objects, environment, the universe, the world. Our ecological coexistence as human beings with non-human beings cannot be denied. But what exactly differentiates humans from non-humans? Are the ontological, existential, and linguistic boundaries between them strictly delimited or porous? How do we define human potentiality without positing the non-human? How can we make claims about what the human is without also articulating what it is not?
Language is perhaps at the heart of the question of human being’s relationship with non-humans. Over the past century, the study of animal and digital communication and their algorithmic systems has questioned the faculty of speech as the distinguishing feature of human beings. Many of us now use technologies that allow us to communicate in ways unimaginable in the history of humankind a little over a century and a half ago. The acquisition, codification, and communication of language amongst our nearest evolutionary cohabitants transformed the way we consider our coexistence with other animal species.
Much ink has been spilled concerning the ontological or existential status of the distinctions between humans, animals, and machines. Is such a posited ontological difference between humans, animals, and machines justifiable? How do we justify or reject this?
We accept submissions in French and in English. We accept papers whose subject-matter is French or Francophone-oriented. And to encourage interdisciplinarity, we will accept papers that do not necessarily relate to French or Francophone studies, if the paper is presented in French. We strongly encourage submissions from multiple disciplines and areas of study. We also encourage submissions of two or more individuals who wish to form a panel on a particular topic related to the theme of the conference.
Please submit a one-page abstract as an attachment along with contact information, including name, institutional affiliation, degree level, email and phone number by January 30, 2013 to email@example.com
Suggested topics and potential panels include but are not limited to: