A question of species Astonishment at the beginning of the human being
Author: Ahrens, Jörn
Source: Law and Critique, Volume 15, Number 1, 2004 , pp. 65-78(14)
Abstract:The decoding of the human genome, as well as current research on human stem cells and early embryos, demands new legal and political definitions of the human species. Both the act of limiting research on human embryos, because they are themselves human, or the act of permitting such research since they are not human at all, entail a very new definition of the human species. Where politics is confronted with the task of defining the essence and the anthropos of the human being and of transforming this definition into legitimated social actions, we must admit of an increase in civil procedures. This debate is constantly pushing at the borders of the definition of `humanness'; borders which both limit its definition and scope. The biosciences not only transgress such borders but also substantially damage them; concerned subjects cannot proceed against such violations of the borders of `humanness'. The transposition of a distinct non-human life form into a human one is endangering the human being as a distinct species. In this case, however, Carl Schmitt's theory of politics, as an opposition to the enemy, becomes relevant to the human organism itself as it is challenged by the appearance of non-human forms of life within it.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Kulturwissenschaftliches Seminar, Sophienstraße 22a, 10178 Berlin, Germany; firstname.lastname@example.org, Email: email@example.com
Publication date: 2004-01-01