Christoph Antweiler (Bonn): Humanism beyond the West: Anthropological Basics for a Realistic Cosmopolitanism


How can we conceive of globality as an entity without playing unity and diversity off one another? While recognizing the need for pursuing some common orientation in our interconnected world, we end up finding more questions than answers. What might a humanism look like that does not move too rapidly to universalize the views and historical experiences of the European or Atlantic world? How do we keep the terms “culture” and “humanity” from being misused as verbal weapons? Is a cosmopolitanism conceivable that proceeds from an understanding of humankind as one entity but does not then end in wishful thinking or require us to re-design cultures to fit some sort of global template?

This talk will approach these questions from a cross-cultural perspective. Societal values should be set by a political process and thus we cannot derive them from science. But any realistic value-orientation needs empirical knowledge about humans and their cultures. A crucial point for a cosmopolitan humanism is empirical knowledge about commonalities between cultures (cultural universals) as well as among all people (biotic universals). I advocate a broad concept of anthropology as a “Wissenschaft vom ganzen Menschen”.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler, Universität Bonn

Curriculum Vitae

Cultural anthropologist Prof. Dr. phil., Dipl. geol. Christoph Antweiler is Director of the Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA), Germany, and Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Bonn, as well as Board Member of EUROSEAS (European Association of Southeast Asian Studies), Member of the International Advisory Board Humboldt-Forum (Berlin) and Member of the Academia Europea (London). His fields of research are urbanity, decision-making, cognition, local knowledge, societal evolution, human universals and applied anthropology, while his research is regionally concentrating on Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.