Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann (2012)

Guido Cusinato
Università degli Studi di Verona
The main theory at the core of this monograph is that the person is an entity ontologically new, since she is able to perform an act of self-transcendence, which is meant as her critical distancing from her own “self”, understood as subject of social recognition (Anerkennung), in order to open to the encounter with the world (Weltoffenheit). This allows us to consider a person in a new way, different both from confessional interpretations that see her only as a center of the spirit and from reductivistic views. Schelling examines the act of self-transcendence through the concept of ecstasy, whereas Scheler associates it with the phenomenological reduction. The act of self-transcendence, that Schelling sees as originated by the “hunger of being”, is at the roots of the formation process of a person (Bildung): the person takes her shape by exiting from her own self-referential dimension and encountering otherness. If considered from this viewpoint, Plato’s “epimeleia heautou” exceeds an intimistic perspective: the “care” is no more a solipsistic self-care, but rather becomes the care through which the person transcends her own self to open to the relationships with otherness. It turns, therefore, into a care for world-openness (care for Weltoffenheit). The transformation of the individual and of society so becomes the double-faced aspect of the same process. The development of this set of problems occurs through a dialogue with Schelling’s and Scheler’s positions, but it is also supported by a historical-philosophical investigation, that for instance provides evidence of the influences of Schelling’s Berlin period on Scheler’s last theories and on the philosophical anthropology of the 20th century. Schelling was the first to conceive the concept of “eccentricity” in an anthropological sense, since until then the term had been confined to Kepler’s astronomy. Consequently, the planets’ elliptic (eccentric) movement heightens to an emblematic metaphor of human nature and freedom. The monograph also examines a possible convergence between Plato’s epimeleia heautou and Scheler’s phenomenological reduction. The book ends with a chapter on the topic of Vorbild. The exemplary testimony, that is Vorbild, becomes witnessing evidence immune from any pedagogical-moralistic intent: in fact, if it should relapse into the rhetoric of the “wish to give a good example”, it would immediately conform to the opposite logic of the model. A model is universal in so far as it makes everyone more like the others, nullifying the diversity, whereas exemplariness is universal in so far as it makes everyone more unique and motivates each one to follow her own characteristic path of existential trans-formation. Exemplarity doesn’t convey any contents, but rather encourages a kind of solidaristic involvement. Yet there are also negative exemplarities (Gegenbild) that place obstacles in the formation and block the existence of the personal center.
Keywords exemplarity  person  max scheler  schelling  phenomenological reduction  phenomenology  Pierre Hadot
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