German Philosophy

Philosophy 33 (127):365-368 (1958)
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Encounter is one of the magical keywords of our time which seems to open up new vistas. Rencontre, Encounter, Begegnung, the Festschrift dedicated to Professor F. J. J. Buytendijk is noteworthy for several reasons. First, the meanings of the three terms are by no means identical. In encounter the negative sense “meet in a hostile manner”, prevails in Begegnung the affirmative sense, whereas rencontre is neutral and can be used in both senses. Secondly, whereas Festschriften tend to become a nuisance, occasionally arranged by the recipients ad majorem auctoris gloriam, this one is well-deserved and well-arranged. Buytendijk is a leading Dutch biologist, physiologist and psychologist of European stature with an excellent resistance record. Since the contributors were asked to refer to his paper, La phénoménologie de la rencontre, the most important papers are contributions to a psychology of rencontre. Thus the volume becomes representative of an important trend in European biology and psychology. The collaboration of biologists, psychologists and psychiatrists with philosophers is exemplary and fruitful. A non-behaviourist and non-materialist experimental psychology, a personalist counterpart to a behaviourist stimulus-response psychology, emerges in outlines. It has transcended the isolated individual and isolated impressions and ideas, and regards man as a being-within-the-world together with other persons. the influence of Husserl's phenomenology and of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit is outstanding. New categories are used, such as “authentic” and “inauthentic” rencontre, and new problems arise, e.g. the smiling of a child interpreted as a primitive mode of rencontre, and that of “Se fermer et s’ouvrir”. It is quite impossible to discuss here single contributions. It must suffice to say that they confirm Buytendijk's central conception that somehow mind is already present within the organism, and that on the other hand, blind necessity penetrates human affairs.



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