Life-Philosophical Anthropology as the Missing Third: On Peter Gordon's Continental Divide

History of European Ideas 41 (4):432-439 (2015)
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Abstract

SummaryThough Peter Gordon mentioned philosophical anthropology in his book Continental Divide, he has not yet realized how it works independently from Cassirer's and Heidegger's prejudices. The whole argument between them before, in and after Davos raged around the status of philosophical anthropology: How do the spiritualisation of life and the enlivening of the spirit come about? This was not just the central question for philosophical anthropology founded by Max Scheler, but also in Wilhelm Dilthey's life philosophy, which was systematized by Georg Misch. Cassirer and Heidegger shared three shortcomings with respect to the Life-philosophical Anthropology. Neither had a philosophy of nature or a philosophy of sociaty or a philosophy of history. The insight into the unfathomability of humans is given a political edge in Helmuth Plessner's book Power and Human Nature. Elevating it to the principle of democratic equality with respect to the worth of all cultures one opens up the potential for a form of civil competition that might supersede ethnocentric wars.

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