September 30, 2012

Philosophical approach to Man must remain open to findings of respective disciplines (Logic, Aesthetics, Law, Psychology, Economy, Ethics, even Science, etc.) though they tend to delimit and essentialise (even Particularise?) man, but the approach must not make itself dependant on them, for each of these rests on objectification, “on what” Buber observes, “may be termed it’s ‘dehumanisation.’”

Here, now, further direct quotes from Buber’s essay “What is Man?: Kant’s Questions” taken from Between Man and Man (1965)

… and even a discipline like the philosophy of history? which is so concerned with the actual man, must, in order to be able to comprehend man as a historical being, renounce consideration of the whole man—of which the kind of man who is living outside history in the unchanging rhythm of nature is an essential part. What the philosophical disciplines are able to contribute to answering Kant’s first three questions, even if it is only by clarifying them, or teaching me to recognize the problems they contain, they are able to do only by not waiting for the answer to the fourth question.

Nor can philosophical anthropology itself set itself the task of establishing a foundation either for metaphysics or for the individual philosophical sciences. If it attempted to answer the question What is man? in such a general way that answers to the other questions could be derived from it, it would miss the very reality of its own subject. For it would reach, instead of the subject’s genuine wholeness, which can become visible only by the contemplation of all its manifold nature, a false unity which has no reality. A legitimate philosophical anthropology must know that there is not merely a human species but also peoples, not merely a human soul but also types and characters, not merely a human life but also stages in life; only from the systematic comprehension of these and of all other differences, from the recognition of the dynamic that exerts power within every particular reality and between them, and from the constantly new proof of the one in the many, can it come to see the wholeness of man. For that very reason it cannot grasp man in that absoluteness which, though it does not speak out from Kant’s fourth question, yet very easily presents itself when an answer is attempted— the answer which Kant, as I have said, avoided giving. Even as it must again and again distinguish within the human race in order to arrive at a solid comprehension, so it must put man in all seriousness into nature, it must compare him with other things, other living creatures, other bearers of consciousness, in order to define his special place reliably for him.


And more; it is not enough for him to stake his self as an object of knowledge. He can know the wholeness of the person and through it the wholeness of man only when he does not leave his subjectivity out and does not remain an untouched observer. He must enter, completely and in reality, into the act of self-reflection, in order to become aware of human wholeness. In other words, he must carry out this act of entry into that unique dimension as an act of his life, without any prepared philosophical security; that is, he must expose himself to all that can meet you when you are really living. Here you do not attain to knowledge by remaining on the shore and watching the foaming waves, you must make the venture and cast yourself in, you must swim, alert and with all your force, even if a moment comes when you think you are losing consciousness: in this way, and in no other, do you reach anthro­pological insight. So long as you “have” yourself, have yourself as an object, your experience of man is only as of a thing among things, the wholeness which is to be grasped is not yet “there”; only when you are, and nothing else but that, is the wholeness there, and able to be grasped. You perceive only as much as the reality of the “being there” incidentally yields to you; but you do perceive that, and the nucleus of the crystallization develops itself.

An example may clarify more precisely the relation between the psy­chologist and the anthropologist. If both of them investigate, say, the phenomenon of anger, the psychologist will try to grasp what the angry man feels, what his motives and the impulses of his will are, but the anthropologist will also try to grasp what he is doing. In respect of this phenomenon self-observation, being by nature disposed to weaken the spontaneity and unruliness of anger, will be especially difficult for both of them. The psychologist will try to meet this difficulty by a specific division of consciousness, which enables him to remain outside with the observing part of his being and yet let his passion run its course as undisturbed as possible. Of course this passion can then not avoid becoming similar to that of the actor, that is, though it can still be heightened in comparison with an unobserved passion, its course will be different: there will be a release which is willed and which takes the place of the elemental outbreak, there will be a vehemence which will be more emphasized, more deliberate, more dramatic. The anthropologist can have nothing to do with a division of consciousness, since he has to do with the unbroken wholeness of events, and especially with the unbroken natural connexion between feelings and actions; and this connexion is most powerfully influenced in self-observation, since the pure spontaneity of the action is bound to suffer essentially. It remains for the anthropologist only to resign any attempt to stay outside his observing self, and thus when he is overcome by anger not to disturb it in its course by becoming a spectator of it, but to let it rage to its conclusion without trying to gain a perspective. He will be able to register in the act of recollection what he felt and did then; for him memory takes the place of psychological self-experience. But as great writers in their dealings with other men do not deliberately register their peculiarities and, so to speak, make invisible notes, but deal with them in a natural and uninhibited way, and leave the harvest to the hour of harvest, so it is the memory of the competent anthropologist which has, with reference to himself as to others, the concentrating power which preserves what is essential. In the moment of life he has nothing else in his mind but to live what is to be lived … with his whole being


i take these descriptions as fundamental assistance in asking the the two central questions of Kant’s four questions:

1.) What can i know?

2.)What ought i do?
3.)What may i hope?

4.)What is man? 

We ask, therefore, aware of the danger described above yet we ask, nonetheless.

I wish also the invoke the mindfulness Serres (again) mentions in The Parasite as an awareness of the observer(s).  my parenthesis

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