Philosophical anthropology, sometimes called anthropological philosophy, is a discipline dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person, and interpersonal relationships.
Augustine of Hippo was one of the first Christian ancient Latin authors with a very clear anthropological vision, although it is not clear if he had any influence on Max Scheler, the founder of philosophical anthropology as an independent discipline, nor on any of the major philosophers that followed him. Augustine has been cited by Husserl and Heidegger as one of the early writers to inquire on time-consciousness and the role of seeing in the feeling of "Being-in-the-world".
Augustine saw the human being as a perfect unity of two substances: soul and body. He was much closer in this anthropological view to Aristotle than to Plato. In his late treatise On Care to Be Had for the Dead sec. 5 (420 CE) he insisted that the body is essential part of the human person:
In no wise are the bodies themselves to be spurned. (...) For these pertain not to ornament or aid which is applied from without, but to the very nature of man.
Augustine's favourite figure to describe body-soul unity is marriage: caro tua, coniux tua – your body is your wife. Initially, the two elements were in perfect harmony. After the fall of humanity they are now experiencing dramatic combat between one another.
They are two categorically different things: the body is a three-dimensional object composed of the four elements, whereas the soul has no spatial dimensions. Soul is a kind of substance, participating in reason, fit for ruling the body. Augustine was not preoccupied, as Plato and Descartes were, with going too much into detail in his efforts to explain the metaphysics of the soul-body union. It sufficed for him to admit that they were metaphysically distinct. To be a human is to be a composite of soul and body, and that the soul is superior to the body. The latter statement is grounded in his hierarchical classification of things into those that merely exist, those that exist and live, and those that exist, live, and have intelligence or reason.
According to N. Blasquez, Augustine's dualism of substances of the body and soul doesn't stop him from seeing the unity of body and soul as a substance itself. Following Aristotle and other ancient philosophers, he defined man as a rational mortal animal – animal rationale mortale.
Philosophical anthropology as a kind of thought, before it was founded as a distinct philosophical discipline in the 1920s, emerged as post-medieval thought striving for emancipation from Christian religion and Aristotelic tradition. The origin of this liberation, characteristic of modernity, has been the Cartesian skepticism formulated by Descartes in the first two of his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641).
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) taught the first lectures on anthropology in the European academic world. He specifically developed a conception of pragmatic anthropology, according to which the human being is studied as a free agent. At the same time, he conceived of his anthropology as an empirical, not a strictly philosophical discipline. Both his philosophical and his anthropological work has been one of the influences in the field during the 19th and 20th century. After Kant, Ludwig Feuerbach is sometimes considered the next most important influence and founder of anthropological philosophy.
Since its development in the 1920s, in the milieu of Germany Weimar culture, philosophical anthropology has been turned into a philosophical discipline, competing with the other traditional sub-disciplines of epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics. It is the attempt to unify disparate ways of understanding behaviour of humans as both creatures of their social environments and creators of their own values. Although the majority of philosophers throughout the history of philosophy can be said to have a distinctive "anthropology" that undergirds their thought, philosophical anthropology itself, as a specific discipline in philosophy, arose within the later modern period as an outgrowth from developing methods in philosophy, such as phenomenology and existentialism. The former, which draws its energy from methodical reflection on human experience (first person perspective) as from the philosopher's own personal experience, naturally aided the emergence of philosophical explorations of human nature and the human condition.
Max Scheler, from 1900 till 1920 had been a follower of Husserl's phenomenology, the hegemonic form of philosophy in Germany at the time. Scheler sought to apply Husserl's phenomenological approach to different topics. From 1920 Scheler laid the foundation for philosophical anthropology as a philosophical discipline, competing with phenomenology and other philosophic disciplines. Husserl and Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), were the two most authoritative philosophers in Germany at the time, and their criticism to philosophical anthropology and Scheler have had a major impact on the discipline.
Scheler defined the human being not so much as a "rational animal" (as has traditionally been the case since Aristotle) but essentially as a loving being. He breaks down the traditional hylomorphic conception of the human person, and describes the personal being with a tripartite structure of lived body, soul, and spirit. Love and hatred are not psychological emotions, but spiritual, intentional acts of the person, which he categorises as "intentional feelings." Scheler based his philosophical anthropology in a Christian metaphysics of the spirit. Helmuth Plessner would later emancipate philosophical anthropology from Christianity.
Ernst Cassirer, a neo-Kantian philosopher, has been the most influential source for the definition and development of the field from the 1940s till the 1960s. Particularly influential has been Cassirer's description of man as a symbolic animal, which has been reprised in the 1960s by Gilbert Durand, scholar of symbolic anthropology and the imaginary.
In 1953, future pope Karol Wojtyla based his dissertation thesis on Max Scheler, limiting himself to the works Scheler wrote before rejecting Catholicism and the Judeo-Christian tradition in 1920. Wojtyla used Scheler as an example that phenomenology could be reconciled with Catholicism. Some authors have argued that Wojtyla influenced philosophical anthropology.[a]
In the 20th century, other important contributors and influences to philosophical anthropology have been Paul Häberlin (1878–1960), Martin Buber (1878–1965), E.R. Dodds (1893–1979), Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2002), Eric Voegelin (1901–85), Hans Jonas (1903–93), Josef Pieper (1904–97), Hans-Eduard Hengstenberg (1904–98), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80), Joseph Maréchal (1878–1944), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–61), Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005), René Girard (1923–2015), Alasdair MacIntyre (1929–), Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), Hans Blumenberg, Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), Emerich Coreth (1919–2006), Leonardo Polo (1926–2013).
A large focus of philosophical anthropology is also interpersonal relationships, as an attempt to unify disparate ways of understanding the behaviour of humans as both creatures of their social environments and creators of their own values. It analyses also the ontology that is in play in human relationships – of which intersubjectivity is a major theme. Intersubjectivity is the study of how two individuals, subjects, whose experiences and interpretations of the world are radically different understand and relate to each other.
Recently anthropology has begun to shift towards studies of intersubjectivity and other existential/phenomenological themes. Studies of language have also gained new prominence in philosophy and sociology due to language's close ties with the question of intersubjectivity.
The academic Michael D. Jackson is another important philosophical anthropologist. His research and fieldwork concentrate on existential themes of "being in the world" (Dasein) as well as interpersonal relationships. His methodology challenges traditional anthropology due to its focus on first-person experience. In his most well known book, Minima Ethnographica which focuses on intersubjectivity and interpersonal relationships, he draws upon his ethnographic fieldwork in order to explore existential theory.
In his latest book, Existential Anthropology, he explores the notion of control, stating that humans anthropomorphize inanimate objects around them in order to enter into an interpersonal relationship with them. In this way humans are able to feel as if they have control over situations that they cannot control because rather than treating the object as an object, they treat it as if it is a rational being capable of understanding their feelings and language. Good examples are prayer to gods to alleviate drought or to help a sick person or cursing at a computer that has ceased to function.
Philosophical anthropology is a kind of thought arising in times of crisis. The main anthropologists, Max Scheler and Helmuth Plessner, share the same opinion [that it] has appeared as a consequence of the shaking of the Middle Age's order, the roots of which were Greek tradition and Christian religion.
Feuerbach interpreted philosophical anthropologism as the summary of the entire previous development of philosophical thought. Feuerbach was thus the father of the comprehensive system of anthropological philosophy.
In modern thought, according to Buber, Feuerbach was the most important contributor to philosophical anthropology, next to Kant, because he posited Man as the exclusive object of philosophy...
Ende der 1920er Jahre prominent geworden, weil damals aus verschiedenen Denkrich- tungen und Motiven die Frage nach dem Menschen in die Mitte der philosophischen Problematik rückte. Die philosophische Anthropologie wurde so zu einer neuen Disziplin in der Philosophie neben den eingeführten Subdisziplinen der Erkenntnistheorie, der Ethik, der Metaphysik, der Ästhetik
It was a neo-Kantian philosopher, Ernst Cassirer, who perhaps more than anyone else contributed to the definition and development of philosophical anthropology in recent decades. Particularly relevant here is Cassirer's conception of man as a symbolizing and mythologizing animal.
Animal symbolicum ("symbol-making" or "symbolizing animal") is a definition for humans proposed by the German neo-Kantian Ernst Cassirer.
The tradition since Aristotle has defined a human being as animal rationale (a rational animal). However, Cassirer claimed that man's outstanding characteristic is not in his metaphysical or physical nature, but rather in his work. Humanity cannot be known directly, but has to be known through the analysis of the symbolic universe that man has created historically. Thus man should be defined as animal symbolicum (a symbol-making or symbolizing animal).
On this basis, Cassirer sought to understand human nature by exploring symbolic forms in all aspects of a human being's experience. His work is represented in his three-volume Philosophie der Symbolischen Formen (1923–9, translated as The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms) and is summarized in his An Essay on Man. W. J. T. Mitchell used this term in his essay on "representation" to say that
"man, for many philosophers both ancient and modern, is the "representational animal," homo symbolicum [sic], the creature whose distinctive character is the creation and manipulation of signs - things that stand for or take the place of something else."Anthropologist
An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic, and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting, and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.Atopy (philosophy)
Atopy (Greek ατοπία, atopía - placelessness, unclassifiable, of high originality; Socrates has often been called "átopos") describes the ineffability of things or emotions that are seldom experienced, that are outstanding and that are original in the strict sense. The term depicts a certain quality (of experience) that can be observed within oneself or within others. It does not depict an ideal, although it has been abused to do so, for example by the genius-cult during the era of romanticism.Eternal feminine
The eternal feminine is a psychological archetype or philosophical principle that idealizes an immutable concept of "woman". It is one component of gender essentialism, the belief that men and women have different core "essences" that cannot be altered by time or environment. The conceptual ideal was particularly vivid in the 19th century, when women were often depicted as angelic, responsible for drawing men upward on a moral and spiritual path. Among those virtues variously regarded as essentially feminine are "modesty, gracefulness, purity, delicacy, civility, compliancy, reticence, chastity, affability, [and] politeness".The concept of the "eternal feminine" (German: das Ewig-Weibliche) was particularly important to Goethe, who introduces it at the end of Faust, Part 2. For Goethe, "woman" symbolized pure contemplation, in contrast to masculine action, parallel to the eastern Daoist descriptions of Yin and Yang. The feminine principle is further articulated by Nietzsche within a continuity of life and death, based in large part on his readings of ancient Greek literature, since in Greek culture both childbirth and the care of the dead were managed by women. Domesticity, and the power to redeem and serve as moral guardian, were also components of the "eternal feminine". The virtues of women were inherently private, while those of men were public.George Herbert Mead
George Herbert Mead (February 27, 1863 – April 26, 1931) was an American philosopher, sociologist and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded as one of the founders of symbolic interactionism and of what has come to be referred to as the Chicago sociological tradition.Helmuth Plessner
Helmuth Plessner (4 September 1892, Wiesbaden – 12 June 1985, Göttingen) was a German philosopher and sociologist, and a primary advocate of "philosophical anthropology".Homo faber
Homo faber (Latin for "Man the Maker") is the concept that human beings are able to control their fate and their environment as a result of the use of tools.Intersubjectivity
Intersubjectivity, in philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, is the psychological relation between people. It is usually used in contrast to solipsistic individual experience, emphasizing our inherently social being.Joachim Fischer (sociologist)
Joachim Fischer (born 1951 in Hanover) is a German sociologist and social theorist. His reference book on Philosophical anthropology has become the standard reference for the field. From 2011 to 2017, he was president of the Helmuth Plessner Society.
The focus of his work lies in the areas of philosophical anthropology, sociological theory, culture sociology and sociology of architecture. In 2010, he became an honorary professor at the Philosophical Faculty of the Dresden University of Technology. In the summer semester of 2012 he was a visiting professor at the University Viadrina of Frankfurt (Oder) (Sociology / Sociological Theory).
Fischer´s work has focused on reconstructing the paradigm of modern European Philosophical anthropology (Max Scheler, Helmuth Plessner, Erich Rothacker, Arnold Gehlen, Adolf Portmann) in the 20th century, explicating its significance for biological, sociological and philosophical debates in the 21st century. As a theoretical background of the modern Philosophical anthropology he researches the Critical ontology of the German philosopher Nicolai Hartmann.
In a series of essays he too developed - with reference to Simmel and Freud - a systematic consideration on the figure of the Third: Triads (sociology) seem for intersubjective relationships and institutions to be just as well constitutive than the Dyad (sociology) or the Other (Alterity).L'Imagination symbolique
L'Imagination symbolique (literally The Symbolic Imagination) is a philosophical anthropology book from French anthropologist Gilbert Durand. The first edition was issued in 1964. Durand reprises his influential concept of the anthropological trajectory, and he proposed a "tactical pedagody of the imaginary."Some passages from the essay are revisited version of Dudans's 1954 publication in SUP.: Initiation philosophique. Among the differences, the change in terminology from "cultures apolliniennes" to "régime diurne," and from "cultures dionysiennes" to "régime nocturne"; the earlier terminology followed that of Ruth Benedict and Nietzsche, while the new terminology follows what Durand formulated in 1960 with The Anthropological Structures of the Imaginary.Learning theory (education)
Learning Theory describe how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained.Behaviorists look at learning as an aspect of conditioning and advocate a system of rewards and targets in education. Educators who embrace cognitive theory believe that the definition of learning as a change in behaviour is too narrow, and study the learner rather than their environment—and in particular the complexities of human memory. Those who advocate constructivism believe that a learner's ability to learn relies largely on what they already know and understand, and the acquisition of knowledge should be an individually tailored process of construction. Transformative learning theory focuses on the often-necessary change required in a learner's preconceptions and world view. Geographical learning theory focuses on the ways that contexts and environments shape the learning process.
Outside the realm of educational psychology, techniques to directly observe the functioning of the brain during the learning process, such as event-related potential and functional magnetic resonance imaging, are used in educational neuroscience. The theory of multiple intelligences, where learning is seen as the interaction between dozens of different functional areas in the brain each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses in any particular human learner, has also been proposed, but empirical research has found the theory to be unsupported by evidence.Martti Olavi Siirala
Martti Olavi Siirala (November 24, 1922 – August 18, 2008) was a Finnish psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and philosopher. He was inspired by psychoanalysis, the anthropological medicine of Viktor von Weizsäcker and the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. The outcome was a unique synthesis theory that Siirala called social pathology.
Siirala studied psychoanalysis in Zürich under the guidance of Medard Boss and Gustav Bally. There he met also colleague and lifetime friend Gaetano Benedetti. Siirala was also the founding member of Finnish Therapeia-foundation, an alternative psychoanalytic training institute established 1958. Especially in the early years Siirala was actually the principal of the foundation, both at a theoretical and practical level.Noogenesis
Noogenesis is the emergence and evolution of intelligence.Panrationalism
Panrationalism (or comprehensive rationalism) holds two premises true:
A rationalist accepts any position that can be justified or established by appeal to the rational criteria or authorities.
He accepts only those positions that can be so justified.The first problem that needs to be dealt with is: what is the rational criterion or authority to which they appeal? Here the panrationalists diverge into two groups:
Intellectualists – to whom the rational authority lies in the human intellect, in the faculty of reason.
Empiricists – to whom the rational authority is achieved by sense experience (such as seeing or hearing).Descartes is considered the founder of rationalism and gave the illustration cogito ergo sum as the paradigm to demonstrate what he believed.
The problem of both these appeals is that:
Intellectualism is "too wide" by letting too much in (basically everything, in a strict sense).
Empiricism is "too narrow" in that it excludes too much (basically everything, in a strict sense).In his The Critique of Pure Reason Kant sought to reconcile both appeals.Problems of a Sociology of Knowledge
Problems of a Sociology of Knowledge (German: Probleme einer Soziologie des Wissens) is a 1924 essay by the German philosopher, sociologist, and anthropologist Max Scheler. It was translated into English by Manfred S. Frings and published by Routledge & Kegan Paul in 1980. It reappeared in expanded form in Scheler's 1926 book Die Wissensformen und die Gesellschaft.Raymond Tallis
Raymond C. Tallis (born 10 October 1946) is a philosopher, poet, novelist, cultural critic and a retired medical physician and clinical neuroscientist. Specialising in geriatrics, Tallis served on several UK commissions on medical care of the aged and was an editor or major contributor to two key textbooks in the field, The Clinical Neurology of Old Age and Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.Structuralism
In sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, structuralism is the methodology that implies elements of human culture must be understood by way of their relationship to a broader, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternatively, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract structure".Structuralism in Europe developed in the early 1900s, in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague, Moscow and Copenhagen schools of linguistics. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when structural linguistics were facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance, an array of scholars in the humanities borrowed Saussure's concepts for use in their respective fields of study. French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss was arguably the first such scholar, sparking a widespread interest in structuralism.The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, economics and architecture. The most prominent thinkers associated with structuralism include Claude Lévi-Strauss, linguist Roman Jakobson, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. As an intellectual movement, structuralism was initially presumed to be the heir apparent to existentialism. However, by the late 1960s, many of structuralism's basic tenets came under attack from a new wave of predominantly French intellectuals such as the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the philosopher Jacques Derrida, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the literary critic Roland Barthes. Though elements of their work necessarily relate to structuralism and are informed by it, these theorists have generally been referred to as post-structuralists. In the 1970s, structuralism was criticized for its rigidity and ahistoricism. Despite this, many of structuralism's proponents, such as Lacan, continue to assert an influence on continental philosophy and many of the fundamental assumptions of some of structuralism's post-structuralist critics are a continuation of structuralism.Tabula rasa
Tabula rasa () is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. Proponents of tabula rasa disagree with the doctrine of innatism which holds that the mind is born already in possession of certain knowledge. Generally, proponents of the tabula rasa theory also favour the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate when it comes to aspects of one's personality, social and emotional behaviour, knowledge and sapience.