Volume 28, Issue 4, 2018
Philosophical Anthropology at the Crossroads
Philosophical Anthropology as Social Critique
The author goes out from Helmuth Plessner’s book Die Grenzen der Gemeinschaft to show how the basic categories of Plessner’s philosophical anthropology, especially the eccentric position conception, apply to his critique of community-oriented societies like communism and fascism. Plessner saw the alternative to a community-based society in a model where social bonds took place by association, and in which the anthropological a priori enjoyed the optimum conditions for self-expression (in such dimensions of the public sphere as ceremony, prestige, diplomacy and tact). This social model also allows the full establishment of social roles in the anthropological sense, something that is annihilated by community-type societies. The author also addresses the different ways in which the “social role” category is interpreted by Plessner (the anthropological approach) and Ralf Dahrendorf (a functionalistic approach drawing on Marxism and the concept of alienation, which Plessner felt unfamiliar with), and concludes with a few concrete and methodologically grounded objections to Plessner’s theory.