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Volume 7, 2018

Ethics and Interdependence

Tilman Borsche
Pages 67-81
DOI: 10.5840/ecoethica20181012

Ein neuer Begriff von Individualität im Anschluss an Wilhelm von Humboldt als Grundlage für eine Ethik der Individualtät

This paper takes Wilhelm von Humboldt seriously—as a philosopher. It does so by exploring Humboldt’s central notion of “Individuum/Individualität,” which does not coincide with the philosophical usage of “individual/individuality” in English. It is closer related to Leibniz’s notion of the “monad,” being characterized by infinity, totality and ineffability. Humboldt’s focus on the philosophical role of language does not primarily aim at an analysis of the system(s) of language(s), but rather at an hermeneutical investigation of actual thinking and speaking among thinking and speaking individuals, every one of them being characterized by infinity, totality and ineffability. This analysis eventually leads to a new approach to ethics. It circumscribes an ethics without universal truths, guided by the respect of the words of the others even if we cannot ever fully understand them. But it is necessarily their words which co-constitute our mentally framed perception of the world.