The Possibility of Philosophical Anthropology

In Georg W. Bertram, Robin Celikates, Christophe Laudou & David Lauer (eds.), Socialité et reconnaissance: Grammaires de l’humain. L'Harmattan. pp. 105-121 (2007)
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Is a conception of human nature still possible or even desirable in light of the “postmetaphysical sensibilities” of our time? Furthermore, can philosophy make any contribution towards the articulation of a tenable conception of human nature given this current intellectual climate? I will argue in this paper that affirmative answers can be given to both of these questions. Section I rehearses briefly some of the difficulties and even dangers involved in working out any conception of human nature at all, let alone one that is philosophically informed. Section II sketches what I argue to be three necessary aspects of a tenable philosophical anthropology. Finally, section III argues that such a philosophical anthropology is only justifiable, given our postmetaphysical sensibilities, by its use of “transcendental arguments” in justifying its claims, ones that nonetheless must repudiate a common but damaging assumption that arguing for the conclusions of such arguments commits one necessarily to a hyper-strong conception of subjectivity. In general, my primary aim in this paper is only to make plausible, not so much to justify, let alone defend, adequately the aspects of a conception of a tenable philosophical anthropology as sketched below.

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Jo-Jo Koo
Duke University


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