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Philosophical Anthropology: Selected Chapters

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Jana Trajtelová

This textbook discusses and systemises several selected topics of philosophical anthropology. The problem of man cannot be grasped through only one main principle or aspect (as the principle of his or her «humanity»). The chapters of this book rather outline several specific aspects which essentially characterize human beings (such as rationality, formation of culture, freedom, personality and interpersonality). The text is primarily intended for bachelor students of philosophy.
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2. The Human Place in the Cosmos

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Max Scheler – the essence of man – sublimation – vital impetus – spirit

The fundamental text of philosophical anthropology is the text by the phenomenologist, Max Scheler (1874 – 1928) – The Human Place in the Cosmos (Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos, 1928). It may not be great in size, but it is a rich text. Therefore, we have decided to introduce Scheler at the beginning, as he well defines specific philosophical attempts at philosophical anthropology. The text was originally given as a lecture in 1927 in Darmstadt, reflecting on a special man’s standpoint in the world. He based his reflections on contemporary knowledge and discoveries of biological morphology and the research of animal behaviour and plant life. Scheler tried to grasp man holistically – by inquiring into his relation to nature and defining his special position in it.

Firstly, Scheler distinguished between two meanings of the word “human”: 1) human as a biological being with ← 25 | 26 → a fixed place in the natural animal life scheme (he is on the top of the range of vertebrates and mammals), and 2) human as a being with a seemingly peculiar and unique place in the world; this cannot be compared to the status of any other creatures. In this sense, Scheler assumes a specific essence of man (Scheler, 1968, p. 45).

Scheler draws attention to the fact that we have come to a stage in history, when there is no “unified idea of man” that would be accepted...

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