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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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4. Culture

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culture – act – creativity – mediated immediacy – technology

We have mentioned that in his Essay on Man, Ernst Cassirer considers the symbolic rational activity of a person to be the very essence of humanity (understood functionally, not substantially). This author understands his philosophy of symbolic forms not just as an epistemology, or as he says, “anthropological philosophy” or a “philosophy of man”, but also as a “philosophy of culture.” Man could have evolved in a specifically human way and his or her world could have acquired a specific human form, when he or she “managed” to abstract meaning and understand the sense of “symbol,” i.e. when we started to use articulated speech and develop conceptual thinking – as Cassirer demonstrated, for example, through the well-known story of Helen Keller. He believes that a human being can be successfully comprehended in his or her specificity only through this ← 51 | 52 → symbolic “functions” (and if the “essence” of man should be mentioned, in this sense only). This specific cognitive functions are visible in the specific accomplishments of human activities, which we can call “culture”: language, myth, religion, morals, law, science, i.e. all specifically human creations forming our uniquely human cultural world (Cassirer, 1977, p. 140). It is no coincidence that culture has become the focal point of interest of various anthropological inquiries.

Even the philosophers of modern philosophical anthropology have dealt with the phenomenon of culture seriously – as trying to grasp the specificity of man through our differentiation between...

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