Nature, freedom, and persons. Spaemann's philosophy of <i>Selbstsein</i>

Holger Zaborowski

in Robert Spaemann's Philosophy of the Human Person

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199576777
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722295 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Nature, freedom, and persons. Spaemann's philosophy of Selbstsein

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This chapter presents an explicit discussion of contemporary philosophy. Post-structuralist and analytical philosophy have shown an interesting convergence with respect to the notion of personal identity. While poststructuralist philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault speak of the ‘death of the subject’, more or less ironically, philosophers of the post-Humean and post-Lockean analytic tradition such as Derek Parfit deny that a person is fully identical with himself over the course of his life time, that all human beings are persons, and that ‘person’ is a fundamental notion in the first place. The chapter assesses these tendencies in light of Spaemann's philosophy, in which he defends a person-centred view of reality and, moreover, provides philosophical arguments for the traditional and, as he argues, self-evident view not only that all human beings are persons, but also that there is such a phenomenon as personal identity and that philosophies that do not consider the fundamental and paradigmatic character of the person inevitably contradict themselves and undermine their own truth claims. The chapter is also concerned with Spaemann's ontology, ethics, and philosophy of religion as outlined in Persons and in Happiness and Benevolence. In reassessing the fundamental character of the person, it is argued that Spaemann bridges the gap between freedom and nature. The modern dualism of, and dialectic between, spirit and nature, his argument runs, can be overcome because persons are not simply imprisoned minds or souls, nor are they mere matter. Discussing Spaemann's attempt to develop a new person-centred account of reality as opened up in the act of love, which he considers ‘the disclosure of reality that is completely adequate to reality’, may also show how the single features of Spaemann's thought belong coherently together.

Keywords: Robert Spaemann; contemporary philosophy; crisis; Selbstsein; dialectic; modernity

Chapter.  25288 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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