Responsive self-preservation: Towards an anthropological concept of responsiveness


The aim of this paper is to catch up with a conjecture designated by the term ‘responsive self-preservation’. This term appears neither strikingly beautiful nor intuitively understandable. Obviously it is a convoluted terminus technicus in need of conceptual clarification. The reasons for introducing it should therefore be good. That this is the case cannot be guaranteed from the outset. What can be offered here is a substitution of good reasons with high ambitions: the concept of ‘responsive self-preservation’ is designed to illuminate the conditio humana. In all brevity the claim is that human beings are responsive beings. This means that they do not just exist. In order to do so, they must respond to their existence. On the one hand the inner drive and utmost aspiration in human responsiveness therefore lies in self-preservation. On the other hand self-preservation is thoroughly transformed when embedded into human responsiveness. The article will thus use the concept of responsiveness and the concept of self-preservation to mutually clarify each other – in order to open the possibilities and avoid the pitfalls in each of them. In doing so, it aspires to intervene in contemporary philosophical anthropology.

Keywords: Self-preservation, responsiveness, philosophical anthropology, ethics, Waldenfels

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