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Hans-Peter Krüger: Homo absconditus

Reviewed by Hannes Wendler, 2021-09-01

Cover Hans-Peter Krüger: Homo absconditus ISBN 978-3-11-066142-2

Hans-Peter Krüger: Homo Absconditus. Helmuth Plessners Philosophische Anthropologie im Vergleich. Walter de Gruyter (Berlin) 2019. 673 pages. ISBN 978-3-11-066142-2. D: 79,95 EUR, A: 79,95 EUR.
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There hardly is a scientific field as rife with plural and, in part, contradictory determinations of its primary object of investigation as anthropology. Are humans rational animals? Are they made in the image of God? Or are humans predatory apes that have gone megalomaniac by science and technology? During the last century, Helmuth Plessner put forward an alternative account of the essence of man that allowed his Philosophical Anthropology to investigate and evaluate the justification and explanatory reach of these manifold competing accounts of human nature: Man as homo absconditus, the hidden man. The idea being that the study of man must conceive of humans before the horizon of their possibilities and history. Only then can anthropology do justice to the various possibilities of the alterity of humans. Hans-Peter Krüger places this conception of man at the centre of his critical interpretation of Plessners Philosophical Anthropology. To develop his account, Krüger essentially carries out four steps, which correspond to the different parts of the book and can be structured along the lines of the vertical and horizontal axes inherent in the perspective of Philosophical Anthropology: 1) The vertical axis is concerned with the philosophy of nature. It investigates the quasi-transcendental structure of the human form of life: eccentric positionality. 2) The static-horizontal axis is that of social philosophy and the philosophy of culture. It conceives of man in the social world ('Mitwelt') as a doppelgänger that must adopt and act in roles. 3) The dynamical-horizontal axis develops the philosophy of history. It is here that the principle of inscrutability is derived for the determination of the essence of man. 4) The comparison of Philosophical Anthropology with other approaches to philosophy overarches both the vertical and the horizontal axes. Here, it is illustrated how Philosophical Anthropology fits into the historical and contemporary discursive field. Through these four steps Krüger systematically demonstrates that the rejection of constitutive determinations of the essence of man enables the creative potential of Philosophical Anthropology. Put differently, the inscrutability of man is not the end of anthropology, but the motor behind the productive force of Philosophical Anthropology: homo absconditus is a beginning.

Review by
Hannes Wendler
M.A. (Philosophie), B.Sc. (Psychologie)

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Hannes Wendler, 2021. Review of: Hans-Peter Krüger: Homo Absconditus. Helmuth Plessners Philosophische Anthropologie im Vergleich. Walter de Gruyter 2019. ISBN 978-3-11-066142-2. In: socialnet Reviews, 2021-09-01. ISSN 2190-9245. Retrieved 2022-06-26 from

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