Researcher: Kasper Lysemose
Human beings must respond to their being in order to be at all. This means that by responding human beings are always performing an act of self-preservation. The term ‘self-preservation’ has strong naturalistic connotations. It seems to imply ideas like ‘survival of the fittest’ and egotistic behaviour. The concept of human self-preservation, as suggested here, is of a different kind. This may be illustrated with a human child learning to walk. Clearly vertical existence is something achieved and to be maintained. Homo erectus would immediately cease to be if it did not perform a conservatio continua. Self-preservation is the ground of its being. As Husserl puts it in a condensed formulation: ”Ich bin nicht erst und erhalte mich hinterher, Sein ist Selbsterhaltung”. Taking this as a clue to an anthropological concept of self-preservation implies that human beings do not have a being, which they henceforth seek to defend by all means necessary. Rather, human self-preservation means that the being in question must be acquired through self-preservation.
The concept of self-preservation played a major role in German philosophy in the mid 1970s, being declared a founding principle of modernity and subjectivity by Blumenberg and Henrich. Nevertheless, the concept was soon abandoned. Henrich did not apply it in his theory of subjectivity and Blumenberg ventured into comprehensive historical studies. The posthumously published phenomenological anthropology of the latter, however, hints at self-preservation as an anthropological principle. Sub-project 3 is animated by this hint, seeking to develop it into a full systematic account. This means differentiating the implications of self-preservation and integrating them into a philosophical anthropology of responsiveness. In order to do so, sub-project 3 will in particular have to account for: