European Research Project 2015

Human Being
A Keystone for a New Order of Solidarity

Purpose and Aims of the Research Project

Today it is appropriate to speak at all of Human being as a question that in different ways has been debated since antiquity and  has deeply affected Western philosophy and has been a theme of great interest, a  particular focus of research both historical and contemporary, to historians and philosophers.

      A distinguished network of scholars with a high reputation for work in the field of anthropological philosophy, who have already published extensively on aspects of this debate will explore this theme  in the outworking of evolutionary processes.

       It seems important to re-open the debate for two, although not exclusively, reasons:

  1. The first one is that the contemporary debate has been massively limited to an analytical point of view and that the richness and subtlety of non causalist interpretations, belonging to other traditions, have been unduly ignored.
  2. The second one is that the reductionist perspective is currently facing important  difficulties.
  3. The idea to be worked out is that this renewed confrontation with other traditions should substantially contribute to the job.

       After a preliminary introduction, the initial step will consist in the attempt to set up the context of the anthropological discourse.


  1.  Contemporary philosophical anthropology 

    ContemporaryThe Conference will discuss the New Research Pilot Project on “Human nature: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives”, mapping the context, the background, the latest trends and evolutions in Italy and Europe, and the delivery of headline targets at the national and international level. philosophical anthropology takes its point of departure from two opposing conceptions: that attributed to Max Scheler (1874-1928) and that of Helmut Plessner (1892- 1985). With Scheler and Plessner the anthropological discourse take into account the challenges emerging from the sciences as well as from the humanities and the religion.

    According to Max Scheler, philosophical anthropology is nothing but the quintessence of philosophy itself. According to Plessner it follows the methodology and achievements of the empirical sciences of Human Being in the form of an ‘integrative’ discipline.

    Scheler, who lectured in Goettingen from 1910 to 1911, where Edith Stein was one of his students,  hearkens back to the traditional determination of Human Being as loving being. In his major works he criticizes the point of view of Husserl, Kant and German Idealism, focuses on human feelings and considers the love to be the essence of the nature of man. Scheler defines the logic of love as different from the logic of pure reason, following the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, an author “very dear to Maurice Blondel, both as an example and an inspiration”. Starting from Pascal “Blondel was drawing out the express tendencies of Pascal’s thought in a more systematic or, as he says, a more technical way than Pascal had left his thoughts”.


    Plessner refused the Christian metaphysics of Scheler and embraced the orientation of biological, medical, psychological, and, in the extended sense, social-scientific research, and he does this with the conceptual goal of a structural theory of Human being.


  2. World-openness 

    Common to both thinkers in the characterisation of Human Being is the concept of world-openness. According to Scheler Human Being is the “X that can behave in a world-open manner in an unlimited extent”. According to Plessner, Human being is “characterised by an ‘ex-centric positionality’, whereby his existence, that possesses no fixed centre, is described as the unity of mediated immediacy and natural artificiality. In other words, Plessner means that  the nature of human beings, from the very beginning, is an artificial one, i. e. is too plastic if compared with that of other living beings and insofar its conduct needs to be fixed in an artificial way.

    This opens up a broad horizon of possible interpretations of Human Being, and to this extent a broad discussion for an answer to the question what a human being is. These two different approaches will be the starting point and the crucial stimulus of the overall project.


  3. Openness of Human Development 

        The concept of World –Openness embraces and includes the aspect of the Openness of Human Development. The Conference will discuss the New Research Pilot Project on “Human nature: Philosophical, Theological and Scientific Perspectives”, mapping the context, the background, the latest trends and evolutions in Italy and Europe, and the delivery of headline targets at the national and international level. And so we will take into account and analyze  the theoretical sense and importance of the openness that affects all phases of human development, both from an ontogenetic and from a phylogenetic point of view.  The central meaning or essence of the human being is “a loving act of participation by the core of the human being in the essence of all things”; and so it is an inexhaustible loving willingness to be open to the world, to that which is other, a going beyond oneself, directed to the transcendence, to the infinite. There is a deply, hidden in human being, order of love, a capacity which begins with the rank of sensible values and tends toward to the realization of an higher value and, at the end, of the value of the holy. In our technological era this point of view appears to be a pioneering work, full of suggestions. It is an attempt to save from any reductive idea of human being as tool-maker or as a mere object the absolute value of the human being.


    This standpoint has incalculable ethical and social values. It assumes that there is a process of realization that needs and is associated at the very beginning with  realizing factors: historical, economics, politicals, socials. The human being is conceived as a “member of a totality”; his experience is always an “experiencing with one other” connected to the responsibility for others, the corresponsability for community. It means that  the  acts of human beings are fulfilled with reference to a community, are acts of a member of a community. We belong to a community with the other, in which there is a sense of solidarity or “representable solidarity” and anyone can represents and has to take responsibility for the others.


    Furthermore it is a foundation of the modern anthropology, that the current reductionist approach has largely ignored or rejected; and involves crucial aspects already well delineated and discussed in the twentieth century by several main figures (Maurice Blondel, Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Jonas), who explicitly took into account the modern scientific approach, especially with regard to the place of the human being in the cosmos.


   Today, the philosophy of human openness is being given concrete shape.  There are two reasons why this is so.  The first is the biological science of evolution and its application to human origins.  Recent discoveries, fueled by advanced analysis of archaeological remains and of archaic DNA, create an entirely new view of the complex origins of the human species.  Throughout this process, technology plays a pivotal role.  Advances in simple technologies led to better nutrition, nuclear families, extended childhood and adolescence, and dramatic increases in cognitive ability and cultural capacity.  The second reason why human openness is taking concrete shape is because of the accelerating pace of technological advance.  Today’s technologies have advanced and converged in unexpected ways, setting the stage for a whole new era in human and cosmic evolution.  Through human technology, the cosmos can act upon itself in unprecedented ways.  The question of human openness is no longer merely a speculative question but one with tangible consequences for the future of humanity and of the cosmos. The question turns to the role of technology as a distinctly human contribution.  How does technology—that of today and tomorrow—equip human beings to play a pivotal role in contributing to the cosmic future?

  1. Outocomes

     The most outstanding members of the network are well known scholars of international high reputation such as  card. Walter Kasper, Francisco Baralle, Wilhelm Vossenkuhl,  Eberhard Schockenhoff, Ronald Cole- Turner, Angela Ales Bello, Francisco Baralle, Jan M. Broekman,  William Carroll, GeorgesDagher, Charles Dinarello, Niels Henrik Gregersen, Wolfahrt Henckmann, Jürgen Mittelstraß,  Philippe Nemo,  Marijan Šunjićwhose research on anthropological themes will arise further  and more broadly discussions to foster the Human beingresearch project.

   The outcomes of such activities, given the background and research skills involved, will ensure further support to more specific research projects on Human being. The papers will be published and circulated for further consideration and responsive contributions will prove attractive to those concerned with a more comprehensive examination of human nature.


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