Man as a responsible agent
Traditional philosophy believed that it could detach itself from the human world and from this vantage point arrive at a purely objective view of all things as they really are in themselves, including man. Hence in this mode of thought, philosophical anthropology, the study of human existence not in one of its special economic, sociological, or psychological aspects but in its entirety, was relegated to a very subordinate position. The object, man, occupied an intermediate position in the great cosmic hierarchy somewhere between the animals and the angels, and was duly described and analyzed, when the time came, in a section or treatise of proper length that was never of central importance. In the twentieth century, however, philosophy has undergone an epoch-making revolution which has introduced a basic change in the situation. Living thinkers have become more critical and self-conscious. They doubt their capacity to jump outside themselves and the world in which they exist to gain a worldless position from which they can gaze at all things from an objective point of view. They believe that if they are to understand the human world, they must understand it as it is lived from the inside, and they believe, furthermore, that such an understanding is required as an essential prolegomenon for the disciplined study of any other basic issue whatever it may be. Hence philosophical anthropology has now become a matter of central interest, and many studies, especially those called phenomenological, have shed a new light on human existence as it is lived in the concrete. In this paper, I shall try to suggest the new conception of man which is emerging from these concrete studies, and then to show how they shed a new light on the phenomenon of human responsibility. This conception of responsibility, now being developed, differs sharply from traditional conceptions, and an examination of it should have some interest not only for philosophers, but for counsellors and therapists as well.
Wild, J. (1966)., Man as a responsible agent, in W. Baeyer & R. M. Griffith (eds.), Conditio humana, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 319-333.
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