(2019) Human Studies 42 (1).

How is the human life-form of mind really possible in nature?

parallels between John Dewey and Helmuth Plessner

Hans-Peter Krüger

pp. 47-64

J. Dewey and H. Plessner both and independently of one another treated the central question of what new task philosophy must set itself if the assumption is correct that the life-form of mind, i.e., the mental life-form of humans, arose in nature and must also sustain itself in the future within nature. If nature has to reconceived so as to make the irreducible qualities of life and mind truly possible, then it can no longer be restricted to the role of physical material. Conversely humans cannot no longer take on the role of God outside and independent of nature. Instead these philosophers distinguish between three "plateaus' (Dewey) or 'stages' (Plessner), between physical (inorganic) nature, psycho-physical (living) nature and the nature that is mental life. This distinction is drawn such that a connection between the plateaus is truly possible. The third level, that of the mental form of life, answers mentally within conduct to the break with the first two levels. Hence it depends in the future as well on the continuously renewed difference (between the precarious and the stable for Dewey, between immediacy and mediation for Plessner) in our experience of nature. Within this difference nature as a whole remains an open unknown, which is why we can credit Dewey with a philosophy of diversified and negative holism, Plessner with a differential philosophy of the negativity of the absolute.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s10746-017-9429-5

Full citation:

Krüger, H.-P. (2019). How is the human life-form of mind really possible in nature?: parallels between John Dewey and Helmuth Plessner. Human Studies 42 (1), pp. 47-64.

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