Der eigene Tod und das menschliche Miteinander – gelingende Sterbebegleitung vor dem Hintergrund der philosophischen Anthropologie Helmuth Plessners


  • Helena Hock Hochschule für Philosophie, München



philosophical anthropology, Plessner, succeeding end-of-life care, dying


This paper aims to show to which extent Helmuth Plessner’s philosophical anthropology proves beneficial for the topical issue of succeeding care for dying people. Modern western end-of-life care has been shaped by the hospice movement under Cicely Saunders. Its ideals were the openness to conversations about dying and the recognition of the individuality of the dying person. In a socio-cultural context that focuses on the idea of man as an autonomous, consciously acting subject, these ideals tend to be projected on the dying person and thereby may turn into problematic normative guidelines about a proper way to die. In contrast, referring to Helmuth Plessner’s conception of the human being, a right way of human dying is not predefined yet without denying the possibility of a succeeding end-of-life care. As beings with ‘exzentrischer Positionalität’, humans are essentially characterised by their uncertain position that eludes any determining definitions. Self-awareness and the capability for reflection are merely a possibility for human beings and never a certainty. Furthermore, the human being features both an actively acting and a passively experiencing side – also with respect to how he or she succeedingly deals with his or her own dying. With Plessner’s concept of the ‘Mitwelt’ in mind, the task of end-of-life care is to take on functions for the dying person in solidarity with him or her and at the same time to recognise his or her otherness.