Forme e figurazioni in Helmuth Plessner

Dalla comprensione della vita alla questione della responsabilità


  • Claudia Nigrelli Università di Bologna



life, morphology, Grenze, eccentric positionality, open form


The article proposes a reading of Helmuth Plessner’s philosophical anthropology through the lens of morphology. Form, understood as a combination of static form and dynamic processes of figuration, is first of all linked to the question concerning life. At a time when life was once again central to the intellectual and scientific environment of the 20th century, divided between empiricism and apriorism, Goethe’s morphology allowed Plessner to overcome this opposition and find a unique point of view to look at the human being as both a natural and cultural being. Subsequently, the question of form is analysed in relation to the organic (Buytendijk) and to the behaviour of living beings (Buytendijk and Plessner). The concept of Grenze is then fundamental to understand how the tension between forms and figurations allows Plessner to describe the functioning of life and the emergence of the human form of life, depicted in terms of an ‘open’ form that is self-delimiting, that is, that artificially realises its own nature in a plastic way. Form thus becomes in human beings a responsibility to be realised between nature and culture, between necessity and freedom to create an infinity of expressive and cultural forms that are always different because they are contingent and historical.