Staunen-Lernen angesichts der menschlichen Würde

Helmuth Plessners transformatives Philosophieren


  • Olivia Mitscherlich-Schönherr



phenomenology, experience, appearance, double aspect, philosophical therapy


In my essay, I advocate a phenomenological-therapeutic reading of Helmuth Plessner’s major work Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch. I interpret Die Stufen as a text that does not present universal theories, but opens up a philosophical learning process: no universal theories about the nature of physical things, living things, plants, animals, and humans, but a process in which the experience of these same ‘double-aspect’ entities is transformed. Plessner initiates this transformation process with the means of phenomenological epoché and reduction: by reflecting and criticizing in several stages socio-cultural ‘sediments’ that permeate and limit the experience of these ‘double-aspect’ entities. This process of transformation gains philosophical relevance through its orientation to interpersonal experience that human persons have of persons. In orientation to interpersonal experience, Plessner conceives a transformation process that becomes a genuinely philosophical learning process in the tension of historical bond and truth reference: a process by which the experience of person is not only changed, but perfected. This learning process gains practical-existential significance, since in its course one learns to experience persons in their dignity and to astonish at human dignity.