The Mystery of Being first: 2011-10-12
last: 2011-11-09

The title of this section is taken from the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel. The view on human-being is, more than in most other sections of philosophy, strongly  culture related. In the first chapter of  The Mystery of Being Marcel put the question: How man became a question on his own. His answer is that this question is only quite recent, it only came up short before 1900. Before that time philosophers questioned human beings from within a framework of religious of a predefined world view, like the Stoa with their view that men is an element in an total ongoing whole. Such frameworks disappeared. Kant defined the human rationality as the reference framework, and still tried to match that with a concept of God. But then Nietzsche reject God and the human rationality as the reference framework. After 1900 religion an the notion of God became  minor subjects of philosophy rather than the reference framework. 

In the same timeframe, with his concept of the strong unconscious processes Freud undermined the concept of humans as one, if not rational then still consistent creature. Although his psycho-analyses methods today are generally rejected, his observations certainly had a significant impact and questioned again the basic hum concept.

Even before Nietzsche's attack on existing frameworks, and Freud's concept of the unconscious,  Darwin introduced his evolutionary view, although not a philosophical  view, it certainly reduced the believe in human superiority.

Finally Marx reduced man to just a social economical factor, subject to macro economic and social processes.

With  Darwin`s, Nietzsche`s, Freud`s and Marx`s view on mankind, not much framework or even room of a framework was left.

In continental philosophy we see two, almost extreme, positions coming up. Namely  Existentialism and then partly as reaction upon this Structuralism. The strong emphasis of existentialism at the continent can be seen as a reaction on the still strong historical social structures.

In North America the (complete) lack of historical social structures lead to a philosophical reflexion with more attention for a base of ethics and social structures in pragmatism.

Philosophygarden        of Hans Tromp