Between Openness and Closure: Helmuth Plessner and the Boundaries of Social Life

Alexander Dobeson*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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This article introduces the basic notions of the widely neglected Philosophical Anthropology of Helmuth Plessner. Instead of defining man as a privileged holder of consciousness, Plessner claims that all living organisms can be defined by their specific relation to their physical boundaries. In contrast to other living organisms such as plants and animals, however, the ‘eccentric’ nature of man allows for a comparatively high degree of freedom from the physical environment, which enables him to transcend, objectify, and deconstruct the boundaries of the same. The article concludes by outlining Plessner’s original contribution to contemporary debates in social theory, in particular constructivism and post-humanist studies.
TidsskriftJournal of Classical Sociology
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)36-54
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2018
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Boundaries
  • Constructivism
  • Deconstructivism
  • Philosophical anthropology
  • Post-humanism