Der Mensch – Von Prometheus bis Sartre: ein philosophischer Parcours

Michael P. Schmude (Görres-Gymnasium, Koblenz)


Is Man a “lacking being” or the crown of the creation? Is he settled between the Golden Age and the Deluge, between a Prometheus, who creates independently, and a plaything at the mercy of Gods… Is he forced to found communities due to the inadequacies of the single person or is he inclined to do that as Zon politikón? This question has been discussed since the classical antiquity (Platon, Aristoteles, Cicero) and remains open through the history of philosophy up to present times. This article offers an historical path which starts from pre-Socratic Greek philosophy (Protagoras), passes through 17th century English philosophers like Hobbes and Locke, considers then the reflections offered by Enlightenment thinkers like Montesquieu and Rousseau and arrives to German and Austrian modern and contemporary philosophers (Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Gehlen). Finally, we see that the question on the responsibility of man in the arrangement of his own characteristics as well as of his own life – which arises in 15th century Italian Humanism (Pico della Mirandola) – is answered clearly and consistently in 20th century by Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism: “man is nothing else but what he makes of himself”, thus he is condemned to freedom in responsibility.

DOI: 10.4424/lam22013-4


Prometheus; Man; Ancient philosophy; Attic tragedy; Humanism; Modern philosophy; Political philosophy; Existentialism.

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