Fines Hominis Lecture Series: Andrea Kern, “All and Nothing. The Life and the ʻIʼ” (Potsdam, 14-15 July 2022)

We are glad to give notice of the Lecture All and Nothing. The Life and the “I”, held by Andrea Kern on July 14th-15th, 2022, at the University of Potsdam.


Some, though not all, people sometimes, perhaps always, use ethical terms like “justice” or “duty” when thinking about themselves and their peers. That we humans have such terms, the (neo-)Aristotelian argues, is not because we have practical reason. It is quite possible to imagine a form of life of I-thinkers who do not apply ethical concepts to themselves, but confine themselves to purely instrumental forms of practical thinking and reasoning. In the availability of ethical concepts lies rather, so the idea, the characteristic of a genuinely human life, which in it proves to be a fact of nature, which also could not have been. I will argue – with reference to Hegelian considerations – that this identification of the human form of life with an ethical form of life rests on a misunderstanding of what a self-conscious form of life is. The idea of a self-conscious form of life, whose subjects are I-thinkers, is not the idea of a genus, which can be realized in both ethical and non-ethical forms. The reason for this, however, is not that, according to Hegel, the idea of a non-ethical self-conscious life-form is incoherent, as Kant, for instance, thought he could show. Rather, the reason is that Hegel denies that the notion of a self-conscious life-form describes a potentiality that can be thought without thereby thinking itself through that notion. And that is, without thereby either bringing to bear a thinking in which one recognizes oneself through and in another human being, or bringing to bear a thinking that denies precisely this self-knowledge through and in another human being. According to such a disjunctive conception of a self-conscious form of life, the reality of a self-conscious form of life is at stake in every moment of thinking. This is the flip side of the Hegelian insight that the concept of the human being is not the concept of something finite, but of something “absolute”.


Below you can find the program.

July 14th, 2022, Am Neuen Palais, House 11, Room 0.09.

4.00-6.00 pm – Lecture
Followed by a Reception in Am Neuen Palais, House 11, Room 2.22


July 15th, 2022, Am Neuen Palais 10, House 09, Room 2:05.

10.00 am-1.00 pm – Workshop



If you would like to attend the workshop, please register by July 8, 2022 by writing to the email below. You will receive a link to the workshop materials after registration.


For further information, please visit the website of the Center for Post-Kantian Philosophy.

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