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Menneskets magt og afmagt. En udfoldelse af menneskesynet i K.E. Løgstrups publicerede og upublicerede forfatterskab

Carlsbergfondets postdoc-stipendier i Danmark


The project focuses on supplying the first comprehensive study of Løgstrup's existential anthropology, drawing on his posthumous manuscripts. In his analyses into human existence, we find a highly original understanding of human nature and the dynamics of interpersonal existence. A key issue in Løgstrup's conception is that human beings are, in a fundamental sense, powerless when it comes to enabling our own lives to flourish. This means that we cannot make ourselves happy, and at the same time it carries the implication that if we do not acknowledge this fundamental human impotence, it will inevitably lead to self-reproach and other forms of negative self-encircling attention. Here, Løgstrup can become a new and significant voice in today's debates on culture, society, and human nature.


The project is important because it involves a different approach to understanding the human being and its place in contemporary society and sociality. The project addresses the problems that prevail throughout modern culture, but this is done by speaking out against our cultural understanding of who we are, what we should do, and what lies within our power. Drawing on Løgstrup's existential anthropology, the project opposes the dominant international conceptions and theories of the human being, which constitute our current philosophical anthropology.


The research project will be conducted mainly at the K. E. Løgstrup Research Centre at Aarhus University, where Løgstrup's posthumous manuscripts are available as an important new source for research into Løgstrup's thought. This part of the project will lead to publication of selected papers and a record of the material. In addition, a significant part of the project will take place as visiting researcher at the University of Sheffield. Most importantly, this visit will involve working on a critical edition and translation of four of Løgstrup's main works with research-based notes and introductions written by leading international Løgstrup scholars. Finally, the project will involve visits to important research institutions in Brussels and Beijing.


The project addresses the alarming prevalence of depressions, anxiety and the perpetual search for 'the right way to live', which seems to dominate modern western societies. Here, Løgstrup's eye for the crucial importance that the other person and our surroundings have in our existence feature as the main corrective to our tendency to focus on the individual and hence to over-emphasize our own self-reliance and sovereignty, which overburdens the present day human being, as can be seen in many of today's buzz phrases such as e.g. 'taking charge of one's own life', telling children that they themselves are 'responsible for their own learning', that the employee must 'welcome and accept change at all times', and the idea that we must 'work on our own self-realization and improvement'.