Claudia Welz
University of Copenhagen
This article explores the ethical implications of the dialectics between the human being’s visibility and invisibility by means of a phenomenological approach: In what ways can ›human dignity‹ be experienced, and to what extent does it, as a normative notion, transcend its possible givenness to experience? While there is a consensus that the requirement of respect is implied in this notion, it is controversial how this requirement is realized and fulfilled. Kierkegaard’s ethics of loving vision and Sartre’s description of the objectifying gaze inform a discussion of the feeling of shame: can it protect the dignity of the other person? The following three levels of argumentation will be taken into account: An exchange of glances denoting reciprocal recognition can, on the level of factuality, count as the condition for the subjective constitution of human dignity insofar as it can be experienced in actual contexts of interaction. In a legal context, the constitutional principle of all people’s invisible, inviolable dignity, which is the source of their rights and deserves protection regardless of people’s characteristics and behavior, must be defended against the idea that human dignity is nothing but a contingent, self-posited norm or gradual attribute. The theological dimension of human dignity is considered in regard to its non-empirical ground and destination and to the question of whether human dignity persists post mortem.
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DOI 10.14315/zee-2014-58-1-21
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