Eccentric Positionality: On Kant, Plessner, and Human Dignity. An Interview with J. M. Bernstein
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LINDEMANN: Probably in summer 2019 the English translation of Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch, that is The Levels of Organic and the Human, will be published with Fordham University Press. You have written a very knowledgeable foreword to the book and placed it within the English discussion on philosophical biology. How did you come across Plessner?
BERNSTEIN: The inside cover of my copy of Laughing and Cryingsays “September 17, 1980,” although I think I had read a library copy of it earlier. Why was I reading Plessner at that moment? I received my Ph.D. in 1975 from the University of Edinburgh. My dissertation was on Kant’s philosophy of science with special attention to his philosophy of biology; I interpreted the latter as a reluctant, ontologically agnostic, but epistemically insistent acknowledgement that living organisms could not be comprehended through mechanistic forms of explanation, and hence that the use of a teleological form of judgment was necessary for...