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Landmann's dissertation in its original German is already ensconced as a standard reference, although in the United States (and France and England), where anthropology has a somewhat homelier aura, there will still be some difficulty identifying the field to which it refers. Philosophical Anthropology is one of the post-Husserlian splinters -- a dizzying mix and match of phenomenopsycho-anthro-philosophical hyphenated schools of thought -- and it arose first in the 1920's on more or less the same intellectual promptings as existentialism, which it briefly rivaled. Now, out of a comparable rational impasse, it rises again. It differs from existentialism and other phenomenologies in fine ways which Landmann combs scrupulously, along with distinctions among the sub-specialties that have proliferated within the field itself. Fortunately, two more general premises distinguish it from other forms of anthropology. First, taking anthropology in its broadest sense as man's search for a self-conception, it allows a signal, shaping importance to its own formulations: culturally speaking, and psychologically too, man tries, tends to fit his self-image. Second, embracing man and everything human as its focus, it assumes phenomenology's grandest claims: reconciliation of the inward and the outer, and, by inference at least, a proper holistic restoration of the essential human sphere. The impulse and the method are widely evident now and a number of disciplines seem to be quivering toward some such point of convergence. But it is a moot point whether Philosophical Anthropology will stake out the ground. Landmann traces it from its substantive origins with the Greeks down through its most niggling modern self-assertions in a strictly academic survey of high-philosophical or similarly accredited propositions, The argumentative appeals (Freud, Nietzsche) seem rather dated now; and there is a further difficulty in that the action and its object are one and the same, the medium, so to speak, is the message -- i.e., thought about man. While this is a necessary aspect of the method, it can be disorienting. Scholars, however, will know where they are, and this will admit admirably to conventional, general uses. Also of interest is the consideration given to Max Scheler, the founder, who is just beginning his emergence from the footnotes.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1974
Publisher: Westminster