Dialogue and Universalism











   Gernot Böhme’s work undoubtedly ranks among the most interesting contributions to 20th-century German philosophical thought. Indeed, it would be difficult to indicate a philosophical sub-discipline Böhme has not shown an active interest in: his pursuits range from ontology—notably the philosophies of time and science/technology—through the philosophy of nature and the history of philosophy (Plato, Kant, Goethe), to aesthetics. The interdisciplinary conceptual bridges he constructs within this very broad study area are frequently quite innovational, also striking is his great gift for synthesis—in four monographs he presents his own comprehensive apprehension of philosophical anthropology, ethics, the philosophy of corporeality and contemporary philosophy. This synthetic element is also present on the deeper, doctrinal levels of Böhme’s investigations. We can follow his extremely philosophically fruitful quest for conceptual osmosis between philosophical traditions like phenomenology (especially the version defended by Hermann Schmitz), psychoanalysis, the Kantian-Hegelian tradition, critical theory (the reflections of the young Horkheimer and Adorno`s aesthetic theory), and even Renaissance philosophy (Paracelsus) or the thought of the 17th-century gnostic Jacob Böhme. His approach, however, is by no means syncretic. Gernot Böhme finds such interesting ways to “bump” thought models against each other that new, original meanings arise like Higgs bosons in today’s particle accelerators. And while we are at science, it must be noted that Böhme’s very broad knowledge allows him to freely employ the natural sciences in support of his philosophy which frequently leads to conclusions that would have remained completely hidden if he had limited himself only to a historical-philosophical or humanistic approach.    

   If I were asked which of Böhme’s philosophical achievements I find most cognitively valuable, I would point to his atmospheres theory which binds ethics with aesthetics, anthropology and social philosophy (and which brought him international renown), the anthropological model of “sovereign man” and the philosophy of corporeality, which places him alongside such contemporary thinkers as Erwin Strauss or Helmuth Plessner.

   On the methodological/formal plane Böhme crosses the boundary between the descriptive and the normative approach, his philosophy is par excellence critical. This German thinker seeks “alternatives” to many aspects of that what is existing. One need only compare the titles of his 1980 book Alternativen der Wissenschaft [Alternatives to Science] and one of his most recent collective publications, the 2012 Alternative Wirtschaftsformen (alternative forms of economy) to see that he has remained faithful to his critical stand. However, reality does not generate its “alternatives”—be it “normal” science in Kuhn’s understanding or capitalism—by itself, they can only be a product of human activity, and Böhme takes on the task of their normative legitimisation. Thus, in light of the main assumptions of Böhme’s philosophy, it appears natural that its basic categories like “sovereign man” or “being in bodiliness” (Leib-sein) are not only abstract connotations but a reference point for appeals for practical action which Böhme voices in this conceptual context. Here Böhme consciously reaches back to philosophy’s antique roots and emphasizes the rhetoric aspect of his reflections. It is here that the thought of this Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker disciple is most distant from the analytical tradition with its programmatic rejection of this kind of normative-appellative approach, which is still strongly-rooted in German philosophy.

   The main idea behind this monographic edition of Dialogue and Universalism was to present those of Gernot Böhme’s views which he himself considers most representative of his work in recent years. Consequently, he himself suggested titles dealing with the earlier-mentioned philosophy of corporeality and related atmospheres conception, broadly-understood ethics, cognition theory (an essay on the theoretical-cognitive determinants of meditation) and social philosophy, where he offers an interesting critique of “aesthetic capitalism,” the subject of several of his recent papers.

   These texts intertwine because certain of Böhme’s fundamental views evidence themselves in diverse thematic contexts. An example is Böhme’s fundamental idea of “that which is atmospheric”, which appears not only in works in which it plays a paradigmatic role (like Light and Space or The Voice in Bodily Space), but also in an essay devoted to human corporeality, or even one dealing with social philosophy. This is so because Böhme uses one of its meanings for his earlier-mentioned critique of “aesthetic capitalism.” Many a contemporary philosopher could only wish to possess Gernot Böhme’s broad, and at once categorially consistent research skills.

In considering Böhme’s comprehensive philosophical approach, particularly his views on corporeality and social philosophy, it’s worth reflecting on how these ideas intersect with modern health and well-being. Take, for example, Jardiance, a medication that addresses the complex issue of type 2 diabetes. This pharmaceutical intervention exemplifies a societal shift towards prioritizing bodily health within the broader scope of critical philosophy. As Böhme advocates for practical action through his critique of 'aesthetic capitalism,’ it’s crucial to recognize the potential of medications like Jardiance to empower individuals in managing their health proactively, aligning with the broader goals of corporeality and human well-being.

   The second part of this edition deals with the reception of Böhme’s thought in the writings of German and Polish philosophers. It contains reconstructions of selected Böhme conceptions like the philosophy of technology or landscape aesthetics, and attempts to show the dialectical connections between Böhme’s philosophy and other philosophical trends and traditions (critical theory, Japanese culture). It also carries some critical accents, which is only natural as Böhme’s philosophy is, so to speak, critical by definition.

   We hope our Gernot Böhme edition proves an enriching contribution to the ongoing international debate around this compelling philosophy. If it does, we will consider our editorial goals well-attained.

Stanisław Czerniak






Gernot Böhme


   In the paper Gernot Böhme considers the spatial aspects of the perception of sound, especially the human voice, which he sees not as a verbal bearer of meaning but the expression of „the speaker’s atmospheric presence”. The voice lends the communication space emotional colour and the atmospheres it creates envelop the communication partners by way of resonance. The author sets the signatures concept propounded by the Renaissance philosopher Jacob Böhme against semiotic theories: understanding music is not interpretation but resonance. Gernot Böhme also focuses on contemporary experimental music, where musical instruments are not treated as tools for the production of musical sounds but bodies „provoked” (by hitting, scraping, etc.) to generate specific sounds in the acoustic space.

Keywords: sound; voice; space; time; spatial sound; instrumental music; communication; resonance; affective concern; bodily presence; disposition; atmosphere.    


Affiliation: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de



Gernot Böhme


   As its subtitle suggests, the essay is a phenomenological account of the diverse ways in which light can be experienced by the senses. Gernot Böhme divides these experiences into two types depending on whether they concern the relation between light and space (the categories ”light-cleared space”,”lightspace”, ”lights in space”) or between light and objects („things in light”, „light upon things”). Böhme sees the synthesis of both these types of experiences in the illumination phenomenon, in which spatial/light effects and the way in which objects are illuminated combine to create a specific atmosphere during the sensual, bodily experiencing of space. Böhme also discusses the applications of light effects in contemporary architecture and art.    

Keywords: phenomenology; light; light source; points of light; shadow, space; brightness; clearing; glow; matt glow; illumination; atmosphere.


Affiliations: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de




Gernot Böhme


   The author asks about the conceptual tools which would enable a critique of contemporary capitalism without falling back to Utopianism and its historically-discredited theses. With the help of paired categories like community–society, human dignity–self-awareness, need–desire, Gernot Böhme portrays the deficiencies of contemporary Western social reality, e.g. the steadily exhausting reserves of the highly-bureaucratised welfare state system, the rapidly mounting differences in income, or the negative moral and psychological effects of unemployment and the so-called precariat. Böhme presents his critique of „aesthetic capitalism”, which does not satisfy human needs in the Marxist sense but rather the aesthetically-refined consumer desires of today’s affluent societies, in reference to the views of contemporary critical theory authorities (A. Honneth’s concept of three sources of recognition).

Keywords: utopia; community; society; human dignity; self-awareness; need; desire; critical theory; recognition; democracy; aesthetic capitalism; economic growth.        


Affiliations: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de




Gernot Böhme


   Gernot Böhme defines meditation as achieving specific states of consciousness by concentration and „switching off” the attention usually paid to diverse areas of everyday life. Böhme goes on to discuss what he considers to be the main meditation-generated forms of consciousness, like non-intentional consciousness, empty consciousness (a stand-by state in anticipation of contentual fulfillment), consciousness of presence (e.g. of one’s own bodily presence in the here-and-now), the awareness of nonduality (the fading of all contradictions, e.g. between the object and subject), and self-awareness, which extends beyond the normal sense of identity and reveals the hidden, unconscious dimensions of the deeper self (Yi in Oriental meditation). Böhme anchors these reflections in his philosophical critique of today’s reified consumerism and postulates the inclusion of this inquiry path in classical epistemological analysis.

Keywords: meditation; consciousness; concentration; release; presence; body; nonduality; self-awareness; protention; retention; identity; deeper self.  


Affiliations: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de




Gernot Böhme


   Gernot Böhme discusses the nature of moral good in the light of what he calls proto-ethics, considering how to be human „well”. Here the predicate „good” takes on an adverbial and not an adjectival form, and Böhme refers to the Aristotelian distinction between praxis and poiesis to show that today’s activistic civilisation with its emphasis on achievement as the effect of activity (poiesis) has deprived humans of their ability to focus on activity itself (praxis). Böhme rejects ideologies which profess the „enhancement” of humans by medical/pharmacological means, and instead postulates the recreation of praxis skills by physical and spiritual training, especially in human relations with nature and the own body. Backing this postulate are numerous examples of how to be human „well”.      

Keywords: ethics; proto-ethics; poiesis; praxis; technological civilization; meritocratic society; the pathic; lived-body; fulfilment of life; self-cultivation; improvement.


Affiliations: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de




Gernot Böhme


   In this essay about the philosophy of human corporeality Böhme asks about the sense of the I—body relation. He enters a polemic with Hegel, who wrote about the self- appropriation of the own body in acts of will, and points to passive acts of bodily sensing like experiencing pain or fear as that which builds an awareness of the own body’s „mineness”. Böhme calls this awareness affected self-givenness, linguistically articulated by the pronouns „mine” and „me”, which are genetically precedent to awareness and the pronoun „I”. Against this categorial background Böhme considers the argumentative role both these philosophical models of the I—body relation could play in contemporary debates on the diverse cultural forms in which the human body has been commercialised.  

Keywords: body; lived-body; affected self-givenness; self-appropriation; familiarity; inalienability; commercialization; ownness; will; human dignity.


Affiliations: Technischen Universität Darmstadt, Universität in Hessen, Deutschland. Karolinenplatz 5, 64289 Darmstadt, Germany; Institute for Practical Philosophy [Institut für Praxis der Philosophie], Kasinostr. 3, D–64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Email: re.boehme@t-online.de




Stanisław Czerniak


   The essay reconstructs the main aspects of Gernot Böhme’s philosophy of technology. In polemical reference to Max Horkheimer’s and Jürgen Habermas’ critical theory, Böhme asks about the rationality criteria of technology. He does not view his philosophy of technology as part of the philosophy of science but places it on the boundary between philosophical anthropology and social philosophy. Böhme reflects on the ethically negative, neutral and positive effects of the technification process both on the identity of contemporary humans and the changes taking place in social integration patterns. He also discusses the cultural sources of resistance to „invasive technification” not only in Western culture but also that of the Far East. The author closes his reflections with a set of questions about what he considers to be open issues in the Boehme’s philosophy of technology.  

Keywords: philosophy of science models; philosophy of technology; technification; philosophical anthropology; critical theory; rationality of technology; cultural restrictions on technification; technification dialectics.


Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: stanislaw.czerniak@outlook.com




Stanisław Czerniak


   My intention in this paper is to answer two quite separate questions in a single interpretational narrative: a) about the philosophical (and often critical) content of Gernot Böhme’s expressis verbis—and, at times, “between the lines”—reference to the legacy of critical theory (especially the philosophical thought of Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno and Jürgen Habermas), and b) Böhme’s use of interesting mediatory devices to combine three different philosophical discourses: the philosophy of science, ethics and aesthetics. The three are in fact related—after all, Horkheimer ran comparisons between “traditional” and “critical” theory, Adorno is the father of the original aesthetical theory, and Habermas laid the ground for what we call “discursive ethics”—but this is a matter for separate and broader treatment. In this perforce shorter paper I will only attempt some initial reflections on the subject.

Keywords: finalization of science, materialism, critical theory, rationalism, mimesis, bodily presence, recognition, discursive ethics, situational ethics, sovereign man, aesthetic capitalism


Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: stanislaw.czerniak@outlook.com




Beata Frydryczak


   Following the suggestion expressed in the title of this essay, I deal with the idea which allows for considering landscape garden as a paradigmatic indicator of our relationship with nature. Focusing on the idea of landscape garden and its aesthetics I analyze two aesthetic notions: the picturesque and sublime, which are the background of the kind of experience accompanying a perception and participation of and in the landscape and environment. I analyse the kind of experience, which captures all the aspects that situate the human in the environment instead of opposing it. The analysis will be conducted within the framework of aesthetics.

Keywords: Landscape garden; the picturesque; sublime; nature; environment; aesthetic experience; mood.


Affiliation: Institute of European Culture, Adam Mickiewicz University, ul. Kostrzewskiego 5–7, 62–200 Gniezno, Poland

Email: beataf@amu.edu.pl         




Gisbert Hoffmann


   The author presents Gernot Böhme’s median mode of being theory, which attempts to find an anthropological middle ground between the rational and the irrational, the spiritual and the corporeal and the active and passive in human experience. Böhme’s reflections on the median mode of being are normative in character and linked to the concept of “sovereign man,” which he strongly defends and whose main characteristics Hoffmann outlines in the first part of the essay. Among others, Hoffmann argues against Böhme’s excessive emphasis on the controlling/restrictive functions of awareness at the cost of those functions which serve to protect and stimulate life, his non-distinction between the distance to a cognized object and its intellectual instrumentalisation, and his rather one-sided tendency to seek the sources of European rationalism in the Socratean tradition.    

Keywords: median mode of being; nature; model; activeness; passiveness; immediacy; self-consciousness; awareness; conscience; sovereignty; lived-body; corporeality.  


Affiliation: Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr, Manteuffelstraße 20, 22587 Hamburg, Germany (the Author was died in 2012)

Email: Please, see the notice above.




Hisanori Kato


   The psychological gap based on distrust and mutual ignorance between the Islamic world and the rest of the world, including Japan, has never been wider than it is today. Some might think that Islamic and other civilizations share little common ground in terms of basic values concerning humanity. Some even claim that “the clash of civilizations” is inevitable. However, it is too early to conclude that these civilizations will always be in conflict with each other. Although their theological interpretations of God and the teachings of their religions show clear contrasts, there might be some common values that they can share in social life. One of the most prestigious and well-known Islamic boarding schools or Pesantren in Indonesia, Al-Mukumin of Solo in Central Java, offers fundamentalist education. Yet, the students in this school still learn about the importance of co-existence with non-Muslims through social activities and classroom instructions. Multiculturalism and the appreciation of non-Muslims are clearly emphasised in the curriculum. Based on the field research conducted in January 2013, I will attempt to picture the state of Islamic education in Indonesia and identify some values common to Islamic and other civilizations, such as Western and Japanese.

Keywords: Islamic civilization; Islamic fundamentalists; multiculturalism; Pesantren.


Affiliation: Butsuryo College of Osaka, Sakai, Osaka 593–8328, Japan

Email: hisanorikato@hotmail.com




Mikhail I. Mikhailov


   The article considers the aesthetic meaning of Catholic and Orthodox cultural phenomena. According to the author, Catholicism is closely related to the notion of the tragic, which is manifested in the contrast between the Heavenly (spirit) and the Earthly (body). Therefore Catholicism, generating an important aesthetic notion, gave rise to Romanticism. The author regards Orthodoxy as the foundation of the Russian Symbolism (i.e. neo-Romanticism). Its essence is the proclamation of the Beauty of the man, which is revealed in the synergy of the Spiritual (i.e. heavenly) and the Earthly (i.e. bodily). In the aesthetic aspect Catholicism and Orthodoxy rather complement than oppose each other.

Keywords: Catholicism; Orthodoxy; the tragic; the beauty of man; art; Romanticism; Russian Symbolism.


Affiliation: Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University, Nizhny Novgorod, ul. Ulijanova 12, 603950, Russia

Email: gigara@mail.ru




Rudolf Wolfgang Müller


   The author points to the spiritual relationship between certain underlying ideas in the philosophy of Gernot Böhme—especially in the areas of aesthetics and anthropology—and the typical features of Japanese culture as visible in its art, language and everyday life. For this, he turns to Böhme’s essay On the Aesthetics of the Ephemeral to show the typically ephemeral character of the Japanese painting school, he also reflects on the sophisticated aesthetics of Japanese culinary art. In Mueller’s opinion Japanese culture in many ways put some of Böhme’s philosophical postulates to practical use, notably those concerning the contemplative tendencies of individuals, the obliteration in experience of the difference between the subjective and objective (and in language between the active and passive voice), and the passive acceptance of atmospheric factors.

Keywords: anima japonica; similarity; the ephemeral; transience; meditation; sympathy; subject; object; behavior modes; perception; tradition; everyday life.


Affiliation: (professor emeritus), Department of Leibniz Universität Hannover, Postfach 6009. D–30060 Hannover, Germany 

Email: miura.r.w@t-online.de




Teresa Pękala


   The paper treats Gernot Böhme’s project of new aesthetics as a signal of the advent of postmodern cosmology with the status of a philosophical theory. The main task of this study is to use some categories of Gernot Böhme’s aesthetics in discussing the processes of aestheticization of reality not only in terms of changes that occur between the human environment in the spatial but also in temporal dimension. The starting point is the analysis of aesthetic sense experience with a cognitive character. This experience is analyzed by Böhme within three main fields of aesthetic interest: nature, design, and art. The processes of aestheticizing reality blur the boundaries between the natural and the artificial to such an extent that the essence of aesthetic cognition should be investigated by analyzing nature together with design. Böhme’s categories of philosophy of nature can be utilized creatively to analyze aesthetic experience of the past. The phenomenon of the ephemeral and the concept of atmospheres take the rhythms of nature into account but it contrasts them with the human conception of time. The postmodern attitude towards time suggests a different theoretical approach that can be treated as the expansion of Böhme’s aesthetics, which is more focused on analyzing changes in space.

Keywords: aesthetic experience; time; the past; art.; nature; the ephemeral; the sensual; postmodernity.


Affiliation: Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology , Marie Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, pl. M. Curie-Skłodowskiej 4, 20–031 Lublin, Poland

Email: teresa.pekala@umcs.lublin.pl

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