International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology

Meaning, Hermeneutics, and Ethics: Post-postmodern Subjectivity

Jens Zimmermann

Abstract

Starting from the assumption that theories of meaning and concepts of selfhood are inseparably interwoven, this paper takes the current philosophical turn toward ethics as a revival of humanistic concerns in order to argue for a formulation of selfhood as hermeneutical, ethical, and social that goes beyond both modernist and postmodernist views of the self. Drawing on the works of Michael Polanyi, Emmanuel Levinas, and John Macmurray, I argue that being human entails the creating of meaning, requires a personal-relational framework, and needs an irreducible ethical boundary. These essential elements of the self, however, require the re-admittance of the religious into our discussion about what it means to be human.

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