Journal of Current Research on Social Sciences (JoCReSS) - ISSN: 2547-9644

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A Critical View of Arnold Gehlen’s Anthrobiology

Making an important contribution to philosophical anthropology with his observations on human and animal natures, Arnold Gehlen introduced a human understanding based on biological foundations in order to exclude metaphysical elements from anthropology. According to Gehlen, who concludes that human beings have biological deficiencies compared to animals, because of his nature, human has primitive organs that lack instincts and physical equipment which can protect itself against the natural world. For Gehlen, the major difference between human and animal is intelligence, by this human beings have the power to resist nature by building culture and institutions. Thus, unlike the animal, which is biologically able to survive in a certain environment at all times, human has to establish his own environment. As a being open to the world, man can survive by changing every condition in his favor, with his mind. Not only is the border that Gehlen draws between animal and human so precise in reality, but also intelligence is not enough to reveal the structural difference that Gehlen claims to be between human and animal. Although Gehlen stated that the essential feature of man is to act, he ignored the irrational motifs that could take place behind the action by describing it as a pure intelligence behavior. Gehlen’s excessive emphasis on intelligence prevents ethical and political life from emerging independently of biological nature, and for exactly this reason, the difference between human and animal is itself blurred. The aim of this study is to evaluate the basic assumptions of Gehlen’s philosophical anthropology, which he called anthrobiology, from a critical perspective, and to try to reveal its deficiencies.

Gehlen, Philosophical Anthropology, Anthrobiology, Man, Animal


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