Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 477–490 | Cite as

Existentialism and Humanism: Humanity—Know Thyself!

  • Nigel Tubbs


At times, an individual in modernity can feel dehumanised by work, by administration, by technology, and by political power. This experience of being dehumanised can take the individual to an existential awareness of the priority of existence over essence. But what does this existential experience mean? Are there ways in which this experience can reconnect the individual to her being human, or to her being part of humanity? Any such reconnection is further complicated by the suspicion that universal presuppositions concerning ‘humanity’ or ‘human being’ or ‘humanism’ carry pretensions of imperialist grandeur that must be challenged. How, then, might one proceed to connect existential vertigo with a culture of humanism that, while resisting such pretensions, nevertheless can find meaning for the dehumanised individual? In what follows I argue that a concept of modern metaphysics, with an aporetic (Hegelian) logic of subjective experience, can carry this reconnection of the I and the We, offering meaning not in the resolution of their opposition, but in learning that the meaning of their opposition, and the meaning of humanity, is learning, is our education. I argue that it is only within modern educational metaphysics that humanity and the individual Know Thyself.


Existentialism Culture Metaphysics Education Kant Hegel Humanism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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