An der abschließenden Konferenz des Utrechter Forschungsprojekts Human Dignity as the foundation of human rights? zur Frage, ob die Menschenrechte aus der Würde des Menschen herleitbar sind, wird Thomas Wachtendorf mit einem Vortrag beteiligt sein.

Die Würde des Menschen steht in der einen oder anderen Form regelmäßig im Fokus des Interesses von Philosophen. Um die letzte Jahrtausendwende herum schien es in der philosophischen Forschung relativ ruhig um diesen Begriff zu werden. Seit etwa zehn Jahren aber gerät der Begriff wieder verstärkt in den Blickpunkt. Im Zentrum der Fragestellung steht nun weniger, worin die wesentlichen Eigenschaften dieses Begriffes bestehen, als vielmehr, wie und wo die Würde in welcher Form in unserer Lebenswelt verankert ist – mit allen Vor- und Nachteilen einer solchen Konzeption. In den Jahren 2004 und 2007 hat Thomas Wachtendorf Beiträge zu ebendieser Fragestellung geliefert, als sie in dieser Form noch gar nicht so stark diskutiert wurde. Um so erfreulicher ist dieses neue Interesse daran. Nach den Konferenzen an den Universitäten in Bologna, Italien, (2014) und Leuven, Belgien, (2015) ist die Final Conference: The Future of Human Dignity vom 11.-13.10.2016 an der Universität in Utrecht, Niederlande, nun die dritte, auf der Thomas Wachtendorf seine Forschungsergebnisse präsentieren wird. Unter dem Titel The dignity of man as a mythological concept wird er sich mit diesem Thema befassen:

The concept of the dignity of man has often been attacked as being a loose concept. This has its reasons mainly in the fact that this concept is usually construed either as referring to a certain object or as being dependent on common agreement (consensus). In both cases serious objections can be made since on the one hand the existence of an object as the dignity of man seems quite hard to proof and on the other hand consensus is no appropriate criterion to establish the meaning of a concept, because it is quite arbitrary. Moreover, the dignity of man is a concept that conversely is intended to influence the way a society establishes concepts itself. Thus, both ways of explaining the meaning of the dignity of man seem to fail.

The philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and especially his thoughts on language games and family resemblance might lead the way to a reliable foundation of the dignity of man.

According to Wittgenstein there are certain kinds of sentences. Empirical sentences (a) tell us something about the world. They can be doubted, validated, and turn out to be right or wrong. Distinct from empirical sentences are so called grammatical sentences (b). They explain how to use words correctly, like: „Every rod has a length“ (PI, §251). These sentences can neither be doubted nor validated nor turn out to be right or wrong. However, the point of On Certainty (OC) is that there are sentences (c) which can be formally doubted like „I have two hands“, but which, in fact, are never doubted, because there is no reason to doubt them. They are self-evident. Finally there are sentences (d) which are empirical, but haven’t been validated by the individual yet so that he believes them, because someone told him so or he learned them.

Especially c-, but also d-sentences constitute a world-picture. A world-picture is not true or false, because „I did not get my picture of the world by satisfying myself of its correctness; nor do I have it because I am satisfied of its correctness. No: it is the inherited background against which I distinguish between true and false“ (OC, §94). The sentences which constitute the world-picture „might be part of a kind of mythology“ (OC, §95). Thus, „an entire mythology is stored within or language“ (RFGB, 133). Speaking a language therefore always means working on one’s world-picture.

I will argue that ethical concepts like especially the dignity of man are a subclass of (c). As „absolute metaphors“ (Blumenberg) they constitute our world-picture und therefore the way we see the world and react to it. Though, ethics is less a system of prescriptions, but rather a constant struggle for how we want to live. In this sense Wittgenstein’s early comment: „The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man“ (TLP, 6.43) becomes understandable notably with regard to the dignity of man.

 

 

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