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Die Ambivalenz des Lebens

Rolf, Thomas

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 48 (2006), Iss. 0: S. 138–163

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Rolf, Thomas


Recent discussions in the fi eld of anthropology indicate that the concept of normality has become an essential term to describe structural traits of humancondition. This article combines historical and systematic approaches to the phenomenon of normality. In the historical perspective it tries to show how theconcept has poured into the anthropological discourse from two equally relevant sources: the classical philosophy of life and the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl. In the systematic perspective the article shows how the traditional hiatus between the normal and the normative could be overcome by a specific interpretation of normality which refers to the ambivalence of life in itself. In order to guarantee that this kind of interpretation does not lead to either naturalism or essentialism, the article makes use of Georges Canguilhem’s insights into the semantics of the term ‚normality‘ which leads to a surprising redefi nition of the relation between the normal and its pretended opponents’ (the pathological, the abnormal etc.) In a final prospectus the essay tries to figure out the ethical consequences of a notion of normality which binds the idea of a fundamental life-ambivalence immediately together with the idea of life’s success.


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Thomas Rolf: Die Ambivalenz des Lebens. Eine Reflexion über den Normalitätsbegriff 137