(2004) Philosophica 73.

The boundaries of orders

Bernhard Waldenfels

pp. 71-86

With contrast to traditional orders such as the Greek cosmos which pretend to have no outside, modernity is marked by two discoveries: the discovery of ourselves, finding never their definitive place within a given order, and the discovery of contingency, which has the effect that every order could be other than it is. Till today this double problematic leads to an endless series of compromises, turning around alternatives such as individualism and holism, particularism and universalism, relativism and absolutism and so on. Against this sort of escapism the author argues that there is a constitutive paradox of seltbounding orders, unable do take hold either inside or outside. From there arises a special sort of im- possibility, not to be understood as something which cannot be realised, but as something which permanently challenges our individual and collective possibilities. We call this the alien. Living with the alien we live on the borderline.

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Full citation:

Waldenfels, B. (2004). The boundaries of orders. Philosophica 73, pp. 71-86.

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Translation of

Grenzen der Ordnung


Bernhard Waldenfels

in: Moderne(n) der Jahrhundertwenden, Baden-Baden : Nomos