Being seen

an exploration of a core phenomenon of human existence and its normative dimensions

Oliver Müller

pp. 365-380


This essay explores the nature of being visible and its normative dimensions. In a first part, core traits of an anthropology of visibility are sketched, drawing mainly on Hans Blumenberg's phenomenological studies. In a second part, human visibility is investigated regarding its implications for our self-understanding, for our relation to others, and for the publicness of our existence. Apart from Blumenberg, also Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Taylor, Hannah Arendt are involved in this examination. In a third part, two "basic rights' are brought into focus: the right to be seen and the right to remain unseen. In addition to the philosophical exploration, texts by Ralph Ellison, Elena Ferrante and Dave Eggers are discussed as literary references. In a fourth part, a performance by Marina Abramovic that thematised the connection of visibility and recognition is introduced and analysed.

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