Original Research

‘Nature’ as a humanistic principle of universal communication? A European case study regarding natural law

Georg Essen
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 2, No 2 | a279 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v2i2.279 | © 2006 Georg Essen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 March 2016 | Published: 11 April 2006

About the author(s)

Georg Essen, Dogmatic Theology and Theory of Religion and Culture, Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Religious Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands

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The conference, “Humankind at the Intersection of Nature and Culture”, presented in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, forms part of the project “Humanism in the era of globalisation: An intercultural dialogue on culture, humanity and values”. This project works on the premise that there is a “need for a new kind of humanism, the aim is to create an understanding of humankind in an era of globalisation that encompasses all civilisations while at the same time emphasising their particularity and diversity”.

Among the problems of an intercultural hermeneutics that have been in discussion, and that we should regard as essential to the understanding of humanism demanded here, there belongs the basic intuition that there needs to be universally valid norms and values that are based upon mutual recognition of cultural diversity. In order to establish such basic norms, humanism has to appeal to basic anthropological principles that can make a claim to cross-cultural legitimacy. On the one hand, the justificatory ground discerned in these principles must be unconditional and universalisable. On the other hand, these basic anthropological principles have to be evident and intelligible within each culture’s horizon of understanding. The determining ground of the will, through which each human being can endorse this set of norms, has to be compatible with his, or her, free consent.


Norms; values; natural law; Stoa; Spanish scholasticism; Bartolomé de Las Casas; slavery; humanism; intercultural hermeneutics; Aporetics; modern natural law


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