a philosophical conception whose proponents consider the concept of “man” as the basic philosophical category and assert that only by proceeding from this concept can one develop a system of ideas about nature, society, and thought.

The adherents of anthropologism defend either materialistic or idealistic views. The most important representatives of materialistic anthropologism were C. Helvétius, L. Feuer-bach, and N. G. Chernyshevskii. Feuerbach introduced and provided a universal basis for the anthropological principle in philosophy. He proposed the concept of “man” as the antithesis of “idea” and “spirit”—concepts which summed up the dominant objective idealism of that period. Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, idealistic variants of anthropologism quickly developed (F. Nietzsche, W. Dilthey, and G. Simmel). Its most complete exposition was propounded by M. Scheler, one of the creators of modern philosophical anthropology. Its adherents (A. Gehlen and others), as well as the existentialist philosophers who are ideologically close to them, proposed the category of “man” as the antithesis of the concepts of “society” and “nature.”

The limitations of anthropologism are manifested primarily in its too abstract and one-sided understanding of man himself and of his peculiarity as a social being. In any of its variants, anthropologism is idealistic in its conception of society, limiting objective social relationships between people to the idealistic concept of the tie between “I” and “Thou.” As a methodological principle, anthropologism has become widespread in non-Marxist sociology, ethics, and aesthetics.


Engels, F. Liudvig Feierbakh i konets klassicheskoi nemetskoi filosofii. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21. Lenin, V. I. “Filosofskie tetradi.” In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29. Page 64. Istoriia filosofii, vol. 5. Moscow, 1961. (Chapter 7, section 1.) Korneev, P. V. Sovremennaia filosofskaia antropologiia. Moscow, 1967. E. IU. SOLOV’EV

SOURCE: The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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