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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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Würde des Menschen: Restoring Human Dignity in Post-Nazi Germany

Würde des Menschen: Restoring Human Dignity in Post-Nazi Germany

(p.79) 3 Würde des Menschen: Restoring Human Dignity in Post-Nazi Germany
Understanding Human Dignity

Christoph Goos

British Academy

Historical considerations have so far played a rather subordinate role in the interpretation of Article 1 German Basic Law. This is unfortunate, because the records of the proceedings of the Parliamentary Council show clearly that the famous dictum on Würde des Menschen as a ‘non-interpreted thesis’ (Theodor Heuss) was neither meant to be a carte blanche for any arbitrary interpretation nor an evidence for the impossibility of all kinds of interpretation. The ‘mothers and fathers of the Basic Law’ discussed the meaning of the legal term Würde des Menschen intensely. They agreed that it was neither a more or less vague value assignment nor just the sum of the following basic rights but a real capacity of human beings that had been proven highly vulnerable during the Nazi regime: the inner freedom of man.

Keywords:   German Basic Law, Parliamentary Council, Theodor Heuss, inner freedom, first-person-perspective, Günter Dürig, Carlo Schmid, interiority, Epictetus, Immanuel Kant

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