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Ferdinand Fellmann

Professor of Philosophy

The Couple

Deutsche Version

A glimpse at the current state of society shows how the forms of social life have changed. A hundred years ago, the lives of most people were preprogrammed by traditional practices. Now, persons can organize their own lives, they can take on various roles available at that time. This applies to the job market as well as in the private realm, where flexibility is nearly limitless. All forms of intimate living arrangements are morally allowed and accepted in society, which is evident in the establishment of homosexual unions. These changes, without doubt, give rise to an enormous amount of individual freedom. No one wants to go back to the rigid ways of living of the so-called good old times, which perished in their own contradictions.

In light of individualization, post-secular thinkers draw the conclusion that the age of the couple has ended for good. I am convinced of the opposite: The couple will not die. The cessation of societal constraints makes room for the unfolding of human nature. The human is an eccentric, paradoxical creature. He searches for societal recognition and wants at the same time individual self-determination. To balance these contradictory inclinations, only the love between two people, who desire each other, understand each other, and who rely on each other in good times and in bad, can help. Not without reason do many long for a new relationship soon after a separation.

Radical individualists denounce a tight bond as an obstacle to the way toward self-realization. This can only be reached when partners are changed, in the “plurality of the ego,” which the young generation is intoxicated with. However, it should not be forgotten that love is controlled by the emotions, which cannot be randomly turned on and off. The idea that a woman wants to have a child with a man whom she loves above all, or that a man wants to share his life with a woman, is not an outdated romanticism. It is the expression of the human need to overcome the contingency of one's own existence. I therefore make a case for the couple as anthropological radical. The couple is and remains the only way of living in which we find ourselves in the beloved other.