Challenges facing society – University of Copenhagen

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Research > Strengths > Interdisciplinary strengths > The self > Challenges facing society

Challenges facing society

It is about the human being

The problems faced by contemporary society are about the human being. Shortages and inequality of resources, environmental changes, lifestyle diseases, overpopulation and depopulation, violent conflicts locally and regionally as well as international terrorism, are examples of this. The question of views of the human being and identity cannot be isolated, as if they are relevant only to specific problems facing society. They are involved in everything. As such, it is impossible to take a single decision designed to solve social problems without both presupposing a certain view of the human being and accepting that this view will have consequences for how we think about the human being. It also means that not a single one of the challenges we face can be studied and elucidated in detail, if the question of what makes up the human being is not taken into consideration.

The question of the human being as a self

However, another dimension has to be included in the thinking. It covers everything that concerns the human being as a self. When views of the nature of the human being and identity are included in research and in decision-making, it is about us human beings. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen are studying precisely this aspect of thinking and action. Research projects based at the University cover very different approaches and a broad spectrum of subject areas and illuminate aspects of the question of the human being as a self. What is the self? What does it mean that human beings cannot escape seeing and relating to themselves? Should it be seen as something special, as something that distinguishes humans? Can the self be located? Can it be seen? Can the self be sick? Does it make sense to ask such questions? Can the self be formed and educated? If so, by whom and for what?

The results obtained, and the insights gained by the researchers about the human being as a self are important to our knowledge of how specific social developments partly presuppose a certain view of human beings and have partly consequences for that view.