A Protective Shield for One and All The first article of the German constitution sets out as an unconditional imperative the commitment of all state author ities to respect and protect human dignity The obligation to preserve human dignity is unconditional it is not tied to conditions not to appropriate behavior not to compliance with laws or other norms not even to whether the bearers of human dignity themselves respect the dignity of other human beings One could say that even the most unworthy indi vidual still enjoys dignity and the state is the authority that must protect it The idea of unconditional human dignity has religious precursors think of the divine likeness of every human being even the least among them It is probably the constitutive feature of the Enlightenment One thinks of Samuel Pufendorf s natural law justification of human dignity or even more of Immanuel Kant s maxim of ends in themselves humanity being posited as an end in itself With the formulation of these principles people or groups of people can no longer be described without contra diction as being of lesser nature or value even if social practice does not always adhere to that perspective Admit tedly the normative figure of dignity has an empirical basis and the classification of human beings that has been taken for granted before now faces a society that is changing human beings in a modern society can hardly be described with just a few characteristics that represent them com pletely In comparison to earlier forms of society individual human beings today are characterized by the fact that they assume several roles at the same time that their social connections change that they act in different contexts While the existence of a person in pre modern social forms was ultimately defined with hardly any ambiguity at all by Sociologist Armin Nassehi on the first sentence of the German constitution as orientation and protection in a changing society Essay18 Robert Bosch Stiftung

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