dignity is also an emancipation from the power of society over the concrete individual It is true of course that every thing that people do takes place in the context of social connections and relationships But ultimately individuality itself has no clear social address Thus the individuality of every person already acquires an enhanced standing for structural reasons The Kantian normative idea of an end in itself thus has an empirical correlate namely that before any specific end is set in relation to a specific individual the individual is already there It would be a mistake of category to derive an ought from an is But from an is in other words from the empirical experience of multiple social connections we can derive the conditions under which normative ideas emerge possibly even normative progress The powerful idea of human dignity occupies a position that in earlier times forced people into fixed indissoluble and insurmountable identities whether it was their position in the hierarchy of society their ancestry gender or skin color Against this background human dignity is a guarantor of respect for human beings regardless of their attributes And this takes on particular importance today in a world in which people are for a variety of motives once again being identified with reference to their national origin ethnicity gender skin color or sexual orientation The state cannot guarantee that society will always take this unconditionality of human beings into account With the first sentence of its constitution however it undertakes not to conform to these social dynamics Of course what this means in detail and in specific cases cannot simply be derived from the text of Article 1 of the German Basic Law but must be the subject of political and legal discourse The idea of dignity is an emancipation from the power of society over the concrete indi vidual their family membership their location or their concrete social position this no longer applies to modern societies As a result of the separation of work and private life high social mobility the strong division of labor and last but not least the expectation of an individual lifestyle the indi viduality of a person cannot be expressed through a social relationship No one is just a family member or a spouse just a man or a woman just an employee or a member of an association In addition to being legal persons people are also political citizens No one is just a patient or just a cus tomer Even convicted prisoners are not just prisoners even though they participate in fewer relationships while in prison Only in this context does the question arise of what a person is quite independently of their relation ships social status the chance circumstances of their concrete life and the limitations of their individual exis tence The answer to this question inevitably leads to unconditionality i e the fact that no external condition is required for the mere right to exist and the granting of fundamental existential rights Ultimately the idea of 19THE MAGAZINE 1 19 Te xt A rm in N as se hi    I llu st ra tio n L is k Fe ng

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