International studies in philosophy vol:37 issue:4 pages:105-135
In this paper my aim is to shed light on the common behavior of human beings by looking at '' first contacts '': the situation where people with unshared histories first meet (who don't speak one an others' language, don't have access to interpreters, etc.). The limits of the human life form are given by what is similar in the common behavior(s) of human beings. But what is similar should not be understood as something that is biologically or psychologically or transcendentally shared by all human beings. What is similar is what human beings would recognize as similar in first or other contacts-a similarity that is, in a way, transcendentally grounded, but the content of this grounding remains tied to the local situation of actual encounters. To be a human person, it is both an empirical and a transcendental precondition that one knows the certainties of particular form(s) of life and that one is capable of recognizing and dealing with an indefinite variety of human behaviors. Because I participate in form(s) of life, I can interact with other form(s) of life. By considering first contacts and by interacting with other communities, one can learn to understand better what the common behavior(s) of human beings is/are.