Initiated by the Helmuth Plessner Society (HPG), the city of Wiesbaden in 2013 donated a prize in honor of Helmuth Plessner. It is endowed with 20,000 Euro and is going to be granted every three years in cooperation of the HPG and the Hessian capital on Plessner’s birthday, the 4th of september – for the first time ever in the year 2014.
The reasons for the donation of the prize are the following: Helmuth Plessner, born 1892 in Wiesbaden, lived in the “Weltkurstadt” (world spa town) for the first twenty years of his life. His father, who was of Jewish origin, was a city-wide recognized physician and director of a sanatorium. After passing his Abitur (German university entrance qualification) at the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gymnasium, Plessner began his studies of both zoology and philosophy in Heidelberg; later he studied philosophy in Göttingen and Erlangen. In 1920 he passed his postdoctoral lecture qualification and subsequently pursued his career as an associate professor for philosophy next to Max Scheler at the newly founded Cologne University. Plessner wrote his most important works in the 1920s at his parent’s dinner table in Wiesbaden during Cologne’s semester break. In 1933 he had been dismissed from his position at university due to his father’s Jewish descent and went into exile to Groningen, Netherlands. After his remigration in 1949 the sociologist, he became, now at the university of Göttingen, one of the most important intellectuals of the young federal republic of Germany (“Verspätete Nation” engl. “Belated Nation”) alongside Horkheimer, Adorno and Gehlen. Plessner’s book “Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch” (engl. “The Stages of the Organic and Man”) is among the most prominent intellectual approaches of philosophical anthropology. After the revolutionary overthrows of 1989 his study about “Die Grenzen der Gemeinschaft” (“The Limits of Community”) from 1924 has been considered a meaningful early analysis of seminal conflicts of the twentieth century even beyond professional circles.
The city of Wiesbaden and the HPG commonly agreed on a statute of the prize. According to this statute the curatorship is formed on the base of parity by scientists of the Helmuth Plessner Society (Joachim Fischer (president), Marco Russo (vice president), Olivia Mitscherlich-Schönherr (general secretary), Hans Peter Krüger (former president)) and Members nominated by the city of Wiesbaden (mayor Sven Gerich, Rose Lore Scholz (head of department of culture), Tilman Allert (Frankfurt University), Detlev Reymann (University of Applied Sciences Wiesbaden) and in addition by suggestion of both parties the journalist Lorenz Jäger (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)).