“What Is Human Person?” Essay
What is a person? A seemingly easy question, however, once looked into, the ideas and presumptions that people have are filled with contradictions and controversies. Many people, religions, organisations, and governments have a differing opinion on what qualities an entity must possess to be a person, however, there are many similarities. Many religions, for example, believe a person, houses an immortal ‘soul’ or spirit, capable of eternal life. There is also the question raised – are human beings the only ones who can be a ‘person’, can animals and machines also be, or become persons? Philosophers generally agree that there are several key characteristics that can be discussed concerning personhood. The characteristics are as follows: A soul (or spirit), embodiment of the mental and physical (the question of the mind being separate to the body), the idea of beliefs and morals, rationality, self awareness, the use of language and meaning, self reflection (and imagination), and exploring what different societies and peoples, view as a full and whole person.
Religions house some of the oldest beliefs and explanations of this world, and hold a key way to understanding the people of the past, as well as their ways of thinking and explanation. Whilst modern science had proven a lot of religious beliefs (such as the origins and complexities of the of the universe) to be false, many people base their view of a person on that of their religions. For example, Christianity. The belief of the Christian Church is that every human being in born with a soul, this soul the dwells within them is unobservable, however, it is the immortal, personal link between themselves and God, connecting through prayer and reflection, and is believed that every person possesses this, thereby rendering a soul as a component of personhood. However, since the soul is unobservable, there is seemingly no way to tell whether or not a person has one, or if they...
Bibliography: Law, Stephen, 2007. The Great Philosophers, Quercus Publishing Plc, London.
Handouts from class:
What is a Human Person? Summary Notes
Problems of Knowledge: The Brain in the Vat
The Weekend Australian Magazine: January 30-31st, 2010: Can animals think?
The Human Being: Roman Catholic perspective
Handout with exerts from various stories: I, Rodney Brooks, am a Robot, How Smart is the Octopus, Spanish Parliament… Etc.
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