Monday, April 18, 2016

Condemned to Personhood

I have almost no time this morning, only enough to set a course and pull up anchor. But we won't be able to sail out until tomorrow.

I can't necessarily raccoommend After the Natural Law (a little too basic), but the chapter on The Classical Conception of the Person is a helpful review, plus it converges on what we've been discussing lately.

It begins with a quote from Kierkegaard to the effect that [T]o have a self, to be a self, is the greatest concession made to man, but at the same time it is eternity's demand upon him.

Ooh. I suppose you could say that man -- at least in the Christian West -- is condemned to self- or personhood.

Yeah, the Creator has given us the priceless gift of a unique personality, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Except develop it. In the East the idea is to extinguish it, and maybe that works for them. Hey, maybe it's even providential for those particular cultures.

But in the West, even if we are not Christians we have been conditioned by 2000 years of Christianity, so might as well get with the program.

According to Hill, when we talk about the reality of the self, we're talking about three main questions: whether the self is real and not just the side effect of something else that is more real or fundamental; whether it is active, i.e., a genuine cause of its own decisions and actions; and third, whether it is morally significant in a special way.

The thing is, everyone thinks and behaves as if the self is real, causal, and morally significant, even if they pretend otherwise.

Again, "For the self to be real -- for it to be more than [just] a way of speaking -- it must possess a unity of its own and persist through time. To say that the self is a unity is to say that human personality is not hopelessly fragmented, that there are not 'plural' selves, that there is some centralized locus of identity, decision making and action that serves to bind the person into a whole" (Hill).

"It is to say that there is an integrated foundation underlying the tensions we commonly experience between conflicting reasons, desires, and emotions. It is to point to a moral, psychological, and ontological center of gravity in the person -- that which gives us our identity and makes us responsible for our actions" (ibid).

16 comments:

JP said...

"Ooh. I suppose you could say that man -- at least in the Christian West -- is condemned to self- or personhood."

You can also say that the problem isn't that we're mortal. It's that we're not.

JP said...

"Except develop it. In the East the idea is to extinguish it, and maybe that works for them. Hey, maybe it's even providential for those particular cultures."

I think they are creating a simulacrum of extinguishing it.

So, it "works" in the sense that you have temporarily appeared to extinguished it.

julie said...

Yeah, the Creator has given us the priceless gift of a unique personality, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Except develop it. In the East the idea is to extinguish it, and maybe that works for them.


Would it be fair to say that, at least to some degree, the same is true for Eastern Orthodox Christianity?

Chris said...

Bob,

If you have the time, I would be super interested to have you review Bernardo Kastrup's "Why Materialism Is Baloney". Thanx!

julie said...

Off topic, I have been studying symbolism and in my wanderings came across Tertullian's Apology. Entertaining reading; he would have fit in quite well today.

"Oh, how great the glory of the ruler who should bring to light some Christian who had devoured a hundred infants!"

Magister said...

"For the self to be real -- for it to be more than [just] a way of speaking -- it must possess a unity of its own and persist through time"

therefore, that's an idea that has to be destroyed:

http://actu.epfl.ch/news/how-the-brain-produces-consciousness-in-time-slice/

serfs simply must be convinced that they could be utterly other than they are, at any given moment

how else could we sell them things, create sufficient aggregate demand, and create a safe space for unbridled libertinism?

Van Harvey said...

Magister, the title sins it up: "How the brain produces consciousness in “time slices". No questioning of whether or not the brain's processes are involved in registering, facilitating, recording, transmiting - each of which is as equally unknown as the possibility of it producing, consciousness - it's just assumed to be Producing consciousness.

Not exactly sound scientific procedure... but I suppose beggars can't be questioners.

Van Harvey said...

(I'd try and correct the *sins* to *sums*... but sometimes you should just go with it)

Gagdad Bob said...

Chris:

I can't bring myself to read a book endorsed by Deepak Chopra. Rather, his endorsement tells me which books to avoid.

Chris said...

Ha!

(Ear to ear smiling) I understand.

JP said...

"Magister, the title sins it up: "How the brain produces consciousness in “time slices". No questioning of whether or not the brain's processes are involved in registering, facilitating, recording, transmiting - each of which is as equally unknown as the possibility of it producing, consciousness - it's just assumed to be Producing consciousness.

Not exactly sound scientific procedure... but I suppose beggars can't be questioners."

I'm pretty sure that UF covered this one.

He even had a quote directly on point.

If I had it in front of me, I could find it, but it's at home.

It's something to the effect that they need to say "we are studying the brain as if it produced consciousness."

ted said...

Well, we haven't Deepakin the chopra for a while. We are due! We even made it to the urban dictionary!

mushroom said...

Except develop it. In the East the idea is to extinguish it, and maybe that works for them. Hey, maybe it's even providential for those particular cultures.

It makes sense to me. To some extent, God gives us the revelation we need to be who and what He wants to reveal in and through us.

Gagdad Bob said...

That is what Schuon thought: different strokes (revelations) for different folks.

Allena-C said...

Blogger mushroom said...
"Except develop it. In the East the idea is to extinguish it, and maybe that works for them. Hey, maybe it's even providential for those particular cultures.

It makes sense to me. To some extent, God gives us the revelation we need to be who and what He wants to reveal in and through us."

4/18/2016 07:07:00 PM
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...
"That is what Schuon thought: different strokes (revelations) for different folks."

Well, we are all unique individuals...

JP said...

"Well, we are all unique individuals..."

We are all the same and we are all unique.

It's a both/and.