Archive for the ‘imago dei’ Category

All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not

April 11, 2013

All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not.

Aayan Hirsi Ali, Nomad, Simon & Schuster, 2010, p.212

But how does Aayan grant such a status to all peoples regardless of achievement, talents and wealth? And from what vantage point can she declare de haut en bas that some societies are morally superior to others? What grounds her secular faith?

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The Greeks have but one word, logos, for both speech and reason; not that they thought there was no speech without reason, but no reasoning without speech

October 29, 2009

The Greeks have but one word, logos, for both speech and reason; not that they thought there was no speech without reason, but no reasoning without speech.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Part 1, Chapter IV

 

Multiple Personality Disorder – A Consequence of Postmodernism?

October 11, 2009

The assumption of one single subject (self) is perhaps unnecessary; perhaps it is just as permissible to assume a multiplicity of subjects, whose interaction and struggle is the basis of our thought and our consciousness in general? …My hypotheses: The subject as multiplicity.

Nietzsche

With no predetermined nature given by God, man is ‘free’, chameleon-like, to change his personality at whim. But with the loss of a centre for the self, is it no wonder that some are disorientated and end up psychologically damaged?

Rights spring directly from an understanding of what man is, but if there is no agreement on the nature of man, or a belief that such an understanding is in principle impossible, then any attempt to define rights or to prevent the creation of new and possibly spurious ones will be unavailing

October 3, 2009

Rights spring directly from an understanding of what man is, but if there is no agreement on the nature of man, or a belief that such an understanding is in principle impossible, then any attempt to define rights or to prevent the creation of new and possibly spurious ones will be unavailing. As an example of how this could come about, consider the possibility of a future superuniversalization of rights, where the distinction between human and non-human is lost.

Today, everybody talks about human dignity, but there is no consensus as to why people possess it.

If there is no rational basis for saying that human beings have a dignity superior to that of nature, then there is no rational basis for saying that one part of nature, like baby seals, has a dignity superior to another part, like HIV viruses. There is in fact an extremist fringe of the environmental movement that is much more consistent on this score, believing that nature as such—not just sentient or intelligent animals,
but all of natural creation—has rights equal to those of man. The consequences of this belief is an indifference to mass starvation in countries like Ethiopia, since this is simply an example of nature paying man back for overreaching, and a conviction that man ought to return to a “natural” global population of a
hundred million or so (rather than his current five billion plus) so that he will no longer disturb the ecological balance as he has done since the Industrial Revolution.The extension of the principle of equality to apply not just to human beings but to non-human creation as well may today sound bizarre, but it is implied in our current impasse in thinking through the question: What is man? If we truly believe that he is not capable of moral choice or the autonomous use of reason, if he can be understood entirely in terms of the sub-human, then it is not only possible but inevitable that rights will gradually be extended to animals and other natural beings as well as men. The liberal concept of an equal and universal humanity with a specifically human dignity will be attacked both from above and below: by those who assert that certain group identities are more important than the quality of being human, and by those who believe that being human constitutes nothing distinctive against the nonhuman. The intellectual impasse in which modern relativism has left us does not permit us to answer either of these attacks definitively, and therefore does not permit defense of liberal rights traditionally understood.

Franci Fukuyama, The End of History, pp.295-6

Through space the universe grasps me and swallows me up like a speck. But through thought I grasp it

September 25, 2009

Through space the universe grasps me and swallows me up like a speck. But through thought I grasp it.

Pascal

Antonio Damasio describes 12 patients who lost the pre-frontal part of their brains, the part that controls our emotions

September 24, 2009

In his book, Descartes’ Error, Antonio Damasio describes 12 patients who lost the pre-frontal part of their brains, the part that controls our emotions. These people were ‘rational fools’. They were normal in every respect, had no paralysis and no damage to the general intelligence, and performed just as well in psychological tests as they did before their accidents. But their lives seemed to fall apart. They could not hold down jobs, show affection or take decisions. They were completely cold-blooded, showing no response to either good news or bad, to love or to hate. Despite their rationality, they had lost control of their lives…

Charles Handy, The Hungry Spirit, pp.104-5

rationality is the little tell-tale rift in Nature which shows that there is something beyond or behind her

September 24, 2009

(Man’s) rationality is the little tell-tale rift in Nature which shows that there is something beyond or behind her.

C. S. Lewis, Miracles, (London, 1947), p. 38

What is man?

September 17, 2009

The field of philosophy in this cosmopolitan significance may, according to Kant, be marked off into the following questions. “1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope? 4. What is man? Metaphysics answers the first question, ethics the second, religion the third and anthropology the fourth.” And Kant adds: “Fundamentally all this could be reckoned as anthropology, since the first three questions are related to the last.” This formulation repeats the three questions of which Kant says, in the section of his Critique of Pure Reason entitled Of the ideal of the supreme good, that every interest of the reason, the speculative as well as the practical, is united in them. In distinction from the Critique of Pure Reason he here traces these questions back to a fourth question, that about the being of man, and assigns it to a discipline called anthropology…

Martin Buber,  Between Man and Man, p.149

So the key question is what is man? Answer this and the rest falls into place.

The loss of God and human personality

September 10, 2009

I believe that with the loss of God, man has lost a kind of absolute and universal system of coordinates, to which he could always relate anything, chiefly himself. His world and his personality gradually began to break up into separate, incoherent fragments corresponding to different, relative, coordinates.

Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, dissident, later President

When humans are no longer deemed ‘human’

September 8, 2009

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, visited Lodz, Poland. Of the city’s 200,000 Jews he wrote back to SS headquarters: “They are no longer people, but beasts. There is therefore not a humanitarian, but a surgical task. Here one must make a radical incision. Otherwise Europe will be ruined by the Jewish sickness.”

If man is not the image of God, what makes Goebbels ‘wrong’?

Let me quote Heinrich Himmler speaking on October 6, 1943 to a meeting of Gauleiters and Reichsleiters in Poznam.

The quote was recorded by Erich Goldhagen

“I must ask you only to listen to what I tell you in this group and never to speak about it. We were asked: What about the women and children? I made up my mind to find a clear solution here too. You see, I did not feel I had a right to exterminate the men – i.e. kill them or have them killed – while allowing the children to grow up and take revenge upon our sons and grandsons. We had to reach the difficult decision of making this nation vanish from the face of the earth.”

This quote is from “Albert Speer: The End of a Myth” by Matthias Schmidt page 196 (English version St. Martins’ Press, New York, 1984).-