Dying Is Only Human. the Case Death Makes for the Immortality of the Person

By Roth, Steffen | Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Dying Is Only Human. the Case Death Makes for the Immortality of the Person


Roth, Steffen, Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry


Abstract

The claim of the present article is that human mortality makes a case for the discovery of the immortal nature of the person. Based on a clear distinction of the concepts of the human being and the person, human beings and persons are considered immortal insofar as both entities evidently do not qualify for a definition as living systems. On the one hand, human beings are presented as neither lifeless nor living systems. On the other hand, persons are introduced as lifeless systems and, as a result, immortal system. This claim is extended by the statement that, even if supposed to be living systems, persons could be considered at least potentially immortal, which is illustrated by a brief and proxy case of the person of Karl Marx.

Keywords

Human condition

Death

Life

Immortality

Person

Interaction

Social systems

The human condition: Death becomes us

On the one hand, the situation could not be clearer. Humans are living creatures and as death makes life, human mortality is maybe the most constitutive feature of human nature. On the other hand, mortal man is said to possess immortality (Arendt, 1993), with this claim being staked out along the circles of life or the evolution of cultures that tie the generations. With due routine, the contradiction involved is solved by distinguishing individual humans and mankind; the latter of which has proved immortal so far.

Beyond the margins of this collective claim for human immortality, death appears as a very personal problem. Persons are commonly considered human, or at least living, beings and, therefore, mortal. Persons who, nonetheless, feature immortality are not considered natural - the result being that combinations of personality and immortality are so far attributed to legal persons only (Coleman, 1973). Hybrids by un-nature - these corporate actors or organizations - are personalized right up to the observation of individual attitudes (e.g. irony, cf. Hoyle & Wallace, 2008) or psychoses (Sievers, 2006) and, as collectives, nonetheless, are perfectly in line with the idea that all real natural persons die.

In the present article, however, we will start from the assumption that once born, persons are no longer so easily brought to death. The death of a human being is not enough to kill his person. Rather, the opposite is true: human mortality is the best case for the potential immortality of the person. In the following, we will demonstrate why.

The human personality: A matter of life and death?

Approaching an answer to the question of how human mortality supports the idea of the immortality of the person, we find that the concepts human and person are often used as quasi-synonyms. In the preamble, the Charter of the United Nations (UN) reaffirms "faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person". Given that the UN does not intend to resonate the idea of non-human persons and explicitly contradicts the idea of human un-persons, the emphasis of the human nature of the person makes a tautological impression as long as we do not consider alternative foundations of personality. In presenting one of these alternatives, we will treat the idea of the human nature of personality as the null hypotheses, which we will even extend for the sake of the author's challenge and reader's convenience. Not regarding the multitude of necessary and sufficient human conditions discussed throughout the centuries, we will focus exclusively on the human feature relevant to the present issue - namely, the idea that personality is a matter of life and death. Accordingly, the null hypothesis is that human persons are to be considered living systems and, therefore, definitely mortal. Consequently, the alternative hypothesis reads: Persons are not mortal, regardless of whether or not we consider humans living systems. To corroborate the alternative hypothesis, we will emphasize the difference between the concepts of human and person, argue that humans are not living systems and, finally, demonstrate how the mortality of the human organism, nonetheless, makes the case for the immortality of the person. …

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