The Human Person: Animal and Spirit

The Human Person: Animal and Spirit

The Human Person: Animal and Spirit

The Human Person: Animal and Spirit

Excerpt

A preface is personal, while a book is presented impersonally.

For some, the human being is primarily a spirit, a being with intellect and choice, and only secondarily a being tied up with the body and living in the world with other animals.

In this book I approach things from the opposite perspective. The first need is to understand the human being's character as an animal living in the world, and it is only at a second stage that one can go on to understand what is special to human beings, what is involved in their intellectuality and their capacity for reflection and choice. (It is for this reason that, except for the sake of literary convenience, I do not speak of the human person as a 'person' in Part One of the book but only as a 'being' or 'animal'. For that is the question of Part Two, whether this particular kind of being is indeed a 'person', a being whose thought and action is moved through the intellect rather than merely by chance or material causation.)

Accordingly, Part One of this book is directed towards systematically closing off each and every avenue to the reconstruction of dualistic or materialist positions reducing animals and human beings to their parts and their interrelations, and to setting forth the resulting holism in a positive light. This establishes the human being as truly an animal. The question then remains as to whether and how this animal can also be a spirit, a spiritual or intellectual being whose existence transcends the body. Part Two makes it intelligible how this can be so and indeed demonstrates that it is so, basing its principal arguments on the nature of language -- on the generality and openness of its basic structures and concepts and its flexibility, all within the context of an intrinsic self-reflexiveness. This is crucial since it is language in its integral development (a development which reveals each element and aspect as integrated with others in an organic whole) which is above all the peculiarity, the specific defining feature of human nature.

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