Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Topic: The Human Person

This topic is brought to you by Christina Bernardo:

Tapping Topic: Human Person

What does it mean to be a human person? I hope we can agree there is more to humanity than opposable thumbs, but can one simply identify a human by recognizing a few similar characteristics?
Plato calls a human a ‘featherless biped.’ Diogenes brings forth a plucked chicken, claiming here is Plato’s man.

Does a human person necessarily have the capacity for emotion? Does a person have to recognize this capacity for emotion in others? Does being human have nothing to do with feeling at all, or are we just relating to each other on a basis that we can relate to?
For instance, Hegel states that by owning property we are actualizing ourselves and having ourselves recognized by others; is being a human person simply reducible to owning private property?

Are human characteristics solely human traits? Is it a dangerous idea to put animals on the same level as human beings?

Once we are able to define what some characteristics of human person are, it would be neglectful for us not to relate our theorizing to the context of actuality. How does our agreed upon definition apply in our society today? Are all that possess these common grouping of human characteristics considered human beings? How do we root our theory of the human person in practical reality, and see if it really works in the world we live in? If we find the theory of characteristics of a human person does not apply to actuality, where does the problem lie and is it the problem something that can be fixed or something inherently ingrained in humanity? Are we potentially expecting more out of humanity that what is possible?

Food for Thought:
A human being is only breath and shadow.

No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.
John Steinbeck

Well, at the heart of each culture is a very special way that is sees the world, a way that it thinks the human experience.
Chaim Potok

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein


Solid topic.
I would ask, however, what about the capacity for rational thought and language as criteria for humanity? For centuries in philosophy this is how humanity has been defined in order to separate men (persons if you prefer) from beasties, specifically with Aristotle's binomial nomenclature for human beings as "animal rationale," or the animal that thinks as opposed to the rest of animals which don't. The question of rational thought leads quite naturally into the question of the logos, or more generally language, as the foundation of thought. This new question might be not so much, how is man separated from beast, but how is man separated from the advanced computational language using hardware that he has created to do his calculations?
Just another way to spin it.
Love and Peace,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Now, I know I just sent out a million invitations to have everyone be able to make posts on this website, but I need to lay down a few ground rules for posting, and state my intentions.

This website is dedicated to Tapping Philosophy, the undergraduate philosophy club at Villanova University. That being said I'd like the format to be something this:

Rule 1)
Posts are reserved for topics and announcements.
This will keep the front page nice and clean

Rule 2)
Responses and criticisms should be situated as comments on a particular post.

Now I know someone is going to come along and think that they have something interesting to say that they think is substantive, and you know what? That's great. However, I warn you, if you are posting something that I think is b.s. or even not philosophically related, I will probably delete the post and remove your authorship capability.

This may seem harsh, but I will qualify it in this way. If I honestly think you intended to post b.s. your authorship is out the window, and maybe you email me or talk to me in person if you want to get it back. If I feel your post was unintentionally b.s. then I might delete it, explain to you why it was b.s., and ask you to think before you post next time.

However, if you're posting something that has good content and is relevant to our philosophical understanding of the world, go right ahead.

Be warned. I will not allow this platform to serve anyone's agenda besides that of the continued evolution of tapping philosophy. If you make one post about environmentalism or something that's cool. Nevertheless, this blog is not about environmentalism categorically, so if you're posting all the time about stuff that may be relevant and happening related to enviornmentalism, but not necessarily philosophical in nature, then I will catch on, and it will stop.

The irony is not lost on me as I make this remark at this particular moment, but this website will not turn into anyone's soapbox. That being said, I like to think of myself as a reasonable person, and I encourage people to post if they have things to say that have worthwhile content and are interesting from an objective standpoint. I will be SOMEWHAT lenient as far as what qualifies as philosophical content, and I will probably be happy as long as your post has a certain critical intellectual rigor.

That. Is. All.

Love and Peace,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007