Presentation on theme: "Lecture 3 The concept of the person. Does one have to be human to be a person? Is the distinction between persons and non- persons the same as that between."— Presentation transcript:
Lecture 3 The concept of the person
Does one have to be human to be a person? Is the distinction between persons and non- persons the same as that between humans and non-humans? Are all humans persons? Can non-human animals be persons too? If social relations are relations among persons, is the scope of social relations limited by the boundaries of humanity?
The definition of personhood of great importance in medical ethics: - Fertilized egg – a person? - Abortion debate. - Termination of pregnancy. When does a person start? Personhood definition in debates about animal rights: - Slaughter whales and dolphins. - Intelligence of animals likens them to human person.
Person (Latin) - a mask. rights and obligations of a citizen vs a slave; later still - individual self. certain rights possessed by persons. E.g. right to life. Animals: do they have rights to life? Are animals persons too?
PERSONHOOD OF ANIMALS -Vladimir Arseniev, Russian geographer. Expedition in the Far East. His guide, a native man, became a prototype for a main character called Dersu Uzala. Film Dersu Uzala (director Akira Kurasawa). Concept of the person. - Ojibwa (North of Canada). Hallowell, American anthropologist. Ojibwa sorcerers can transform into bears.
Western context: pet-keeping and animal fables. Fantasy/invented world. Allegory. ANTHROPOMORPHISM AND PERSONHOOD Ojibwa: nothing anthropomorphic about non-human beings. Animals contacts with humans are entirely incidental to its status as a person. Western relationship to animals: domination and subordination Ojibwa: equal creatures Ojibwa fables: - no allegory, - stories are based on accurate and detailed observation, not invention,
Inanimate objects as persons If inanimate objects can be persons, what are definitions then? Ojibwa: stories about thunder and stone (Hallowell). Person: inner vital part (enduring) and outer part (changing). Vital properties of a person: sentience, volition, memory and speech.
Bambi and visions of nature Matt Cartmill: A view to a death in the morning(1993). History of hunting in the Western world. Walt Disneys Bambi (1942). Reaction to WWII. Message: nature as harmony vs destruction of a man
American gun lobby and outdoor sports enthusiasts: accused Bambi lovers in indulging themselves in a sentimental, anthropomorphic fantasy. Regulated culling of wildlife was part of a rational and reasonable policy of game- management, and use of American field natural resources sport magazine Shooting Editor: In the Wonderful World of Disney animals are cuter than people. Wolves spend their time playing like kittens. The lion and lamb love one another and only many is the bastard in the black hat…whose chief aim is spilling of Bambis blood. Now this is the Bambi Syndrome. The Bambi Syndrome
Conflict between two views of nature Nature as a realm to be dominated and controlled by a man through superior force and intelligence Sacred space of beauty, mystery and harmony, to be preserved and protected from the devastating impact of human civilization
Nature viewed differently: For the Sakha (Yakut) people in Siberia ayilha (nature) everything that is not made by a man. Ayilha is a seat of multiple powerful spirits Ayilha is sentient. Compare: sentient ecology (Anderson 2000) Human being is humble in front of ayilha
Metamorphosis: A human being through the course of life can transform herself/himself into different beings. Death turns a human being into an animal. Eskimo hunters wife turns into a whale. In the course of life a human being can be transformed into a different living creature; he or she may turn into a bird, an animal or a fish be that in a dream, a story, communication with spirits, or hunting. This is an eternal journey that humans will be making the whole time they exist in this world, because life is continual birth (Scott 1989: 195). The human is just one of many outward forms of personhood Ingold (2000: 50)
Model of the person: Western model of the person: posits an inner self or conscious mind, enclosed by its container, the body; Ojibwa: self is as a centre of awareness, feeling, speech and memory through its active engagement with the world, not through its separation from it; Through feeling, remembering, intending, speaking the self is coming into being. Ojibwas self is relational
In Melanesia personhood is acquired gradually, from birth onwards (Marylin Strathern); Death: formal ending of social relationship in Melanesia; For Sora people in India dead people are still considered persons due to a continuous dialogue (Piers Vitebsky); In Siberia a hunter engages in a relationship with an animal by means of dreams;