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What Is Truth?
04-14-2010, 12:56 AM
Following on from the thread Lynx started on morality, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the question of how we should understand the meaning of personhood.

John Wyatt, a Professor of Ethics and Perinatology gave a fascinating lecture on this subject a couple of years ago. The lecture is available to:
read
listen to
or watch
via the Faraday Institute website (which has a number of other excellent multimedia resources worth looking at).

Prof Wyatt argues - against the definitions given by atheist ethicists like Peter Singer and Michael Tooley who say that a person is someone who has self-awareness - that personhood is something ontologically fundamental, and is profoundly relational rather than individualistic.

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the lecture from an Islamic perspective (as Wyatt argues for his definition of personhood from a Trinitarian perspective) and from an atheistic perspective (as Wyatt issues a number of challenges to a naturalistic and reductionist view of personhood), and your thoughts on the subject in general.

Looking forward to hearing your views,
Matthew
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Lynx
04-14-2010, 02:20 AM
Originally Posted by What Is Truth?
Following on from the thread Lynx started on morality, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the question of how we should understand the meaning of personhood.

John Wyatt, a Professor of Ethics and Perinatology gave a fascinating lecture on this subject a couple of years ago. The lecture is available to:
via the Faraday Institute website (which has a number of other excellent multimedia resources worth looking at).

Prof Wyatt argues - against the definitions given by atheist ethicists like Peter Singer and Michael Tooley who say that a person is someone who has self-awareness - that personhood is something ontologically fundamental, and is profoundly relational rather than individualistic.

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the lecture from an Islamic perspective (as Wyatt argues for his definition of personhood from a Trinitarian perspective) and from an atheistic perspective (as Wyatt issues a number of challenges to a naturalistic and reductionist view of personhood), and your thoughts on the subject in general.

Looking forward to hearing your views,
Matthew

I just finished reading the article but I didn't find it interesting or unique in any significant way.

1) I didn't quite see the threat posed to the secular definition of person-hood. Yes, I would say if a brick fell on someone's head as they walked out the door and lost their consciousness and became a vegetable that they are no longer 'persons'. I don't care if its fragile; somethings are fragile. I also don't think the secular version of person-hood entails that if one loses consciousness temporarily that they are equivalent to non-persons. The person who loses consciousness temporarily has a stake in the world. If someone leaves their property for a year and we know they will be back in the year we don't tear down the property saying 'well it has no *current* owner' (forget the legal implications I am talking about basic ethical property rights).

2) I did not see the justification for 'God gives person-hood' or people's love giving person-hood. He sort of just said it and said 'it's better than the secular version' and appealed to emotion with statements like 'how would you like your mother being treated in a secular way' (paraphrased). Why would God's love for something give it a status for person-hood? If God stopped existing and a person x lived in isolation are we to conclude he isn't a person?

3) His argument leads to the conclusion that one ought to treat a person no matter what. I know he denies this but he made no argument to deny this. Saying 'enough is enough' is great, but not consistent with his viewpoint. That person is still a person as long as they live since God will always love them so it seems that there is no point where we stop treating someone. I think he recognized this is as a tough viewpoint to put forward but didn't do a good job of eliminating the potential entailment of this consequence from his argument.

4) The Islamic viewpoint is that God gave man a soul and thus they are persons. Even strict & literalist muslim scholars like the Wahabi kind that run Islam-QA have said in some fatwas that if a girl is raped she can abort the fetus before the time period in which God breathes the soul into the fetus.
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CosmicPathos
04-14-2010, 03:13 AM
Originally Posted by Lynx
I just finished reading the article but I didn't find it interesting or unique in any significant way.

1) I didn't quite see the threat posed to the secular definition of person-hood. Yes, I would say if a brick fell on someone's head as they walked out the door and lost their consciousness and became a vegetable that they are no longer 'persons'. I don't care if its fragile; somethings are fragile. I also don't think the secular version of person-hood entails that if one loses consciousness temporarily that they are equivalent to non-persons. The person who loses consciousness temporarily has a stake in the world. If someone leaves their property for a year and we know they will be back in the year we don't tear down the property saying 'well it has no *current* owner' (forget the legal implications I am talking about basic ethical property rights).

2) I did not see the justification for 'God gives person-hood' or people's love giving person-hood. He sort of just said it and said 'it's better than the secular version' and appealed to emotion with statements like 'how would you like your mother being treated in a secular way' (paraphrased). Why would God's love for something give it a status for person-hood? If God stopped existing and a person x lived in isolation are we to conclude he isn't a person?

3) His argument leads to the conclusion that one ought to treat a person no matter what. I know he denies this but he made no argument to deny this. Saying 'enough is enough' is great, but not consistent with his viewpoint. That person is still a person as long as they live since God will always love them so it seems that there is no point where we stop treating someone. I think he recognized this is as a tough viewpoint to put forward but didn't do a good job of eliminating the potential entailment of this consequence from his argument.

4) The Islamic viewpoint is that God gave man a soul and thus they are persons. Even strict literalist muslim scholars like the Wahabi kind that run Islam-QA have said in some fatwas that if a girl is raped she can abort the fetus before the time period in which God breathes the soul into the fetus.
pretty inaccurate and short-sighted. They (wahhabis) also take the Quranic verse which goes something like this "some verses are literal and allegorical" literally. That means "wahhabis" do accept that allegorical verses exist. Hence they are not strictly literalists or even remotely literalists as you make them out to be. Rather that is a term used by semi-educated newspaper journalists or newscasters.
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Lynx
04-14-2010, 03:22 AM
Originally Posted by mad_scientist
pretty inaccurate and short-sighted. They (wahhabis) also take the Quranic verse which goes something like this "some verses are literal and allegorical" literally. That means "wahhabis" do accept that allegorical verses exist. Hence they are not strictly literalists or even remotely literalists as you make them out to be. Rather that is a term used by semi-educated newspaper journalists or newscasters.
Oh, I know they believe in allegorical verses. Actually I meant to say strict Muslims and strict literalists. My post was unclear I have changed it accordingly. I hope it is more accurate now. I still maintain they are literalists considering their theology; historically, as the inheritors of ibn hanbal's school of thought, they continue the literalist tradition.
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Mhtalabh
04-14-2010, 03:25 AM
Originally Posted by mad_scientist
pretty inaccurate and short-sighted. They (wahhabis) also take the Quranic verse which goes something like this "some verses are literal and allegorical" literally. That means "wahhabis" do accept that allegorical verses exist. Hence they are not strictly literalists or even remotely literalists as you make them out to be. Rather that is a term used by semi-educated newspaper journalists or newscasters.
We all muslims should be as mentioned in Quran one nation , we should not be against each other we should work hard to make our nation with high position among the other nations.
we should like each other and we should be good for the others who are non muslims, we should guide the to Islam. we should spread peace all over the world.
For more about Islamic Nation Reformation please visit: www.islamicnr.com
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CosmicPathos
04-14-2010, 03:26 AM
Originally Posted by Lynx
Oh, I know they believe in allegorical verses. Actually I meant to say strict Muslims and strict literalists. My post was unclear I have changed it accordingly. I hope it is more accurate now. I still maintain they are literalists considering their theology; historically, as the inheritors of ibn hanbal's school of thought, they continue the literalist tradition.
Believing that allegorical verses exist is also a part of theology. Whatever those allegorical verses say, belief in them is also a part of theology. So Hanbalis, or Wahhabis, believe in allegorical aspects of theology. I dont see how they are literalists. I, however, do see that how they are wrongly blamed to be them. "ooh my child, be scared, here comes the literalist." Fear mongering by the Sufi ilk.
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Lynx
04-14-2010, 03:43 AM
Originally Posted by mad_scientist
Believing that allegorical verses exist is also a part of theology. Whatever those allegorical verses say, belief in them is also a part of theology. So Hanbalis, or Wahhabis, believe in allegorical aspects of theology. I dont see how they are literalists. I, however, do see that how they are wrongly blamed to be them. "ooh my child, be scared, here comes the literalist." Fear mongering by the Sufi ilk.
I have no problem continuing this discussion with you in a different thread. I think it isn't fair to the OP to hijack this thread and turn it into a discussion about the Wahabi movement. So, I will make a thread in response to your statement; you can reply to that thread if you want to continue although this is a matter of semantics if anything.
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