Published on March 11, 2014
Professor: Jorge Martínez Lucena (Joe Webb, 2012)
How can we defend a border between humans and the rest of the animals if the base of our identity is the minimal self? According to the phenomological definition of the minimal self, it could be argued that the so-called mineness or self-giveness - the fact that any experience implies a perspective from where it is lived - is something that we can detect in non-human animals as well. by AznKyuubi Question 1
This leads us to another question: How can such a complex narrative self emerge from this strictly sensitive feature of our experience that we share with the rest of the animal kingdom? Possible answer: Perhaps the key-point in this regard is not the minimal self. Maybe the narrative self emerges not only from this minimal self but from a group of characteristics present in our experience. Man vs. Animal
Self-aware: Our experience renders our experience present to itself.This is why we have second degree desires. For example, we can have desires which we want to suppress. “Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives.They are capable of wanting to be different, in their preferences and purposes, from what they are. Many animals appear to have the capacity for what I shall call “first-order desires” or “desires of the first order”, which are simply desires to do or not to do one thing or another. No animal other than man, however, appears to have the capacity for reflective self-evaluation that is manifested in the formation of second-order desires” (Frankfurt, Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person, 1971:7) Some Unavoidable Features of Our Human Experience
Historical: Our experience is self-aware through our personal time which is connected to certain historical and cultural moments. Some Unavoidable Features of our Human Experience
Moral: We are always pursuing the Good according to our idea of the Good which is continuously evolving through our time thanks to our self- awareness. Even if you don’t believe in the existence of the Good you are defending a position where the Good is this no-existence of the Good (Taylor, Sources of the Self, 1989) Some Unavoidable Features of our Human Experience
Intelligent:We are always trying to find a meaningful approach to our own experience which takes into account our successive ideas of the good and our persistent orientation to this Good. Some Unavoidable Features of our Human Experience
Linguistic: We are trying to grasp our experience through an acquired device called language, which is the embodiment of our reason.This would suggest that events such as brain damages, mental illness, or morphological malfunctions can alter our full-fledged human experience. Some Unavoidable Features of our Human Experience
Social: We are always having experiences through an acquired language which lets us know and develop ourselves within certain social frameworks and imaginaries. Some Unavoidable Features of our Human Experience
How can this bundle of intertwined features can be always present in our experience if the self is only another feature of the experience (minimal self)? Possible answer: “Now it is, indeed, very evident that I cannot know as an object that which I must presuppose in order to know any object” (Kant, The Critique of the Pure Reason, A402) According to this we could admit the possibility of a certain impossible self (impossible for our empiricist and naturalistic and phenomenological discourses) which would be the trascendental explanation of the bundle of intertwined features we have been discussing. Our Experience as a Sign
If we need to be capable of telling stories or of shaping our own narrative self in order to acquire personhood, how can we defend human dignity in cases where these narrative skills have not been developed or have been lost or interrupted? Possible answer:The narrativity of our experience is a perfect synthesis of the before mentioned bundle of features of our experience (self- awareness, morality, temporality, intelligibility , sociability, etc.). But all these characteristics could be the sign of this trascendental self which would then be subject of human dignity. Question 2
At this point we can make the following observations: 1.Naturalism cannot explain certain human phenomena which seem to be impossible for scientific discourse. In the face of these difficulties, naturalism can only promise that these facts will be completely grasped in the very near future. So, naturalism is asking us to believe something that is not scientificly demonstrated, which is, at the very least, contradictory. Conclusions
2.Perhaps, what we have learnt about phenomenological and hermeneutical accounts redirects us to the aristotelian explanation of humanhood. In this case, the soul would not be stricly a thing but a form of the body. Our rational psyche would then be the specific and impossible (at least, for every attempt of reduction up to now) configuration of our cells that lets us be humans. Conclusions
3.This impossibility that constitutes us has inevitably to do not only with our human condition but with our human dignity and rights as well. We don’t possess human dignity because we have invented human rights, but rather because we are the unique animals who can recognize, create and defend this rights (even animal rights). This characteristic is not something due only to a self-inventing process, it is also something given. Conclusions
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