Persons―What Philosophers Say about You (Vol 1)

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9780889202511: Persons―What Philosophers Say about You (Vol 1)
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How do we define what a person is? Can one suffer radical change and still be a person though not the same person one once was? Is it possible to still be a human being but not a person at all?

The word “person” has become a familiar part of many an activist’s battle cry in the latter half of the twentieth century: it has been used abundantly by feminists, ethnic groups as well as pro-life and pro-choice advocates. We constantly hear, in medical ethics and many other fields, about respect for persons, rights of persons and treatment appropriate only to persons. These debates proceed as if we are all agreed on what persons are. But there are many concepts and definitions of a person in current use.

Prompted by a terrible tragedy ― a loved one’s descent into dementia as a result of multiple sclerosis ― Warren Bourgeois here explores the history of Western philosophical ideas about persons from the Ancient Greeks to the present. He examines what we have believed about ourselves and why, and he links the ideas of the great thinkers to our contemporary world by applying them to the analysis of a woman’s radical personal changes. Finally he uses the lessons of history to develop a proposal for a way to think about ourselves today. This lively and accessible book will be of interest not only to students of philosophy and the history of ideas, but to all those who care about what we are, why we matter and what kind of changes we can survive.

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About the Author:

Warren Bourgeois received his doctorate at the University of California, Irvine and has lectured at the University of Salzburg, Austria, the University of California, San Diego and the University of British Columbia. He now teaches at Kwantlen College in Surrey, BC. He serves on the Ethics Committee of Surrey Memorial Hospital and is a Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.

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``Whatever else, this book will force readers to think through their own understanding of person, and it will supply many resources for the job.

``...an engaging account of views of human nature and personhood taken by the ancients, medievals, Renaissance and the early moderns, moderns, contemporary Continentalists, and analytic as well as recent philosophers....This text is one of the best introductions to the issues surrounding personhood in many years. Highly recommended.

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Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2003
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