- This book is about what it is to be a person, to think of oneself as an ‘I’. It is about the ways people think of themselves, and how they use these ideas in shaping their own distinctive characteristics. It is about how far we create ourselves.
- An individual person is unique and valuable. This value we place on the individual finds expression in a cluster of ideas and attitudes. People should be treated as ends in themselves, and never merely as means. One person’s loss is not necessarily justified by someone else’s gain. People have rights. And, linked to these ideas (psychologically if not logically) is the pleasure we take in human variety, and a preference for a society in which individuality flourishes.
- These values are sometimes said to have emerged in Europe just after the Middle Ages, and to be a distinctive feature of our descendant Western culture. Perhaps this is right, but our interest in the individuality of ourselves and others is based on older and more universal features of human experience. The idea of the unity1 -and uniqueness of each person is part of what is expressed by the religious belief in the soul. It is understood at some level by anyone who thinks a friend is less replaceable than a car or a piece of furniture.
- The book falls into two halves. The first part is about what it is to be a person. The second is about how we are able to create ourselves. It is also about the importance this ability has for us, and the implications of this aspect of human nature for politics and society.
- Being a person – 14
- Self-creation – 16
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)