- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Human Beings1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Summary" above.
Write-up2 (as at 27/02/2018 23:58:34): Human Beings
- Is there is a – real or formal – difference between human beings and
- human animals4,
- members of the species homo sapiens5 and
- human organisms6?
- I assume there’s a distinction between a human being and a human person7, as “person8” is an honorific and – I claim – human persons are phase sortals9 of human animals.
- For the primary argument proposing that “we” are human beings, see the work of Mark Johnston, in particular
- "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings",
- "Johnston (Mark) - Reasons and Reductionism", and
- "Johnston (Mark) - 'Human Beings' Revisited: My Body is Not an Animal".
- Johnston’s view is that human beings are constituted by10 human bodies11. I have two comments on this:-
- This superficially sounds like Baker12’s Constitution View13. However, Johnston doesn’t think the human person is separable from the human brain/body as in the case of Baker’s reified FPP14.
- Despite this, Johnston doesn’t think that we are (identical to) human animals.
- Johnston tries to tread a middle course between animalism15 and the psychological view16.
- He wants to be a naturalist – accepting the modern scientific world-picture and rejecting dualism17.
- However, because he thinks that what matters18 to us is our mental life, he considers us to be a locus of mental life.
- But, this locus is not “inchoate” or “bare” but has to be provided by our organ of mentation – namely the brain19.
- Where he differs from the animalists20 is in his response to the brain transplant intuition21 (BTI).
- So, for Johnston, a human being is – for usual practical purposes – a human organism, but is only “constituted” by one – it is not identical to one, for two reasons:-
- He – along with most people – accepts the BTI, so he thinks you can be “pared down” to a “mere brain” and then transplanted into another human body. That human being would then be you. Also, like Olson22, he doesn’t think “mere brains” are organisms23; but – unlike Olson – he doesn’t consider the human brain to be “just another organ”.
- Further, he thinks a human being is necessarily capable of appropriate mental activity. So, in the case of you falling into a PVS24, you – the human being – could be outlived by your human animal.
- Thus – for Johnston – “human being” is a rather odd concept: it is a locus of mentation, naturally embodied and not portable other than by transplanting the organ of mentation. The brain isn’t a mere organ, but – if transplanted or a BIV25 – a maximally mutilated human being.
- At the moment, I still incline towards animalism – that we are human animals; and that we can survive total and irrevocable loss of mentation, though in the process we also lose all that matters to us.
- Also, I think that there’s only a difference of emphasis or terminology between “human being”, “human animal” and “human organism”.
- This (probably) commits me to arguing that a disembodied human brain is a maximally-mutilated human animal.
- In the reading-lists below, I’ve included some items on “Human Nature”, including Christian takes on the matter, though I don’t want to get too diverted into matters of anthropology and evolutionary psychology.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read26, include27 the following:-
- "Gillett (Grant) - Young Human Beings: Metaphysics and Ethics", Gillett
- "Johnston (Mark) - Human Beings", Johnston
- "Madden (Rory) - Human Persistence", Madden
- "Madden (Rory) - The Place of The Self in Contemporary Metaphysics", Madden
- "Oderberg (David) - Johnston on Human Beings", Oderberg
- "Olson (Eric) - Why We Need Not Accept the Psychological Approach", Olson
- "Snowdon (Paul) - Persons, Animals, Ourselves: Introduction", Snowdon
- "Snowdon (Paul) - The Self and Personal Identity", Snowdon
- A reading list (where not covered elsewhere) might start with:-
- "Adams (E.M.) - On Being a Human Being", Adams
- "Anscombe (G.E.M.) - Human Essence", Anscombe
- "Anscombe (G.E.M.) - The Dignity of the Human Being", Anscombe
- "Cockburn (David), Ed. - Human Beings", Cockburn28
→ "Graham (Gordon) - Review of David Cockburn's 'Human Beings'",
- "Cooper (John) - Body, Soul and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-dualism Debate", Cooper
- "Corcoran (Kevin) - Rethinking Human Nature: A Christian Materialist Alternative to the Soul", Corcoran
- "Dupre (John) - On Human Nature", Dupre
- "Egonsson (Dan) - Dimensions of Dignity: The Moral Importance of Being Human", Egonsson
- "Green (Joel B.) - Restoring the Human Person: New Testament Voices for a Wholistic and Social Anthropology", Green
- "Heyd (David) - Human Nature: An Oxymoron?", Heyd
- "Johnston (Mark) - 'Human Beings' Revisited: My Body is Not an Animal", Johnston
- "Liu (Irene) - Elevating Human Being: Towards a New Sort of Naturalism", Liu
- "Parfit (Derek) - We Are Not Human Beings", Parfit
- "Post (John F.) - Metaphysics and Human Being", Post
- "Robinson (Denis) - Human Beings, Human Animals, and Mentalistic Survival", Robinson
- This is mostly a place-holder29.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (27/02/2018 23:58:34).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- A number of my philosophical Notes are “promissory notes” currently only listing the books and papers (if any) I possess on the topic concerned.
- I’ve decided to add some text – whether by way of motivation, or something more substantive – for all these identified topics related to my Thesis.
- As I want to do this fairly quickly, the text may be confused or show surprising ignorance.
- The reader (if such exists) will have to bear with me, and display the principle of charity while this footnote exists.
- Frequently I’ll have made copious marginal annotations, and sometimes have written up a review-note.
- In the former case, I intend to transfer the annotations into electronic form as soon as I can find the time.
- In the latter case, I will have remarked on the fact against the citation, and will integrate the comments into this Note in due course.
- My intention is to incorporate into these Notes comments on material I’ve already read rather than engage with unread material at this stage.
- I may have read others in between updates of this Note – in which case they will be marked as such in the “References and Reading List” below.
- Papers or Books partially read have a rough %age based on the time spent versus the time expected.
- I’ve not listed the essays appearing in this collection.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018