We are human beings, certainly. But we are also persons. Human beings form a biological kind, and it is for science to describe that kind. Probably it will do so in the way that the evolutionary psychologists propose. But persons do not form a biological kind, or any other sort of natural kind. The concept of the person is shaped in another way, not by our attempt to explain things but by our attempt to understand, to interact, to hold to account, to relate. The “why?” of personal understanding is not the “why?” of scientific inference. And it is answered by conceptualising the world under the aspect of freedom and choice. People do what they do because of events in their brains. But when the brain is normal they also act for reasons, knowing what they are doing, and making themselves answerable for it.


If we bring up our children correctly, not spoiling them or rewiring their brains through roomfuls of digital gadgetry, the sense of responsibility will emerge. They will enter fully into the world of I and You, become free agents and moral beings, and learn to live as they should, not as animals, but as persons. Allow children to interact with real people, therefore, and the grammar of first-person accountability will emerge of its own accord. Undeniably, once it is there, the I-to-you relation adds a reproductive advantage, just as do mathematical competence, scientific knowledge and (perhaps) musical talent. But the theory of adaptation tells us as little about the meaning of “I” as it tells us about the validity of mathematics, the nature of scientific method or the value of music. To describe human traits as adaptations is not to say how we understand them. Even if we accept the claims of evolutionary psychology, therefore, the mystery of the human condition remains. This mystery is captured in a single question: how can one and the same thing be explained as an animal, andunderstood as a person?


Nature, nurture and liberal values – a fascinating read on the limits of biology, and a thoughtful take on the ongoing question of what is a person.

(The Dish)

Reblog from http://exp.lore.com

You must wake up every morning and choose to be happy. You gotta put on happiness like you put on your clothes.
—14-year-old Khadim Diop at TEDxHarlem, echoing Alfred Hitchcockand millennia of science and philosophy.