Monday, April 13, 2009

Personhood Part I

This semester I was enrolled in a course called "Philosophy and Human Nature." Sounds pretty interesting, doesn't it? It would be so much more interesting if the course was taught by a Catholic prospective, but, alas, I am at a Jesuit university and it is not so. After most of the semester hearing about all the philosophical problems being solved and worked out in the secular sense, I started to get a little unnerved. It was just plain annoying. So, when my class had a philosophy paper assigned to us, I could not resist. The point of the paper was to take an article read in class, criticize it, and give our own opinion on the problem at hand. 

I chose personhood because of it's direct connection with pro-life issues. 

I have yet to receive a grade on this paper, but as soon as I do I will comment about it here.

Until then, I have decided to place the paper on this blog in segments over the next week. Enjoy Part I.

Horton says, "A person is a person, no matter how small" (Horton Hears a Who!). From this famous elephant's statement the question arises as to what a person exactly is. To understand what a person is, one needs not to look any further than a good definition. One can be found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary that defines “person” as a “human, individual” (“Person” def. 1). However, there are some philosophers, such as Harry Frankfurt, who would not completely agree to this definition. With a good definition, it is important to recognize the characteristics of an item to understand what the word actually means. For example, one could not accurately define a hat unless one gave an essential characteristic of a hat - be it its shape, structure, or placement on the body. Therefore, it is necessary to determine what characteristics are in place for a person to be a person. "Person" should not be defined by only one characteristic, rather, its definition should involve a vast assortment of qualities that are brought together uniquely for each individual.

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