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Rethinking the Human Person

Moral Landscape and Ethical Literacy

Nahal Jafroudi

Recent developments in the natural and social sciences have brought great benefits to humanity, both in terms of our material wellbeing and our intellectual and conceptual capacities. Yet, despite a broad ethical consensus and highly developed innate faculties of reason and conscience, there seems to be a significant discrepancy between how we ought to behave and how we actually behave, leading to a disregard for the dignity of human persons across the globe. This book suggests that the problem arises from various misunderstandings of the nature of the self and that the solution could lie in adopting a holistic concept of the human person within the context of a carefully cultivated ethical literacy. It argues that the ideas of the Iranian philosopher Ostad Elahi (1895–1974) provide a powerful and compelling alternative to the dominant post-Enlightenment understanding of selfhood, education and morality.

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Appendix 2

Extract



Epistemological Foundation of Descartes’ Metaphysics

In breaking away from the dogma of Scholastic-Aristotelian tradition and its disdain for either critique or innovation, Descartes negates its dialectic logic and the syllogistic forms of arguments, which he believes hinder the use of one’s natural reasoning abilities by habituating one’s tendency to follow the rules of the arguments, as opposed to concentrating one’s mental focus on apprehending the connections comprising a given inference. Equally, the wide use of probable syllogisms, based on probable premises yielding probable conclusions, serve to increase doubt rather than knowledge, disagreement and confusion rather than concurrence and certainty, producing conjectures rather than truth.1 Similarly, since the knowledge of the conclusion in syllogistic reasoning is somehow contained in the knowledge of the premise, such a method therefore falls short of yielding any new knowledge necessary for discovering new truths.2

Equally, in rejecting the Scholastic-Aristotelian tenet that all knowledge is derived from the deliverances of the senses or the received wisdom of the past, Descartes contends that true knowledge is to be found by turning inward to the resources of the human mind itself; rationalising that the senses sometimes deceive, rendering the truth of their propositions as naturally probabilistic and therefore open to doubt, consequently making them redundant as a reliable source in securing the veridicality of knowledge derived from them.3 He also finds that due to the symmetry between dream-filled sleep and waking life, the knowledge from the senses ← 305 | 306 → is not only...

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