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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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Chapter 1: The Moral Landscape


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The Moral Landscape

In the age of global change, humankind lives within a world which appears to move more and more towards unification, having gone through a series of major paradigm shifts, starting from the era of “Christendom” dominating the rest of the world towards the reign of “western secular ideologies” and then reaching the current era of globalisation. This, an era wherein science and technology transcend new frontiers at a rapid speed; where economic progress, material and physical wellbeing offer new possibilities; where travel and communication advancements allow personal contact across vast distances; and where due to unbounded exposure to other cultures and value systems, geographical boundaries no longer necessarily reflect specific sets of values and cultures. Equally, as a consequence of these systematic shifts, the emergence of global consciousness has revolutionised how humankind comprehends the process of understanding, and the meaning and status of truth (reality), or in other words, its epistemology. Within this global context, as individual lives are intermingled, both within and across national boundaries; thus, “in forging their self-identities, no matter how local their specific contexts of action, individuals contribute to and directly promote social influences that are global in their consequences and implications”.1 Yet the advent of globalisation, whilst giving impetus to the promotion of conditions to enhance human wellbeing, with its synthesis of ideas, values and practices, has brought about a myriad of complex problems. These have led to signs that are contradictory...

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