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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 2: Ethical Literacy


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Ethical Literacy

The modern era of globalisation, which exhibits and upholds humanity’s interconnectedness, has also highlighted a significant discrepancy between how one ought to be and how one behaves. Where, on the one hand, the broad global ethical consensus, together with humankind’s innate faculties of reason and conscience, oblige the agent to uphold the rights and dignity of human life, on the other hand, humanity’s actions reflect a far cry from such an ideal. That is, existing ethnic-religious fragmentation; emergence of religious sects; escalation of fundamentalism; ecological degradation; economic disequilibria; political instability; moral deterioration, corruption; increase of criminality; rise of selfishness; superficiality and indifference, to name but a few, are testaments to humankind’s neglect of its moral self. For, though humanity’s nature is constantly seeking answers and thirsting for the “truth”, by forsaking the commonalities that underlie its diverse global tapestry and disregarding the individuality that defines each being and selfhood, humankind allows for the falling into the trap of the ever-consuming egotism that is concordant with an egocentric culture, and is thus antithetical to valuing the sense of dignity that is inextricably braided into understanding of what it means to be human.

Consequently, building a dignified and ethical global community, whose members recognise and uphold each being’s inherent rights and dignity as well as abiding by their own obligations and duties, requires the recognition and acknowledgement of that which is truly universal among humankind. Ideas, personal meanings and...

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