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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 3: Ethical Literacy and the Education of Emotions


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Ethical Literacy and the Education of Emotions

The key aspects to ethical literacy, based on the four main elements of knowledge, skills, virtue and application, can thus be effected through implementation of the following: a) knowledge and understanding of the fundamental ethical values, principles and theories; b) the ability to identify ethical dilemmas in human experiences, and understand the limitation placed by codes, cultures, traditions, beliefs and values that underpin those dilemmas; c) the skill of moral reasoning, which requires critical thinking and reflection; d) self-knowledge (awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses); e) cultivation of virtues; and f) the practice of held principles, values and virtues. However, the aforementioned various constitutive components that form the ensemble of an ethically literate person indicate that a significant weight should be given to the affective dimension of moral behaviour and education. This is because the interplay of emotions and feelings in influencing one’s moral stance and behaviour has as much significance as intelligence and reasoning, for it acts as the “impetus for moving from thought to action”.1 Moreover, considering that moral character relates to values and behaviour and that these both entail cognitions and emotions, then an ethically enriched education ought to provide powerful learning experiences that will not only develop one’s knowledge, skills and virtues, but also will help educate one’s emotions that are instrumental in the assimilation and the application of the said knowledge, skills and virtues.

Emotions are...

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