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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 7: The Life and Thought of Nur Ali Elahi (Ostad Elahi)


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The Life and Thought of Nur Ali Elahi (Ostad Elahi)

The theme that runs through these chapters has thus far broadly explicated three influential paradigms of the model of the self within the historical trajectory of the concept and in attempting to distinguish their conceptual consequences has highlighted their contribution to the postmodern humanist understanding of the self experienced today. We have considered the influential theories of these past thinkers, whose concepts of the disengaged individualistic self, the sense-content illusory self and the drive-driven fragmented self have contributed to the prevalent ambiguity around the notion of the self in terms of relationality, continuity in time and depth; however, an integrated theory of the self constitutive of all its dimensions still remains to be elucidated. For, the notion of ethical literacy, as a moral empowerment that enables individuals to understand, analyse, reflect and practise that which makes them humane, postulates a holistic understanding of what it means to be a human self, regardless of time, place and culture, which in turn elicits a delineation of the topology of the self in terms of its physical, psychological and spiritual constitution. From this perspective, since the cultivation of ethical literacy, which elicits questions about agency, freedom, morality, rights and responsibilities, is contingent upon the notion of the self as an ontological reality, which, as a subject and an object of value, is at the root of one’s moral identity, then, to embrace ethical literacy...

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