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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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Recent developments in both the natural and social sciences have empowered humanity, in terms of material wellbeing, as well as intellectual and conceptual capacities, yet, despite the broad global ethical consensus and humankind’s highly developed innate faculties of reason and consciousness, there seems to be a significant discrepancy between how one ought to be and how one behaves. Indeed, confronted with the consistent tension between one’s aspiration to moral ideals stemming from one’s ethical impulses on the one hand, and one’s predisposition towards gratifying one’s egoistic desires on the other, humanity stands to cultivate its ethical impulses and develop its moral virtues, or repress the very same and adopt an egoistic perspective that is rooted in a lack of moral concern and disregard of the dignity of human persons. For this reason, when faced with conflicting emotions and impulses arising from within this human embodiment of a causal character that can influence and yet at the same time be influenced, educating for ethical literacy can be deemed justifiable as a morally necessary means to the obligatory end that is the human flourishing which is inseparable from a state of moral perfection. In other words, since there is a tension within each human being between harmful impulses, systematically opposed to true ethical values, on the one hand, and the voice of conscience, transcendent will and reason, fostering values such as altruism, on the other, educating for ethical literacy can be instrumental in paving the way towards self-transformation and self-realisation,...

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