Filosofía Inglés

Strengths and weaknesses of the emergent conception of the person



Autor: IF

From September 25th to 27th took place at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the final conference of the project “Science, Philosophy, and Theology. Latin American Perspectives“, from the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion (University of Oxford).

María Echevarría -research assistant of the Philosophy Institute- participated in such activity with a contributed paper entitled: “Aciertos y debilidades de la concepción emergentista de la persona” [Strengths and weaknesses of the emergent conception of the person].

Here you can read the abstract of the paper:

Maria EchevarriaSome attempts to explain what the person is and the particular place it occupies in the universe resort to the notion of emergency, according to which entities of higher levels are constituted by the interaction of entities of lower levels, but are not reduced to them . This kind of explanation seems to be able to overcome some difficulties of the physicalist reductionism, for which the only real thing is matter. In fact, physicalism does not account for the particular place of the person in the cosmos, but considers it a manifestation of matter, certainly very complex, but which would not represent anything ontological or qualitatively different. Therefore, this position does not consider man to be a special creature, but only more complex. From an emergentist perspective, as developed by Christian Smith (What is a person? 2010), the person is considered to emerge from certain human capacities, which in turn are emerging from the human body, particularly from the brain. Smith establishes a list of thirty human capacities that he considers “mediating” between the real human body and the real human person. He maintains that personhood does not consist in the sum of these capacities, but emerges from them. However, as he states, “the mechanisms of emergency can sometimes be a mystery” (Smith 2010, 43). That is, it would not be entirely clear how the person emerges from these capacities, how the human person is constituted. This paper will focus on the concept of emergency in relation to the notion of person, examining both its argumentative capacity against ontological reductionism and its possible difficulties.

Smith, Christian. 2010. What is a Person? Rethinking Humanity, Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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