In this book, John M. Rist offers an account of the concept of 'person' as it has developed in the West, and how it has become alien in a post-Christian culture. He begins by identifying the 'mainline tradition' about persons as it evolved from the time of Plato to the High Middle Ages, then turns to successive attacks on it in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, then proceeds to the 'five ways' in which the tradition was savaged or distorted in the nineteenth century and beyond. He concludes by considering whether ideas from contemporary philosophical movements, those that combine a closer analysis of human nature with a more traditional metaphysical background, may enable the tradition to be restored. A timely book on a theme of universal significance, Rist ponders whether we persons matter, and how we have reached a position where we are not sure whether we do.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Number of pages: 294
Weight: 560 g
Dimensions: 234 x 160 x 20 mm
'John M. Rist describes how the 'mainline' understanding of the human person arose, how it became shaken in early modern thinking, and finally shattered in the suspicions of the nineteenth and the nihilism of the twentieth centuries. Using Heidegger as a foil and Edith Stein as a resource, he shows how the mainline tradition can be reaffirmed and even enhanced by its history; he argues that we can do better than 'the ethics of wishful thinking', which some might see as the only option available now. His book is a major contribution to both cultural and philosophical understanding.' Robert Sokolowski, Elizabeth Breckenridge Caldwell Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University of America
'Few issues in philosophy are more urgent and enigmatic than the concept of a 'person'. Eminent Platonic scholar and trenchant moralist, John M. Rist weighs in on the question with characteristic verve and formidable learning. The elegant sweep of his vision of the 'Mainline Tradition', and its critique and evolution since the Enlightenment, is remarkable, while the polemical and constructive thrust of his own arguments is arresting.' Douglas Hedley, University of Cambridge
'Deeply entrenched in the Catholic-Christian tradition, this investigation offers a provocative account of the concept 'person' from Plato to the present.' H. Storl, Choice