The Societal Crisis and The Human Dignity: Epistemological View
Keywords:dignity, individual, essentialist and relational views, oikeiosis, joy of life, universalism, particularistic view, intellectuals
The paper aims at emphasising the significances of the concept of dignity through the lens of the relational character of this concept. Even though it appeared in modernity as substantive/essence, as an autonomous state that might be attached to man – and it was developed in the frame of methodological individualism –, dignity is a construct depending on the historical and social relations, thus the culture and values dominant in a certain time. And, because the consideration of the others is assumed by the individual who internalises the intertwining and force of values in the way he seems to not detach his own being from dignity, the paper demonstrates that, although there is an ontological basis of dignity – the human conatus – the concept of dignity is incomprehensible without connect it to, or more, without integrating it within the social complex.
First of all, the individual translation of the human conatus in the concept of dignity supposes the social character of man. The instruments of the individual, necessary for his survival, are social. The language through which he expresses his self-consciousness as his own dignity is social. The nuances his self-consciousness transposes as feelings and their expressions are borrowed from the culture known by the individual.
But leaving this alone, and considering as a beginning of the analysis only the individual’s feeling of dignity as transposition of his/her will to live, this feeling is vague, ineffable and evanescent if it would not have the positive or negative reactions of society towards it. Indeed, society is the ultimate criterion of the individual consciousness of dignity, because it accredits this individual feeling. If, by absurd, there was no society – or the individual would live in an individual niche and would not know anything about society (but, for the sake of our philosophical experiment, he could express through meaningful words his feelings) – the individual would not be sure that he has a constitutive dignity and he deserves dignity. Only the others authorise this feeling, whether they endorse it or not, having the function of a thermometer measuring the individual belief.
Methodological individualism is contradictory concerning the concept of dignity: on the one hand, it lauds to sky this concept (in its essentialist variant) as related to the individual, and on the other hand, it neglects the consequences of social relations over the real state of dignity of all the human beings.
Finally, the paper links this relational standpoint to both the surpassing of the abstract individual and the clash of universalistic and particularistic values.
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