Monday, May 29, 2006

Study Notes For Midterm

Here are my study notes for my Philosophy of the Human Person midterm tomorrow:

1) What kind of a definition is man is a rational animal?

Man is a rational animal is a species-genus definition.

Explain how this definition works.

It works by describing something by it’s species and it’s genus. You first find out the genus. Animal would be the genus. Then find out what the species is in the genus. The man is a species of genus. There must be a species defining characteristic for the man. Rational would be the species defining characteristic.

What is meant by species defining characteristic?

By species defining characteristic, we mean the one characteristic that a species within the genus has that no other species within that genus possesses.

Can beings outside the genus have the species defining characteristic?


2) Explain as fully as you can what we call the ‘pet problem.’

The pet problem stems from coming up with a species defining characteristic. Pet lovers will insist that in some way their animal can do whatever a human does. Take rational as the defining characteristic for man. First we must say what we define rational to be. If we say it’s the ability to have language or free choice, then someone will say that apes and cats can communicate and it surely seems like they have free choice.. No matter what we say rational means, someone will say that there pet has it.

3) If someone accepts the definition that man is a rational animal, why must he hold that the difference between a rock and an ape is greater than the difference between an ape and a human being?

Because an ape and a human being are both members of the same genus:Animal, whereas a rock and an ape belong to two totally different classifications. So the greater difference would have to be with an ape and a rock.

Explain the points I made if they instead hold that rationality is sufficient to make the difference between an ape and a human being greater.

What makes a human person an animal in the first place? Every human is a person, but not every person is a human being. God is three persons. Angels and God are not animals (they have no bodies.) Thus, a person cannot be connected to animals. If rationality is connected to Person, one must say that Humans have something other animals don’t, yet God and Angels have. That would bring God and Angels to the level of mere animals. We are not so certain that rationality is only exclusive in humans. You don’t get a Person by taking an animal and adding rationality!

Man is not a rational animal. Man is an incarnate spirit.

4) Explain as fully as you can what intentionality is.

First of all intentionality has nothing to do with someone intending to do something. Intentionality is simply the subject and object relationships that occur in the consciousness of human beings. Husserl added to the definition by stating that subject/object relationships could only exist in acts that are meaningful and rational. In order for an act to be intentional one must be aware of it. Seeing a tree, remembering what I did yesterday, and despising something are all intentional. Love, hate, and sorrow are all intentions (their presence in my mind is a subject/object relationship).

How is it related to the notion of subjectivity?

Subjectivity is the activity of the "I" as a subject that does the things that "I"’s do. What a subject does is its subjectivity. For something to exist as an object, the subject must first be aware of it. With the awareness of the object the act of the awareness by the subject makes the act intentional.

What is the difference between an intentional act and a conscious state?

An example of a conscious state would be dizziness. A person knows that they are dizzy, but they dizziness is not an act. A person can’t dizzy something. An intentional act would be to hate. If you hate someone, there must be someone for you to hate and you must be aware that you hate that someone.

By my explanation of intentionality are animals capable of intentional acts?

No, because animals are not subjects. They do not have self-consciousness. In order to have self-consciousness you must have a self. Only beings with a self can be a subject.

5) Explain what I said a self is.

Self- is what I understand myself to be. It is the "I" or "me" I have always known myself to be. The self is unchangeable. The "I" is constant while everything around it changes (body, memories, etc.). The central part of being a person is being an "I". Each "I" is distinctly different from every other "I". There can only be one "me". All non-persons lack an "I".

Why by this explanation would animals not have self-consciousness?

Because an animal does not have a self to be conscious of. An Ape has not an "I", therefore an ape cannot be a subject. So if an ape looks at a person, the person is not the object that the ape sees because an ape doesn’t understand itself as a subject. An ape can’t say "I see" as in an object. Only persons have a self because only persons are "I"’s.

6) What do the notions of self and intentionality have to do with the notion of a person?

To be a person is to be an "I". A person is a subject. "I"’s do something. We act as persons. We engage in subject/object relationships.

Reasoning: can’t be a part of rationality because God and Angels can’t reason. Reasoning is distinctly a human trait.

Persons (Human, God, Angels) are rational.

Reasoning is not a part of rationality.

I also have a final exam on Friday. Gotta love mini summer sessions where they cram 14 weeks into 2 1/2 !

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