Understanding the Concept of Personhood Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1842 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

A "person" or "self" can be termed as an intriguing concept which has remained a confusing topic social sciences - that is, philosophical research. Interactions and relationships among persons/self, mind, body, and sociality could be predetermined as universal, yet cultural concerns which transform or evolve over a period - although these significant categories seem to differ between diverse cultures. A human being might as well be regarded as a dynamic process, rather than a static or reified 'attribute.' Nonetheless, people interact with one another beyond mutual relationships thereby, depicting their generous nature. The essay seeks to explain the mechanistic ideologies that encompass human beings in comparison to the factors that personify a human as a creature that pursues more than just a regular flow of events, either social or cultural. The latter is a complicated, yet highly knowledgeable, being that strives to understand more about itself and its fundamental purpose in life.

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The possession of metaphysical traits can be a fundamental aspect of moral personhood - exercising moral rights and moral status - as explained by philosophers throughout history. Personhood can be referred to as a relational concept; one that seeks to define experiences among human beings in a society in conjunction with their consciousness. Furthermore, all living beings display their reaction towards avoiding agony, but, at the very least, yearning for survival. A civilized society needs to develop and justify its legal restrictions and choices when faced with conflicting interests. Throughout the essay, the term "personhood" is used to refer to a being that has a significant moral standing or status. An individual that can resolve their interests without affecting the environment of its counterparts. Additionally, the concept of free will depicts a being that has the capability of making decisions without any outside influence to achieve its desires.

Human beings can be classified as the most complicated living species across the vast galaxies. The efforts bestowed towards understanding oneself revolves around an intertwined and significantly sophisticated environment filled with assumptions or speculations concerning human beings and their ultimate potential. Furthermore, human beings became more relentless in argument and entangled in critical details on matters, instead aspects, which define one as "human." However, this understanding can only be achieved if research considers the most basic of characteristics that people portray - such as survival, a component that seems to be the driving force of all other human-related features. The complicated aspect becomes evident when a keen critic looks at the primitive instincts of humans, inclusive of their means for survival, apparent gender differences, the purpose for living in groups such as societies, and how human beings settle their notable differences - religion, race, culture, and gender.

Human relationship is unique and quite distinctive as compared to that of other co-existing organisms, not only for its concern, altruism, and affection but also the capability to actualize these behavioral elements. Personhood can be referred to as humanity as well, whereby, an individual values the life of another being and appreciates their existence through mutual interaction - that is emotional, physical and social bond (Russell, 102). Also, through the human social order, personhood develops two crucial, yet competing criteria; a relational construct whereby personhood can be defined as a societally-defined state of value, and existential construct which explains personhood as the actual state of existing and relating with human beings. Through the above stated, yet respective criteria, personhood becomes peculiarly correlated with interpersonal and individual contexts.

The interpersonal context establishes that humanity goes beyond what people perceive as freedoms and human rights - neither is it a societal creation nor one that can be removed or altered through human agreements. For the individual context, humanity might be hypothesized as a conspicuously human state - intrinsic to the life of an individual - within the earth (the "natural order"). The Christian perspective on humanity tends to adopt the existential criteria whereby, it depicts the nature of a person as metaphysical and one which contains physical, but supernatural related, beliefs. Christianism, as a domain, develops the concept that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God - thus, describing the transcendent attributes of humanity. Furthermore, the secular mind not only adopts this concept but also stipulates that tolerance surpasses the worldly realm - a human soul goes beyond the natural world once a person dies. Therefore, humanity as a divine entity - one which supersedes realms - needs to be respected without the necessary conditions such as 'citizenship' which advocate for the protection of another person's life.

Personhood, as a concept, adopts the theoretical aspects of "free will" and moral responsibility. McKenna, (97), expounds further by stating how free will, as much as it displays its cohesiveness with moral obligation, touches on the freedom given to humanity in determining its next course of action. The concept of moral responsibility has been in existence for ages and undergone numerous accounts of research, inclusive of contemporary philosophy, in a bid to understand personhood. Moreover, the world - one which can be defined as a multifaceted environment - through setting up institutions has been forced to adopt and abide by the laws of nature formulated to inform, govern, and infringe humanity. About religious writings, humanity should be preserved but not necessarily be used as a tool of governance or one which predetermines whether a particular individual deserved to see the next light of day.

Touching on free will, well, humanity seems to accept that an individual should adopt their way of thinking. However, it disputes this aspect by developing measures to be adhered to. This, in some way, conflicts with the understanding of free will. An individual has the right to undertake whatever he/she finds fit, but this has to be controlled by existing legal regulations - this raises the question as to how determinism conflicts with free will. Case example, it might be unfair to pose judgment to an individual who has murdered by free will, but due to the concept of determinism, one can stipulate that his/her cause of action conflicted with moral responsibility, for example, respecting the actual existence of another individual within your realm. Philosophers tend to ascertain that moral responsibility closely relates to free will. However, this might not be the case. Each concept has its distinct deliverables which tend to affect the persona of an individual and further, yet uniquely, alter their next course of action.

Human beings tend to complicate theoretical concepts that might take eons of deliberation to come to a conclusive decision, preferably, an established path to follow. Humanity, as it exists nowadays, contains individuals with diverse approaches to the magnificence of life. Some individuals believe that free will and determinism should not be adopted thus referred to as incompatibilists. Furthermore, those individuals who dispose of free will yet accept determinism are related to as determinists (this group tends to believe that their moral choices should be based on prior actions). Individuals who claim that determinism as just a theory (a 'falsehood') but adopt the concept of free will are identified as libertarians. Nonetheless, some individuals firmly believe in the compatibility of both free will and determinism thus referred to as compatibilists. Understanding these diverse human aspects proves to be fundamental as it creates the complexity of rational thinking and how each approach correlates and affects one another.

Further complexities in humanity become depicted when a human being has to deal with their conscience - a psychological attribute existent in the human mind. Free will could be argued as an expression of consciousness. Therefore, it would be absurd for an individual to state that free will does not exist. Conscience can be claimed to be a derivative of free will. However, an individual has to in command of his/her actions. Being conscious means, one has to be psychologically and emotionally aware of their environment and how their actions might impact their respective existence. Philosophers still assume that consciousness has yet to be critically analyzed to understand its perception and how it works. The fact remains that free will exists as a driving force that ensures our next action is deliberate - an act which was done out of sheer intention.

Understanding personhood, about the sophisticated setting that humanity has poised on itself, might prove to be a daunting affair. Human beings remain to be various complexities despite the never-ending research that seeks to understand humanity/personhood. The fact that personhood is fundamental becomes nullified when certain individuals perceive that they hold the keys to peace and stability over the mechanisms that control the earth. This means that people tend to idolize themselves and place their 'theoretical' needs above those of the "common" man - a concept that makes no sense within a reality that seeks to promote fairness and justice to all in existence. Free will could be established, for example through electing a leader, but once he/she attains the much sought for the public seat, the person tends to neglect and oppress the same individuals who gave him the power. This creates the complex thinking which "us" as human beings convey in a world filled with twists and turns that affect both the psychological and emotional well-being of individuals.

Personhood can closely be intertwined with autonomy whereby an individual has the right to make a decision that supersedes any form of interference. The society needs to respect freedom by respecting the actions of all individuals. This practice creates the impression of appreciation and people's actions are not seen as having no effects, either direct or indirect, on another person. Therefore, a person should exercise their free will without infringing the personal capacity of another societal member. Moreover, people should not misuse their 'freedom' to mislead others in a manner that deprives them the ability to act or make decisions, or, in a way that overrides their personal choices. In case a human being fails to practice the art of autonomy, then they might have to be disregarded as advocates of humanity. Furthermore, such individuals should be considered as those who fail to acknowledge moral responsibility in a society encompassed by several behavioral traits.

Philosophy has a tradition that describes personhood as a concept that establishes normative aspects, about capacities of human beings and their social well-being. This means that understanding the nature of humanity/personhood does not necessarily describe how people are, but it focuses on how individuals ought to exist in a society. Therefore, autonomy needs to be highly considered as a fundamental attribute of personhood. Additionally, the individual capacities tend to define the normative and moral demands concerned with how individuals relate and treat each other. A person can be considered autonomous if he/she can take charge of their life and 'shape' out of their own free will to achieve a specific objective or goal.


In conclusion, personhood, as depicted by humanity, is a foundational concept which explains our real identity and purpose. Throughout the millennia, personhood was established as a fundamental topic that needs critic for fu...

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