Tuesday, April 9 at 4:30pm
Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, 158
257 Columbia Avenue, Holland, MI 49423-3692
The Demise of Personalism, the Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, and the Prospects for Turning the Tide: a Plea for Analytic Personalism”
At the turn of the twentieth century, the philosophy of personalism aimed to orient philosophical practice around a robust conception of personhood which not only grounded belief in human dignity, but also encouraged a corresponding commitment to constructive moral and social engagement. By mid-century, personalism had become a powerful force for good in the world, having exercised a profound influence on the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well the Civil Rights movement in the United States(Martin Luther King, Jr. was an adherent). But just as personalism was bearing fruit in the real world, it was driven to the margins of academe by the rise of analytic philosophy. From its eariest stages, mainstream analytic thought has tended to deflate personhood, rendering it powerless to ground human dignity and guide the moral life. This is one of several ways in which it has contributed to what Dallas Willard has called "the disappearance of moral knowledge." However, by the turn of the twenty-first century there had emerged within the analytic tradition resources for reclaiming and indeed strengtheningsomething like the personalist’s concept of personhood. In this era of moral chaos, there is no more pressing task than to reclaim moral knowledge. The development of an “analytic personalism” which puts the sophistication of contemporary analytic metaphysics in the service of a personalistic concept of personhood, of philosophy, and of the moral life, could contribute substantially to this task.