August is nearly over and the International Conference on Persons has come and gone for another year, or rather two years. In view of that, I thought I might share with you this review of the first ICP collection, one that James Beauregard and I put together in 2016, following the Boston conference. I do so, purely because the sun is shining, the birds are signing, and we all like to feel appreciated once in a while. Best of all, it has a foreword by one of the great American philosophers, and a very dear friend, Thomas O. Buford. I shall try to post that too, in the near future.
by John F. Hofbauer
Review: In the Sphere of the Personal: New Perspectives in the Philosophy of Persons (Edited by Simon Smith and James Beauregard)
Simon Smith and James Beauregard had the daunting task of editing and encapsulating the varied spectrum of divergent viewpoints that structure what could be loosely called the “philosophy of persons.” On the one hand, this book certainly relishes traditional understandings of personhood (e.g., Burgos), with all the consolations that a solid metaphysical grounding brings to these orthodox positions. On the other hand, the book does well not to flinch from confronting the brave new world of perspectives (e.g., Larrivee’s “Neuroethics and Impersonalism”) that have the potential to eradicate any normalized conception of “person” entirely. Here, coldly logical conclusions present themselves with frightening clarity and force: the supplantation of the human person with eugenically designed “enhanced” human specimens hearkens in the specter of an existence where basic human rights have no real metaphysical, epistemological, or ethical grounding in the transcendent.
For the record, Simon Smith’s and James Beauregard’s introduction is, by itself, worth the purchase price of this book. For it effectively polishes the fine art of balancing a comprehensive synopsis of the book’s contents, while, at the same time, providing a logically compelling critique of any reductionist viewpoints that might eventually lead one to a Socratic absurdity. The introduction, in an admirably nuanced fashion, bravely pounces upon the blatant, self-refuting, and ironic positions that utilize self-evident, personal capacities (powers) to impotently refute the very existence of these obvious powers, or of any distinguishable, personal experiences that persist over time.