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The Nature of Human Beings: East and West - Society for ...

The Nature of Human Beings: East and West - Society for ...

The Nature of Human Beings: East and West - Society for

The Nature of Human Beings: East and West J. L. Shaw The aim of this paper is to discuss the nature of human beings, both from the Western and the Eastern perspectives. The first chapter will deal with Western concepts of human being, beginning with Plato. Since we come across four views in Western philosophy, this chapter will be divided into four sections, dealing with the following views: a) rationality as the defining property of human beings; b) certain attitudes or experiences, such as caring, loving, etc., as the defining properties of human beings; c) theological concepts of human beings, and d) the existentialist concepts of human beings. The second chapter will deal with Indian concepts of human beings. Since the form of life of human beings cannot be described in terms of a particular character or property, I shall focus on the following six features, or dimensions, of human beings: a) the concept of ought and ought not; b) free will, presupposed by the concept of ought; c) the concept of infinity, or participation in both finite and infinite concepts; d) creativity, as well as suggestive meaning; e) the realisation of rasas, and f) liberation (moksa, nirvana) or freedom from bondage. Chapter One In this chapter I shall discuss four concepts of human beings from Western philosophy. Section One Traditionally, human beings are defined as rational animals. Hence, x is a human being if and only if x has rationality and animality. Since rationality is the distinctive feature of human beings, we have to explain this concept. Regarding the use of the term “reason,” it is said “a word used in many, various, often vague senses, with complex and sometimes obscure connections, one with another (A Dictionary of Philosophy, edited by Anthony Flew, p 300).” I think the following uses of this term may be mentioned: i) x has rationality if and only if x can apprehend universals which are eternal, non-spatial and non-temporal entities. This type of thesis we come across in the philosophy of Plato, as he has divided the human soul into three parts. The highest part of the soul is 1

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