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Persons in a World of Things

Persons in a World of Things

(p.21) Chapter 1 Persons in a World of Things
Human Nature & Jewish Thought
Alan L. Mittleman
Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the reality of persons in a world of things. It begins and ends with some relevant views drawn from the Jewish philosophers Buber (1878–1965), Heschel (1907–72), and Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–93). Framed by the Jewish concerns, it turns to a philosophical exploration of human personhood. The chapter begins by consiering Sellars's classic essay on the scientific and manifest images of “man-in-the-world.” Sellars shows how urgent and difficult it is to sustain a recognizable image of ourselves as persons in the face of scientism. With additional help from Nagel and Kant, it argues that persons cannot be conceptually scanted in a world of things. Notwithstanding the explanatory power of science, there is more to life than explanation. Explanation of what we are needs supplementing by a conception of who we are, how we should live, and why we matter. Those are questions to which Jewish sources can speak.

Keywords:   human nature, Jewish philosophy, Jewish philosophers, Buber, Heschel, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Sellars

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