Essay on A Philosophy of the Impersonal

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For a Philosophy of the Impersonal 1. Never more than today is the notion of person the unavoidable reference for all discourses, be they philosophical, political, or juridical in nature, that assert the value of human life as such. Leaving aside differences in ideology as well as specifically staked-out theoretical positions, no one doubts the relevance of the category of person or challenges it as the unexamined and incontrovertible presupposition of every possible perspective. This tacit convergence with regard to the category of person is especially obvious in a hotly debated field like bioethics. Truth be told, the debate between Catholics and secularists turns on the precise moment at which a living being can be considered a…show more content…
This thesis, which appears most frequently in the recent work of Stefano Rodotà (S. Rodotà, 2006) and Luigi Ferrajoli (L. Ferrajoli, 2001), is that the renewed value awarded the category of person lies in the fact that only it is able to bridge the difference that is established between the concept of man and that of citizen, one formed at the very inception of the Modern State. This difference-- as Hannah Arendt argued in the immediate postwar period (H. Arendt, 1996) -- is born from the exclusive attachment to nation or territory (particolaristico) that characterizes the category of citizen, where citizen is understood as a member of a given national community and therefore not to be extended to every man as such. The idea was that only a concept that was potentially universal, like person, would allow for the strengthening and expanding of the fundamental rights of every human being. It's here then that we find the calls made over a vast cultural front, to move away from the limited notion of citizen (or individual) to the more general one of person -- as Martha Nussbaum has recently argued (M. Nussbaum, 2002). It is a formulation that a large part of contemporary philosophy has accepted in different guises. Turning to more theoretical work, one finds the same movement of ideas. Reflections on personal identity -- and hence the renewed interest in the category of person -- constitute one of the rare points of
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