Personality, Virtue and Vice

An examination
by Chris Hibbard

Personality, Virtue and Vice:
The difficult notion of Philosophical categorization

The definition of a Human is at it’s most simple; an individual member of the genetic species Homo Sapien, bipedal primates that are dominant sentient species on the planet Earth.

A Human Being however, is best seen as being an ‘independent’ human – one who longer must rely solely on the caregiving of others for its own survival.

A Person is different from these, in that it requires the capacities for rationality and self-control; a conscience in other words – required for a Person to be seen as a rational animal.

A Personality requires conciousness and the ability to have an individual outlook or point of view. A personality presupposes rationality and can be seen as a persona or mask through which the person presents him or herself. In this, a personality invokes the notion of ethics.

An Ideology elaborates on this aforementioned point of view; being the doctrines, opinions and ways of thinking for an individual and/or group of individuals. An ideology can be seen as a fairly comprehensive set of views of ideas concerned with political, spiritual, economic and social views of the world.

Potential Persons are those that, simply put, have the potential to become future persons. Best seen as a fetus or otherwise unborn human, provided that physiological development continues at a ‘normal’ pace, the unborn human is apt to become a full-fledged human being, human, until ideally, it is a person with a distinct personality. These potential persons are not yet actual persons and accordingly (and controversially to be sure) are not allotted the rights that most humans are said to share. (At least those is developed, modern societies.)

Following from Potential Persons are Developing Persons. Often seen as infants, toddlers and children; those younger than the age of so-called maturity in other words. These are persons in which the personality is still forming, with ethics still being adopted, fostered, and instilled. Developing persons may also be taken to include those persons for whom development has been stunted or delayed. To these, the learning process is ongoing but is a slower process than in their peers.

Has-Been Persons may be seen as full-fledged adult persons for whom something has gone wrong, rendering them less mature than they were previously. Best illustrated through examples such as persons who have suffered debilitating strokes, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease or acute brain trauma, these are persons for whom the world as they knew it has changed, leaving them in a lesser-stage, somewhere between a developing person and a person complete with the required personality. To a lesser extent, Has-Been Persons could include prisoners, patients, and other wards of the state who have been observed in action only to have certain ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ as persons stripped away from them, a consequence deemed fair and necessary by a court of law, in order to prevent this one person from further interfering in the rights and freedoms of the majority.

If one considers Embodiment to be the way in which human psychology arises from the physiolofy of the brain-body connection, there is the suggestion that the workings of (and appearance of) the body has become integral to individual identity, thereby setting the foundation for social and cultural constructions based upon notions of similarity and difference. Embodiment as an idea creates a connections between worlds of substance and spirit, as opposed to more antiquated notions of separation or mind-body duality.

Disembodiment then, is the foundation for the creation of fictional characters, multi-faceted personas (i.e. public vs. private; screen name vs. given name, etc.) deities, spirits and other non-natural constructs. For example, James Bond is not a human and not a human being, but he can be viewed as a person, even though he is not real except on paper and film. This is because he embodies human personality traits without being human at all. This idea of non-human persons applies to the many deities worshipped and beleived in around the world, as well as extraterrestrial entities, and even so far as to certain animals that behave with uncannily human awareness. This notion of non-human persons applies to faith in constructs that can never be scientifically proven or disproven, one way or the other.


~ by Chris Hibbard on November 24, 2008.

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