“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:
PART 1: Preface and General Introduction
PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
PART 3: Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
PART 5: Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Its author is ROBERT HANNA:
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
3. From Biology to Agency
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
CHAPTER 6 Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
Section 6.0 Introduction
Beings the existence of which rests not on our will but on nature, if they are beings without reason, still have only a relative worth, as means, and are therefore called things, whereas rational beings are called persons, because their nature already marks them out as an end in itself, that is, something that may not be used merely as a means, and hence so far limits choice (and is an object of respect)…. If, then, there is to be a supreme practical principle, and, with respect to the human will, a categorical imperative, it must be one such that, from the representation of what is necessarily an end for everyone because it is an end in itself, it constitutes an objective principle of the will and thus can serve as a universal practical law. The ground of this principle is: rational nature exists as an end in itself.
–I. Kant (GMM 4: 428-429)
It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creatures is to be found in the structure of a person’s will.
The Biological Approach is the view that you and I are human animals, and that no sort of psychological continuity is either necessary or sufficient for a human animal to persist through time.
Section 6.0 Introduction
In this chapter and the final one, I want to work out the real metaphysics of specifically real persons—as opposed to logically, conceivably, analytically, or “weakly metaphysically” possible persons that are non-animals, disembodied, or even divine, on the one hand, and also as opposed, on the other hand, to
either (i) actual artificial persons, created by human convention, like public personae (for example, Cary Grant, or Mark Twain) and public offices (for example, The President of the USA, or The Prime Minister of Canada),[iii]
or (ii) actual collective persons, also created by human convention, such as legal bodies (for example, The Supreme Court of the USA, or The European Court of Human Rights), governments (for example, The US Senate, or The British House of Commons), and business corporations (for example, Amazon, Apple, Google, or Microsoft).
And I also want to work out this real metaphysics with special reference to real human persons, that is, with special reference to us, but also with a full acknowledgment of the fact that not necessarily all real persons are human.
(As before, from here on in, unless otherwise specified, and apart from a few places where I use the phrase “real metaphysics” for special emphasis, by using the term “metaphysics” I always mean real metaphysics in the contemporary Kantian anti-noumenal-realism, anti-Standard Picture, anti-scientific naturalism/X-Phi/second philosophy sense, that I spelled out in section 1.0.)
In order to undertake the metaphysics of real persons, however, it is crucial right from the start to distinguish carefully between:
(i) the metaphysics of real personhood,[iv] and
(ii) the metaphysics of real personal identity.[v]
The metaphysics of real personhood corresponds to the question, “what is the nature of a real person?” I will call this The “What-am-I?” Question. Once an answer to The “What-am-I?” Question has been determined, by means of identifying a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for membership in the relevant real personhood class or kind, then we can determine the class or kind of all actual and possible real persons. The metaphysical topic here is the essence of a kind. According to my view, in the long-winded version, real persons essentially are:
conscious, intentional, caring, 2D rational or sapient, far-from-equilibrium, spatiotemporally asymmetric, complex, self-organizing, finegrainedly normatively attuned thermodynamic systems, with non-mechanical, uncomputable, physically irreducible, yet also non-dualist and non-supervenient properties, whose choices and acts are inherently constrained, guided, and governed by self-legislated categorically normative logical and moral principles, and whose highest aim is the achievement of principled authenticity, at least partially or to some degree.
Again according to my view, but now in the short-winded version, real persons essentially are:
rational minded animals with freedom-in-life.
This metaphysics of real personhood constitutes the first part of the overall doctrine about real persons that I call Minded Animalism.
The metaphysics of real personal identity, by contrast, corresponds to the importantly distinct question, “which one of the real persons am I?” I will call this The “Who-am-I?” Question. Here we are looking for a necessary and sufficient criterion that singles out one and only one actual member of the class or kind of all actual and possible real persons, and determines her persistence over time. The metaphysical topic here is individuation under a kind, together with that individual’s temporal persistence. According to my view, a real person like you or me is identical to each and every proper part of her own complete, finite, and unique rational human life, and correspondingly also identical to her whole complete, finite, and unique rational human life.[vi] This life begins when an individual organism within a certain species—in our case, of course, the human species—becomes conscious or minded, continues through the eventual manifestation or realization of her capacities for minded animal free volition, and then rational animal free agency, and then ends with her permanent death.[vii] In section 7.2 below, I will characterize this fundamental fact about us more precisely and rigorously by arguing that our real human personal identity is a sub-species of the mereological relation of metonymous identity (namely, part-to-whole identity) between proper (spatio)temporal parts and their corresponding unified (spatio)temporal wholes. But in the meantime, it is sufficient to say that I am claiming that we are identical to each and all of the stages of our own complete, finite, and unique rational human animal lives.
My view on the metaphysics of real personal identity is a significant extension and strengthening of what Eric Olson calls The Biological Approach, or “Animalism,” to all and only rational minded animals, that is, conscious, intentional, caring, rational living organisms, whose mental lives are necessarily and completely neurobiologically embodied, and who are strictly identified with each and all of the stages of their minded animal lives. Standard Animalism identifies us with individual living human animals that only contingently have mental properties, including consciousness and perhaps also rationality, and that also possess these properties only during certain phases of their animal lives. By contrast, according to the view I am calling Minded Animalism, real human persons are identified with each and all of the stages of the lives of individual living conscious, intentional, caring, rational human animals who, by their very nature, necessarily have conscious minds that are essentially embodied.[viii] This substantive metaphysics of real personal identity, including its significant extension and strengthening of standard Animalism, constitutes the second part of Minded Animalism.
The basic distinction between the metaphysics of real personhood and the metaphysics of real personal identity also leads on directly to three other important preliminary points.
First, a correct answer to The “What-am-I?” (namely, real personhood) Question does not in and of itself yield a correct—or indeed any—answer to The “Who-am-I?” (namely, real personal identity) Question. The term “person” is a kind term or sortal term that is also normally associated with identity conditions for individual persons falling under that kind. But satisfying the conditions for belonging to a given kind (for example, water) does not in and of itself guarantee the satisfaction of identity conditions for individuals (for example, drops of water, lakes, rivers, or oceans) falling under that kind. So there is no necessary entailment from the metaphysics of real personhood to the metaphysics of real personal identity.
Second, a correct answer to The “Who-am-I?” (namely, real personal identity) Question presupposes a correct answer to The “What-am-I?” (namely, real personhood) Question, but not (as we just saw) conversely. As a matter of real metaphysics, it is presuppositionally necessary to determine the class or kind of all actual and possible real persons, prior to determining which individual one of them I am, and how I persist over time. But, again as a matter of real metaphysics, it is not presuppositionally necessary to determine just which individual one I am, within the class or kind of all actual and possible real persons, and how I persist over time, in order to determine the class or kind of all actual and possible real persons. Therefore, in order to give a correct real metaphysics of real personal identity, one must first provide a correct real metaphysics of real personhood. Trying to go the other way, either by inferring immediately from prima facie rational intuitions about personal identity to a metaphysical theory of real personhood, or by giving a free-floating metaphysics of real personal identity without also considering its necessary grounding in a real metaphysics of real personhood, merely begs the question.
It should also be stressed that by “prima facie rational intuitions about personal identity,” I am not talking about our ordinary, pre-reflectively conscious, deeply-held sense that we are real persons and can be strictly identified as persisting over time, by reference to the proper parts or the whole of our unique, finite, and essentially embodied lives.[ix] This ordinary pre-reflectively conscious sense of ourselves as being identified with our lives is every bit as deeply-held as the sense that we are free agents. Indeed, both senses are phenomenologically self-evident. Furthermore, the two senses flow into one another in a complementary way, and both belong to real metaphysics.
Third and finally, whereas the real metaphysics of real personhood is the real metaphysics of a kind or sort of entity, according to my view, the real metaphysics of real personal identity is the real metaphysics of each and all of the stages of the whole life-process of some individual member of that kind. More precisely, according to my view the real metaphysics of real personhood is the real metaphysics of a kind-constituting structure, whereas the real metaphysics of real personal identity is the real metaphysics of a necessarily diachronic entity, namely, a biophenomenologically dynamic and thermodynamic process—bearing the real personhood structure, to be sure, but not the same as the structure itself—that is inherently spread out and forward-directed in actual space and actual time. Real personal identity, as I am understanding it, necessarily comprehends an egocentrically-centered, essentially embodied, phenomenologically dynamic life-process of a conscious, intentional, caring, 2D rational living organism that is inherently living in an intrinsically directional or orientable space, while also “having the time of its life,” in such a way that this unified far-from-equilibrium, complex, self-organizing thermodynamic life-process necessarily also has temporal irreversibility. In other and fewer words, our real human personal identity, just like our minds and our free agency, is nothing more and nothing less than a form of life that grows naturally in our animal bodies. Or in still other and even fewer words, I am my life, for better or worse.
On this account, every real person’s life begins in a unique birth and ends in a unique death. That is, the life of every real person has a definite spatiotemporal beginning or birthplace and time of birth, and also a definite ending or death-place and time of death. Correspondingly, the real metaphysics of real personal identity is the real metaphysics of a special kind of real-personhood-structured spatially orientable and temporally asymmetric finite far-from-equilibrium, complex, self-organizing, finegrainedly normatively attuned, minded animal thermodynamic life-process, and not merely the real metaphysics of the kind-constituting real personhood structure alone. Hence I am nothing more and nothing less than the egocentrically-centered, spatially orientable, forward-directed Little Bang that is each and all of the stages of my own complete, finite, and unique rational human animal life. Each one of us is thereby special enough for all metaphysical, epistemological, normative, and moral purposes—but not so very, very special, after all. In particular, we are not ghostly souls, floating above the physical world. But neither are we essentially like the chair I am sitting on, or the laptop computer I am typing on. We are neither “something over and above the physical” (ghosts) nor “merely physical” (hunks of lifeless mechanical matter, or inert material, temporally-reversible, equilibrium thermodynamic processes, namely, natural automata). We are neither ghosts nor machines! Instead, we are living organisms, which means that we are fully natural and physical, yet “not so damned physical,” in the way that natural automata are, and more specifically, that we are rational human minded living organisms.
And the same same point generalizes smoothly beyond all rational human minded animals, to all rational minded animals or real persons whatsoever, of any species. It is deeply metaphysically important neither to inflate or overestimate ourselves, for example, via ontological dualism or speciesism, nor to deflate or underestimate ourselves, for example, via reductive or non-reductive physicalism and natural mechanism.[x] That way—forever suspended between the outer-alienating rock of ontological dualism/specieism (the ghost) and the inner-alienating hard place of physicalism/natural mechanism (the machine)—metaphysical madness lies. To recover and to preserve our metaphysical sanity, we must be able to see ourselves as we really are, namely, as rational minded “human, all too human” life-forms.
[iv] See, e.g., L. Baker, Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000); R. Chisholm, Person and Object (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1976); Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person”; H. Hudson, A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001); E.J. Lowe, Subjects of Experience (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996); E. Olson, What Are We? A Study in Personal Ontology (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007); P. Strawson, Individuals (London: Methuen, 1959), ch. 3; D. Wiggins, Sameness and Substance Oxford: Blackwell, 1980); K. Wilkes, Real People (Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford Univ. Press, 1988); and R. Wollheim, The Thread of Life (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984).
[v] See, e.g., J. Dancy (ed.), Reading Parfit (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997); R. Martin. and J. Barresi (eds.), Personal Identity, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003); H. Noonan, Personal Identity (2nd edn; London: Routledge, 2003); D. Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1984); J. Perry (ed.), Personal Identity (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1975); A. Rorty (ed.), The Identities of Persons (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1976); S. Shoemaker and R. Swinburne, Personal Identity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984); and P. Unger, Identity, Consciousness, and Value (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990).
[vi] See also Wollheim, The Thread of Life. Despite the many important parallels between Wollheim’s account and mine, there are also four important differences: first, although Wollheim very rightly (and brilliantly) employs a phenomenological method to establish his claims, he provides no background metaphysics of essential embodiment to vindicate his phenomenology of embodiment, whereas I do provide this; second, Wollheim’s background account of the underlying mentalistic structure and psychodynamics of the real person’s life is basically Freudian, whereas mine is basically Kantian and Existentialist; third, Wollheim does not explicitly connect his account with a metaphysics of free agency, whereas my account both constitutively presupposes and is essentially complementary to Natural Libertarianism; and fourth, while, like my account, Wollheim’s life-oriented, real person account is explicitly directed against the then-standard approaches, in the early 1980s, to the problem of personal identity—although it preceded Animalism, which was a metaphysical child of the 90s, and therefore does not mention it—I also use the life-oriented, real-person account to work out a new metaphysical approach to the identity issue, and correspondingly formulate a new criterion of personal identity.
[viii] Michelle Maiese, in Embodied Selves and Divided Minds (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), defends a view about the nature of selves that she also calls “Minded Animalism.” Obviously, as co-authors of Embodied Minds in Action, our views are not likely to be very dissimilar, and have indeed significantly mutually influenced one another. The principal difference between my version of Minded Animalism and hers, however, is that my conception of real persons closely tracks the capacity for 2D rationality, even if it is only lower-level/instrumental or minimal rationality, whereas she allows for persons/selves who are wholly non-rational. As to the crucial borderline case of the insane, my version of Minded Animalism says that those insane human minded animals who are permanently incapable of any degree of rationality, free will, or practical agency, are non-persons—although even the permanently, deeply insane do indeed retain “minimal selfhood,” in the sense that they are still individual conscious embodied subjects. By contrast, the temporarily, shallowly, or more generally curably insane are, precisely to the extent that their mental illnesses are temporary or shallow, and curable, also correspondingly and to that extent capable of rationality, also capable of free will and practical agency. Hence they are real persons. As Susan Wolf correctly points out in “Responsibility, Moral and Otherwise,” permanently or temporarily insane human beings can be deeply non-morally responsible for various free choices and acts, even if they are not deeply morally responsible for them. Indeed, there is a large range of cases in which human beings have free volition, and thus deep non-moral responsibility, like many non-human animals, but not free will or deep moral responsibility. See section 4.1 above.
[ix] This sense is particularly brillantly and even movingly conveyed by Wollheim’s Thread of Life, against a Freudian backdrop. Relatedly, although not in a Freudian framework, I will present a “Shakespearian” evidential/phenomenological argument for Minded Animalism, that I call The Ecce Homo Argument, in section 6.1 below.
[x] On the deflationary side, there are also skeptical and/or social constructivist views of persons and selves, that reject the real existence of persons or selves, or at least make persons and selves strongly supervenient on historically contingent social communities and sociocultural processes. As to the fully skeptical view, it is hard to see how this view could be rationally defended, without covertly presupposing a real person who is attempting to justify her beliefs by offering reasons for them, and therefore without rational self-contradiction or self-stultification. As to the strong supervenience view, I don’t deny that the concept of the person or self is significantly determined by historically contingent social communities and sociocultural processes. But since a real person or self is categorically more than the concept of a person or self, it is simply a non sequitur to infer from the social construction of concepts, to the social construction of the things described by those concepts.
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