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Epiphanies
Joakim Dahlqvist (M, 45)
Milan, IT
Immortal since Jan 26, 2007
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"Whatever you think I am, that is what I am not"
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    Frank Furedi - The Legacy of Humanism
    "The prevailing sense of diminished subjectivity is underwritten by a distinct code about the workings of human behaviour and personhood. Every culture provides a set of ideas and beliefs about the nature of human beings and what constitutes their personhood. Our ideas about what we can expect from one another, how we handle uncertainty and change, deal with adversity and pain and how we view history are underpinned by the particular account that a culture offers about personhood and the human potential.

    The defining feature of the current Western 21st-century version of personhood is its vulnerability. Although society still upholds the ideals of self-determination and autonomy the values associated with them are increasingly overridden by a more dominant message that stresses the quality of human weakness. The model of human vulnerability and powerlessness is transmitted through powerful ideas that call into question people’s capacity to assume a measure of control over their affairs. Social commentators regularly declare that we live in the era of the ‘death of the subject’, ‘the death of the author’, ‘decentred subject’, ‘end of history’ or ‘end of politics’. Such pessimistic accounts of the human potential inform both intellectual and cultural life in the West. They provide cultural legitimation for the downsizing human ambition.

    It is perverse that twenty-first century society, which relies so much on human ingenuity and science also encourages deference to Fate. At a time of widespread disenchantment with the record of humanity’s achievements, it is important to restore confidence in the capacity of people to reason and influence the course of events. This is a challenge that confronts everyone who upholds a human-centred orientation towards the world. This task may appear as a modest one compared to the grand visions of the past but in our anti-humanist pre-political era its realisation is a precondition for the restoration of a climate hospitable to politics.

    The reconstitution of the sense of agency and of historical thinking is the pre-requisite for the reengagement of the public with political life. That requires that we uphold humanity’s past achievements, including standards of excellence and civilised forms of behaviour and values. Far from representing a yearning for the good old days, overcoming our alienation from the legacy of human achievement helps us deal with the issues thrown up by change. It is through drawing on the achievements of the past that we can embrace change with enthusiasm.

    Promoting a consistent belief in human potential underpins progressive thought. A human-centred view of the world recognises that people can be destructive and that conflicts of interests can lead to devastating outcomes. However, the negative and sometimes horrific experiences of the past two centuries, up to and including the Holocaust, are not the price of progress, but of the lack of it. Contemporary problems are not the result of applying reason, science and knowledge, but of neglecting them and thwarting the human potential."

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    Fri, May 25, 2007  Permanent link

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