Two very different views of persons permeate our thinking. On the one hand, we are impressed by the many social influences that affect us all. On the other hand, we also demand autonomy and individual rights. We have, at present, no suitable vocabulary for giving their due both to our social nature and to the ways in which we are distinct from one another.In this ambitious and original book, Richard Schmitt criticizes the assumption that human beings are separate from one another-an assumption that underlies much of mainstream Anglo-American philosophy. Instead he proposes, following two decades of work by feminist theorists, that we consider ourselves as being-in-relation. A large part of the book is dedicated to clarifying these two competing views of persons. In the course of this effort the author examines different conceptions of autonomy, empathy, love, knowing, and power.From these discussions emerges a view of persons that illuminates the ways in which each of us is distinct from others and at the same time does justice to our participation in social networks. Schmitt shows that persons have considerable choice over whether to be separate or in-relation. The controversy between these two views is not primarily theoretical but about practice-specifically, political practice.
The Social Nature of Human Beings - Their Autonomy, Knowledge, and Power
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