In December of 2018, several scholars met at Oxford to discuss what it means to “be a person.” The conference featured international perspectives from five participants all of whom reflected on contemporary discourses and technological advancements that have destabilized traditional definitions of human being, human dignity, and personhood. Drawing from a range of modern, premodern, and more recent thinking on the subject, the scholars in question formed theological and philosophical arguments for an historically aware and thus integrated and complex notion of the human person in this age of rapid scientific and technological change. See the descriptions and videos below for their takes on “being human-being a person.”
Project Director Jens Zimmermann reflects on the recent year and looks toward the future of the Christian Flourishing project. The purpose of the first year was to define an underlying theory of the human person. With this in mind, Zimmermann codifies the various insights from our several scholars into a coherent summary of the first year, before moving on to the project’s vision for 2018.
Delivered recently at Durham to the scholars of the Christian Flourishing project, in this lecture Dr. Bishop explores how technological innovation shapes human perception of time, life, death, and meaning. In the “technological imaginary,” of which modern medicine is constituent, ageing and death seemingly may be infinitely deferred, and it is this innovating deferral that shapes the contemporary social imaginary around ageing and death in modern medicine.
This post traces the history of human nature and then relates this nature to the concept of “mind uploading.” Doede asks: “How did we get to the point where we can realistically entertain the notion of engineering the uploading of human identities onto inorganic digital platforms, especially given the prevailing evolutionary and physicalist ideological climate characteristic of contemporary western thought?” He argues that mind uploading is not our common destiny, and not even a coherent concept.
Jens Zimmermann has been awarded a British Academy Visiting Fellowship and will be conducting research in the faculty of theology and religion at Oxford University, Christ Church College, in collaboration with Graham Ward, from August 1, 2018 to February 1, 2019. Over the course of this project, Zimmermann intends to sketch the historical development and substantive contours of a theological conception of personhood and bring this description of ‘who we are’ to bear on pressing technological and social issues.
In this interview at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Father John Behr discusses the implications of a theology of joy for our living today. Indeed, joy, for Behr, is ultimately joy of life, the joy of being alive, a comprehensive intellectual, physical, psychical, and spiritual mode of being. As such, joy is much more than a matter of acquisition; it requires a work of cultivation.
With a background in the applied health sciences and as a theologian in bioethics and the medical humanities, Dr. Ashley John Moyse approaches the topic of his lecture, the art of living for the technological age, from the perspective of our incarnated human being. For Moyse, it is vital that we approach our being as more than dead flesh waiting to be animated, but as soul spoken in bodily form.