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What distinguishes human relationships from those of other creatures is not the capacity for affection, concern, or even altruism, but the ability to idealize these. This includes idealizing one’s own and the other’s being as personhood, and extending personal affection to a broader group of recipients of moral concern. Personhood is a fundamental category—both descriptive and normative. Like citizenship, the state of being a person has in principle no degrees or kinds or gender, though history is replete with incidents in which whole groups of people are denied this status. Since the human world is composed of people, personhood is its obvious first principle. The concept of personhood, or humanity, is a category that idealizes certain animate objects by imputing to them the interior life that is so utterly different from the objectness of inert things. Human relations understandably manifest the ambivalence and confusion troubling subjective consciousness around the dualism of subject and object. The fact that people are both subject and object is the bane of history as well as of philosophy. Mind-body dualism is an ongoing political catastrophe as well as a mental recreation for mild-mannered scholars.

RELATED TAGS: [(ideal/concept of)personhood, human environment, concept of humanity, self/subject is no object, self as subject and object, mind-body problem/dualism, dualism of subject and object, subject-object dualism/duality, objectness altruism, ideal(ization)/denial of personhood, personhood has no degrees, extending moral concern, ingrouping, outgrouping, categorical imperative, we/them, human unity]

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