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Manual John Macmurrays Religious Philosophy: What it Means to be a Person

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Front Matter Pages i-xii. Introduction: Why Care About Schools? Pages Schools as Communities. Learning in Dialogue. Personhood and Personalism in School. Pedagogy, Research, and Being a Curious Teacher.

John Macmurrays Religious Philosophy: What It Means to Be a Person Esther McIntosh

School Leadership: Caute in the Middle. It seems to me that they are unconsciously? Thus, consciousness is a term used to talk about what it is that distinguishes us from other animals.


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Colin McGinn, quoted by Mary Midgley, goes back and forth across the boundary of the two meanings. Do animals have minds?

The fog of confusion has been thickened rather than dispersed. Mary Midgley rightly says that we should re-state the problem. At this point, I would like to bring in the thinker I have found to be the most helpful, namely John Macmurray. He rejected mind-body dualism, which he said was, among other problems, completely unable to make sense of the organic world.

Instead, he distinguished three aspects of the reality which we know, namely matter, life and personality the last understood to mean a universal characteristic, not a particular individual. Some of the things we encounter lack both life and personality and we call them objects.

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Others are alive and we call them organisms both animals and plants. We ourselves have all three aspects and are properly called persons, not bodies and minds, or bodies and souls. By the by, this classification works even if it should turn out that chimpanzees or dolphins are also persons. He spends the majority of his immense philosophical effort in exploring the realm of the personal, which includes all that we do, especially history, art, religion, politics and education.

It was a radical step which few have followed, perhaps some Existentialists but none with his range of systematic thinking.

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Consciousness, as an adjunct to action conscious action makes sense and gives consciousness a concrete meaning which accords with our actual experience. We know what it is like occasionally to do things without consciousness, when we are distracted or overwhelmed with strong emotion.


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