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Phenomenology of the Human Person Paperback – May 12, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521717663 ISBN-10: 0521717663 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521717663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521717663
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This rich metaphysical text is heavy indebted to Aristotle and Husserl, but at the same time refreshing only novel in its approach to such traditional philosophical topics as language, truth, knowledge, and selves...Though challenging at time, this work is not to be missed by those hungering for new insight into some of the most traditional issues in philosophy. Summing up: Recommended."
- H. Storl, Choice

"In Phenomenology of the Human Person, Sokolowski, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, tackles an astonishing range of questions and resolves a number of intellectual confusions without sinking beneath the weight of conceptual complexity.
Claremont Review of Books, Robert Royal

Book Description

In this book Robert Sokolowski argues that being a person means to be involved with truth. He shows that human reason is established by syntactic composition in language, pictures, and actions and that we understand things when they are presented to us through syntax.

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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Mike Gosman on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Phenomenology of the Human Person, Professor Sokolowski seeks, "philosophically, to clarify what human [beings or] persons are." It seems to me that Sokolowski (and I choose the metaphor carefully) weaves his clarification chiefly out of five major threads. They are: "human language," "the doctrine of mental representations," "speakers," "listeners," and "the human conversation," I propose to comment briefly on each of the five. I begin with the first two.

Sokolowski discusses human language in terms of names and syntax. As he writes on page 167: names "present a thing as to be thoughtfully unfolded." The thing may be either an individual (proper noun, "John Smith") or a universal (common noun, "human being"), and the unfolding takes place by way of syntax, because syntax is the means we have contrived in order to be able to "say something about something." That is, syntax is the means by which we engage in predication. The doctrine of mental representations comes in two forms. In its "innocent" form, our thinking concerns, not things in the world, but the "copies" or "ideas" of them that, supposedly, we have in our minds. In its radicalized form, which is the form Hume gives it, our thinking concerns, not "copy-ideas," but "fictional ideas" that we first construct in our imagination, and then impose on "the world" conceived as "modern science" conceives it, which is, as composed of nothing but matter or body "moving" in conformity with "natural laws." Hume's contention, then, is that, without these "fictions" (e.g., the fiction of "substantial identity"), we would literally have no "things" about which to think. Hence, Hume would have us regard ourselves as, essentially, constructors and deconstructors of fictions.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael on May 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work is an extended reflection on the activity of being a human person. Typically, human refers to a natural kind, while person transcends any natural category. The classical reference is Mr. Spock, from the earliest versions of Star Trek. There we see a non-human person interacting, sometimes successfully with humans and sometimes not.

But to get to the core of the text: To be a person is to be animated by concerns with truth. This is the thesis of the noted author. And why shouldn't this be the best available way of approaching the meaning of personhood: we are inescapably involved in matters of truth and falsity.

I have always found Sokolowski's reflections cautious, analytically precise, and balanced. It is a rewarding read for those of us who which to know why being a person is a full time job, possibly the only truly serious full time job.
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