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The 17th century natural sciences inspired a view of a person as representational

consciousness and strategic agency, an objective definition of a person, which remains a

powerful influence in modern culture. However, an alternative view also emerges in
modernity, that of the person as a subject of significance and a personal agent, in reaction
to the first views limitations.

The 17th natural sciences inspired a view of a person as representational

consciousness and strategic agency, an objective definition of a person, which
remains a powerful influence in modern culture.
A. There are two models or views of a person, the strategic model, and the
significance model. The first view came about from the 17th century
natural sciences. This view defines the person as a being who has the
capability to frame mental representations of things and responds and acts
on the basis of these representations. What do we mean by having the
capability to frame mental representations of things?
B. What we mean by capability to frame mental representations of things is
our minds ability to picture out things, events, and scenarios in our head.
In solving mathematical problems that utilize a set of equations, we have
these images or mental notes of these equations in our heads, we use these
equations to find a solution and arrive at an answer. We respond and act
based on these representations. In the given example of the math problem,
we respond to the problem because we have a mental representation of a
problem anything that we cannot define, or articulate, etc. Now we act
on this and we use our representations of equations that we have to solve
the problem, each equation may entail a different solution and it is up to
our rational thinking which decides which equation to use.
C. Thus, this ability to frame mental representations of things, and respond
and act on the basis of such representations gives us the capability to
strategize and plan. Therefore this view of a person accounts for the
persons strategic capability. How was this view of a person inspired by
the 17th century natural sciences?
D. The 17th century natural sciences was the beginning of modern science.
This is when the process of experimentation, and the idea of analysis
through empirical data began. The whole idea here was to be objective and
eschew oneself from human bias. We have the scientific method of Sir
Francis Bacon as the outline for a very objective procedure of studying
things. Scientists formulated laws that tell us what given conditions are
necessary to achieve primary data that is objective and measurable.
E. The first view aims to give an objective description of a person. It tries to
give an unbiased description of a person is by defining a person as a being
who can strategize and plan. Thus, this model entails a performance
criterion. We define a person based on how he acts and how he is able to
make ends meet. We see this today in how we apply for jobs in
organizations or companies. A bad interview means you cant really get
that job because you performed poorly, and the employers criteria for any
candidate for the job is one who should perform well in the interview.

F. This view of a person remains to be a very important influence in modern

culture because I think the objective view has led to astounding
developments in the natural sciences. Defining things objectively has led
us to various developments in the field of sciences and technology. A
concrete example would be the invention of digital visual technology
wherein everything is defined by a set of 1s and 0s. Data required for
scientific advancement is empirical and quantitative data. Also, this view
is a very important influence in modern culture because it is this view that
the social sciences and behavioral psychology roots itself into. The social
sciences aim to understand and predict humanitys behavior by rooting
itself into the whole idea of humans as rational beings. We see this in the
field of economics where one of the principal assumptions is actually that
human beings are rational beings. In behavioral psychology, man is
evaluated based solely on his reactions towards various stimuli. The fact
that this model is the basis for the natural sciences, the social sciences, and
psychology make it a very important influence in modern culture today.
Modern day jobs are mostly based on the rationality of humans. We
measure humans based on how they act, and if they are able to meet the
ends or the goals that they have set. When a person fails to do his job, he
fails to meet the ends, and thus he is reprimanded.
G. However this view of a person has its limitations. For one, it doesnt take
into account the various emotions playing within a person. It only takes
into account the objective side of a person by defining a person based on
his ability to perform and make ends meet, the performance criterion of
agency. It does not also put a distinction between a human, an animal, and
a machine. Animals also have the capacity to frame mental representations
of things to some extent, and with the rise in technology, we have built
machines that can act strategically on its own. So, if we take into
consideration only the first view, then what distinguishes humans from
animals is our ability to arrive at certain ends more effectively and
efficiently. Say for example looking for food. Animals look for food by
foraging in plants, or hunting preys. Humans came up with a way to have
a convenient way of producing food, we can have food in an instant, we
can preserve, we have made a permanent source for food. Thus, what
differentiates humans in this sense is that humans can meet the same ends
as animals more effectively. In this case, humans fill the empty stomach
more efficiently.
H. But this doesnt take into account the machines also. Some machines
nowadays are even more advanced than humans strategically. Some
modern machines have an automatic system that prevents the machine
from destruction, somewhat like a safety feature. Whereas humans dont
have such advanced safety features. Humans dont have a safety feature
against destruction, say a heart attack. If a heart attack comes, then it
comes. For machines, if a there is a bug, there are many programs to get
rid of that bug. So if this is the case, then what differentiates humans from
machines too?


I. This view doesnt also take into account things that are peculiarly unique
to humans such as desire, guilt, morality, passion, and other emotions. If
we define a person based on mere performance criterion, then we have
looked past the aspects in between. We are assuming that everything is
black and white no gray areas, no colors. This view doesnt also take
into account the idea of culture and language.
An alternative view also emerges in modernity, that is the person as a subject
of significance and a personal agent, in reaction to the first views limitations.
A. As a reaction to the limitations of the first view, arose the second view of a
person. A person is a being that responds and acts because things matter to
him, and thus it is significant, and therefore he acts based on the
significance of these things. This second view of a person offers a much
better delineation between persons, animals, and machines. Persons and
animals are subjects of original purpose; machines are subjects of
derivative purpose. That is, the purpose of a person and an animal is
inherent within them while a machines purpose is user-relative. A
calculators purpose is to calculate, but we have designed that purpose to
serve our needs. Persons and animals have a purpose that is much more
original than machines. Both persons and animals are also subjects of
significance. We see how a mother cat offers protection to her kittens,
similar to how a mother person offers protection to her baby. So what
differentiates persons from animals, wherein both are agents with original
purpose and significance?
B. What now differentiates persons from animals is that there are matters of
significance that are peculiarly unique to humans, and that doesnt exist in
animals. These are our senses of pride, shame, guilt, love, hate, lust,
humility, happiness, etc. Animals dont feel guilty if they stole another
animals food. Animals dont have a sense of pride. Animals dont have a
sense of love that is similar to humans. All these things make humans
moral agents, and are thus unique from animals, are accounted for in the
second view.
C. The second view also takes into account the ideas of culture and language.
The passing on through generations a certain way of life, and the
articulation of this way of life is something that is unique to humans. Thus
humans are seen as far more complex beings than animals. Also to add to
the complexity of humanity, matters of significance and moral agency
vary across cultures because each culture has its own standard of things.
For an aboriginal tribe, walking around naked is normal. For a westernized
society, walking around naked is vulgar. Thus, ideas of shame and
embarrassment for the aboriginal tribe are different from the westernized
society. For the westernized society, being naked in public already implies
shame, or immorality because it crosses over a particular standard. But for
the aboriginal tribe, shame might be different, shame could be the
incapacity to produce a male offspring, and being naked in public doesnt
probably go overboard the standard of shame.

D. Now, in terms of language. Language is humanitys unique tool for

articulating his goals, and expressing his culture. Language is very much
rooted in culture. Different cultures have different languages. And despite
having a universal language, say English, each culture has his own way of
interpreting this language. We see different types of English, Filipino
English, Singaporean English, American English, and British English. And
we can see that when different cultures speak the same language with each
other, misinterpretations still occur. The Filipino expression saying Ill go
ahead, is a way of saying I have to go, and Filipinos understand this
because it is a translation to the Tagalog phrase mauuna na ako. But in
the context of the Americans, when you say Ill go ahead, it is implying
that there is someone that will follow you after you have left. Now this
highlights the fact that persons are much more complex beings as opposed
to animals because of qualities that are peculiarly human like the
emotions, culture, and language, and these things we cannot detach from
humanity. Like it or not, we all have emotions, we have a particular
culture, and we all have a language which we speak. Even though a person
may be incapacitated, that person still has emotions, still is affected by
culture, and may still have a way of articulating his goals. And all these
capacities form the basis for our respect for other persons.
E. What makes this second view very important in modern culture is that
paves the way for the process of moral deliberation.