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dc.contributor.advisorPickering, Neil
dc.contributor.advisorGillett, Grant
dc.contributor.authorWalker, Simon Thomas
dc.date.available2012-04-26T22:48:57Z
dc.date.copyright2012
dc.identifier.citationWalker, S. T. (2012). Rough Ground: Ethics, Ontology and Suffering (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/2251en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/2251
dc.description.abstractIt has been suggested that a person suffers when she perceives herself to be disintegrating. It has also been suggested that a person values her life, and thereby suffers less, if her life has unity, or constitutes some kind of ‘whole’. These ideas have been present in discussions of suffering and health for some time and yet their implications have not been fully explored. This is because we lack an understanding of what it is for a person to be integrated, unified, or whole. In this thesis I discuss two theories of personal wholeness. The first is a neo-Kantian theory that has been recently offered by Christine Korsgaard. The second is derived from the philosophy of Benedict de Spinoza. Korsgaard’s view is that a person is whole in so far as her actions are in rational agreement with her self-conception. I argue that while Korsgaard’s theory provides a credible account of obligation and ethical discourse, it does not provide an account of value and therefore fails to explain what unites a human life. I trace this failure back to the Kantian ontology underlying her theory and explain how this separates the subject from her body and her world, and leaves ‘reasoning’ as the sole and limited means of integration. I discuss how Korsgaard’s theory can be augmented by an account of language that shows how we identify shared values through shared meanings, but conclude that this approach cannot substantially advance our understanding of personal wholeness. In the light of these conclusions I move to the Spinozistic theory. According to this theory a person is an agent continually affected by and affecting others. Value consists in a person actualising her nature as it is constituted by her relationships with those others, and a person’s life has unity as she does this. To be ‘whole’ is to enjoy one’s nature in perfect response to one’s ‘complement in nature’. In so far as a person understands her life in this way she knows herself to be eternal (as all of reality is eternal). In discussing this theory I describe the implications for our understanding of suffering and how it may be addressed. I close by indicating some of the ways that the theory might be extended in future research.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectsuffering
dc.subjectSpinoza
dc.subjectKant
dc.subjectbioethics
dc.subjectKorsgaard
dc.titleRough Ground: Ethics, Ontology and Suffering
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2012-04-26T21:24:20Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineBioethics Centre
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelDoctoral
otago.openaccessOpen
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