As so often seems to happen with this blog, in the course of writing the previous entry I found myself talking confidently about something I’d previously had no inkling of — in this case, the central role played by the concept of “personhood” in the chaos vision. But now that I hear myself saying it, it makes perfect sense.
At the present moment, personhood is a primary moral touchstone of our culture. It defines our most basic values, and questions about precisely who and what can be considered a person lie at the heart of our most heated debates — from abortion to the hunting of whales to the question of whether corporations have a right to free speech.
This position of moral authority goes back to the 1960’s, when personhood was first used to trump the belief of the failing science vision that it was legitimate to treat human beings as objects. The concept of personhood is much older, however. It is as old as the chaos vision itself and is based directly on that vision’s understanding of inner experience.
Simply stated, if you have an inner life — dreams, imagination, self-awareness — you are a person. Without an inner life, you are at best a zombie. And it is the gray areas which generate the arguments.