SweatyGoldfish
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Can someone try and explain this theory to me in the most basic possible terms? Everyone seems to get it, but I've read my notes on it and I just can't wrap my head around it at all.

I get that it can't be reduced to more simple concepts, but I really don't get the whole psychological and physical ascription part.
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tomfailinghelp
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I imagine the reason you don't get it is that it's absolute *******s, but I'll do my best to explain;

Strawson feels that we cannot reduce personhood to characteristics in the way that other philosophers attempt; this is because the characteristics that we use are usually 'mental'. For example, rationality is a 'mental' characteristic. But we cannot understand persons solely through mental characteristics, because we come to know these through the physical. So, for example, I can't tell if you are rational unless I see rational behaviour. Thus, Strawson feels it absurd to define persons in terms of these isolated 'mental' characteristics, that don't really give a whole picture. We cannot simply define people in 'mental' terms.

One can link this to the fact that we don't identify people in mental terms; I don't identify my mother by her use of rationality, her emotions, or even her thoughts, and feelings, I do so by seeing her physical body. This solves the question of why we should ascribe mental characteristics to the same things as we ascribe corporeal characteristics, and why we should ascribe corporeal characteristics at all; for persons are this basic, 'primitive' things that is not logically reducible.

Is that clear? (I'm fairly confident that it is an accurate description, unless someone thinks otherwise)
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SweatyGoldfish
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(Original post by tomfailinghelp)
I imagine the reason you don't get it is that it's absolute *******s, but I'll do my best to explain;

Strawson feels that we cannot reduce personhood to characteristics in the way that other philosophers attempt; this is because the characteristics that we use are usually 'mental'. For example, rationality is a 'mental' characteristic. But we cannot understand persons solely through mental characteristics, because we come to know these through the physical. So, for example, I can't tell if you are rational unless I see rational behaviour. Thus, Strawson feels it absurd to define persons in terms of these isolated 'mental' characteristics, that don't really give a whole picture. We cannot simply define people in 'mental' terms.

One can link this to the fact that we don't identify people in mental terms; I don't identify my mother by her use of rationality, her emotions, or even her thoughts, and feelings, I do so by seeing her physical body. This solves the question of why we should ascribe mental characteristics to the same things as we ascribe corporeal characteristics, and why we should ascribe corporeal characteristics at all; for persons are this basic, 'primitive' things that is not logically reducible.

Is that clear? (I'm fairly confident that it is an accurate description, unless someone thinks otherwise)
Yeah that's definitely a much better way of wording it than the notes I've got on it thanks alot man. My notes kind of just make a leap from one point to the next with no explanation.

Definitely my weakest point in Persons though so hopefully it doesn't come up.
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tomfailinghelp
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Yeah, I don't think the books tend to explain that one very well personally!
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