Dignity is mankind’s most prized possession, yet what do we actually mean when we talk about dignity? In this new book, philosopher Peter Bieri looks afresh at the notion of human dignity, seeing it not as a theoretical idea or innate quality, but as something deeply connected with the specific ways that we think, experience and act in the world. Developing his argument with examples from everyday life and literature, Bieri shows how dignity plays out in a whole range of varied situations, identifying three key dimensions of this practice: dignity as a relation others have towards me, dignity as a relation I have with others, and dignity as a self-relation.
Bieri also shows why dignity is so important to preserve. Our need for dignity forms in response to the fragility of human existence and the constant external and internal dangers we face. It is only through dignity that we can consciously assert our value as human beings, enabling us to hold these threats in check and stand firm in the midst of suffering.
In wonderfully clear language, Bieri goes beyond abstract theories to demonstrate the centrality of dignity to our lives, as a practical means to tackle the most profound existential questions that confront us.
PETER BIERI studied philosophy and classical philology and was Professor of Philosophy at Bielefeld, Marburg and the Freie Universität Berlin.
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