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Understanding Human Dignity$
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Christopher McCrudden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265642

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265642.001.0001

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Human Dignity, Interiority, and Poverty

Human Dignity, Interiority, and Poverty

(p.559) 33 Human Dignity, Interiority, and Poverty
Understanding Human Dignity

Clemens Sedmak

British Academy

The concept of human dignity is based on a particular pattern of perception: of perceiving humans as beings rather than things. The Israeli philosopher, Avishai Margalit terms the treatment of humans as ‘things’: ‘blindness to the human aspect’. Recognizing individuals as living beings means being aware of an inherent inner depth, a dimension of interiority famously described by Augustine in his Confessions. Becoming aware of interiority of other also means sensing his/her vulnerability. Human dignity needs nourishment found in model examples. Those members of society who are particularly vulnerable lack such nourishment, and focusing on these individuals helps us to realize the ‘perceptive value’ of human dignity. It is suggested that vulnerability experienced serves both as a litmus test and the basis for operationalizing the concept of human dignity.

Keywords:   vulnerability, interiority, poverty, dignity, self, humiliation, self-respect

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