What does it mean to love someone? What does the concept of human dignity mean, and what are its consequences? What marks the end of a person's life? Is personhood more than consciousness? These perplexing questions lurk beneath the surface of everyday life, surfacing only to demand urgent attention in crises.
Renowned German philosopher Robert Spaemann addresses these and other foundational enigmas in three eloquent short essays. Speaking wisdom to controversy, he offers carefully considered, novel approaches to key philosophical and theological questions about the nature of human love ("The Paradoxes of Love"), dignity ("Human Dignity and Human Nature"), and death ("Is Brain Death the Death of a Human Person?").
This book is the inaugural volume in Humanum, an imprint of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
-- University of Edinburgh
"These three essays by Robert Spaemann will make an excellent first encounter (it is unlikely to be the last) for readers who do not yet know the probing and delicate thought of this distinguished German Catholic moral philosopher, equally at home in the traditional themes of Western Christian philosophy and in the technicalities of contemporary problems posed by technology. Two chapters that distill lines of thought from Spaemann's major works, Happiness and Benevolence and Persons, lead to a memorably stinging critique of brain-death criteria in transplant surgery. This is Christian thoughtfulness at its most engaging."
-- Catholic University of America
"Robert Spaemann is one of the leading contemporary German philosophers. In many groundbreaking works he has thought about what it means to be a person. Persons, he argues, 'have' their nature and are free; they are not simply their nature. This is why there is a special dignity of the person. This insight is extremely important but often forgotten. In these timely (and very accessible) essays, Spaemann reminds us about who a person is -- and how we can live humanly. Everyone who cares about the human person, not just the professional philosopher, will be grateful for this book!"
-- University of Aberdeen
"Philosophy, when well done, surprises. It is precisely this capacity that makes the short collection of essays presented here a rewarding read. Spaemann's analyses cut through the layers of surface assumptions that have crystallized around the concepts he engages - love, dignity, and death. With philosophical wit and theological inspiration, these essays offer compelling reasons for politically incorrect insights: why love gives sight (instead of blinding us), why jealousy belongs to love, why one can commit adultery even with one's own spouse, why there is no right to have one's dignity respected, and why a brain-dead person is dying and hence living."
Journal of Reformed Theology
"The highlights of Love and the Dignity of Human Life are numerous. . . . The prose is engaging and dynamic. . . Spaemann's thought is comprehensive and integrated. . . . Spaemann is judicious and careful in his moral reasoning."
Reviews in Religion & Theology
"An accessible thematic introduction to Spaemann's rich and complex thought. . . . These essays, powerful and evocative in demonstrating the range and complexity of Spaemann's thought, offer a powerful introduction to his work."