- Post 15 April 2011
- Last Updated on 15 April 2011
- By Umekachikelu Franklin Chukwuebuka
The term humanism refers to the admiration and improvement of the equality of being human; a concern with the needs, well-being, and interest of people. Philosophically speaking it refers to any philosophy which recognizes the values or dignity of man and makes him the measure of all thing or some how takes human nature, its limits, or its interest as its theme. This system of thought that is based on values no doubt should be a proper foundation on which human dignity could be laid.
HUMAN DIGNITY AND RIGHT
According to Von Balthaasar, On The Concept of Person, in: Communio: International catholic Rewiev “Special dignity is ascribed to man because of his uniqueness and rationality, his incomparability and irreplaceability as an individual.” In A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics, Childress and Macquerrie, stresses that it is in fact the reason why man is endowed with rights which provides the basis for the understanding of human dignity.
Human dignity is the existence of the individual man or woman as constituting a task and a challenge for the existing person and as imposing certain obligations on the other individuals and the society. Put differently it is man’s right, his moral responsibility, freedom, his drive for superiority, and his being summoned to live in communion and in a society with the other. It is inseparable from the individual and as such does not depend for its reality on being acknowledged by others. It is inherent in man.
The dignity of human person rests on the fact that he is free, knowing and responsible being. Thus, human beings unlike other animals are capable of self-consciousness. Man’s conscience allows him to freely seek the truth and the wisdom worthy of his dignity and respect for other individuals. Hence, the dignity of man involves man’s profound consciousness of himself and that of others. The quality of the dignity of man therefore distinguishes him from the rest of the things and natures in the universe.
It is this dignity that provides the only sure basis for human right, which is central to the teaching of the church. The church sees all human rights as the embodiment of the fundamental natural characteristics of every human person. The dignity of man therefore, consists in the fact that he is a human person with inalienable rights which are universal and inviolable. Hence, Pope John Paul 11 states in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis states: “human beings are totally free when they are completely themselves, in the fullness of their rights and duties.”
The control of the human person over things constitutes that basis for the original claim for the defense of human right. In other words human rights are what people necessarily need in order to fulfill their fundamental task of becoming human person. The purpose of which is to achieve the survival and development of the dignity of man in the society and for the relation of persons and groups. This implies that the appeal for human dignity provides the basic premise for the contemporary understanding and defense of human rights. Human rights are rights that each person has simply by virtue of his nature. Thus, it belongs to all persons on an equal basis. This fundamental right includes right to life, and the basic means to sustain it, right to freedom of thought and worship and so on.
HUMANISM AS AN IDEAL OF HUMAN DIGNITY AND RIGHT
Among all created beings, the human person is only thing that suppose not to be exploited. Thus is the only creature God has created and loved for his own sake. Human beings can meaningfully experience and influence the environment. Thus, a human being must never be treated as a thing. As Otto Semmelroth strongly holds that society must be prepared to serve man, society, must never absorb the human person into itself. Rather, society must realize that it lives by personal development.
The dignity of man consists in the “dominion of man over the visible world.” Society is therefore made for man. In all social institutions, the well-being of individual human beings must be the criterion and measure of every human achievement. As the social teaching of the church instructs that man always has priority over the social-economic systems in which he participates. That is to underscore that human realities are for man, who has a “central place within society.” It is therefore morally unacceptable to sacrifice the dignity of the human person for national or political interest.
CONCLUSIONWe have with all expositional analysis projected man as the centre and core of existence. He is a being that exists in the world of existence and suppose not to be marginalized or subdued. This social honour, his dignity and rights made him a person, a gift from God. May we then consider this gift, the dignity and the right of man.