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Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons Paperback – 15 Mar 2018
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In Being Human, Rowan Williams, one of today's most brilliant and profound thinkers, has produced a rich and thought-provoking meditation on the themes of consciousness, language, relationship, speech, silence and what it is to be a person. A marvellous and moving work: philosophical theology at its very best. Source: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Through an elegant exploration of the nature of human consciousness Being Human convincingly debunks current discourse about the value of autonomy as the foundation of self-confidence, restoring human narrative and relationships to the heart of our being. A fascinating book, worthy of reflection and discussion. Source: Baroness Sheila Hollins, Emeritus Professor of the psychiatry of learning disability at St George's, University of London
'Rowan William's most striking characteristics are his humanity and his fine intellect. Here he uses both gifts quite brilliantly to illuminate what it means to be human. A stimulating collection of provocative yet reassuring essays. A gift from an exceptional man.' Source: Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, FRSA, Chair of Justice – the UK section of the International Commission of Jurists
Williams never disappoints: his reflections on such important topics as the nature of consciousness, how we view time, and the wisdom of silence make vital reading. Source: Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary
One of the strengths of this book is that Williams recognises religion can go bad. He defends a proper sense of dependence but distinguishes this from the infantilism certain institutions encourage. Source: The Church of England Newspaper
This book is cooler in tone, more academic and less direct, but it is learned, insightful and illuminating. Nobody concerned with the present state of humanity should miss it. Source: The Tablet
A deeply engaging exploration of the nature of human concsciousness and personhood by one of the world's greatest theologiansSee all Product description
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Williams begins with a clearly argued attack on reductionist metaphors (assumed to be truth-bearing because they carry the supposed authority of science): the mind as "a kind of machine", for instance. Such "compelling and seductive" statements admit you "to an inner circle of those who know What Is Really Going On; and we all know how immensely appealing that is."
Against such encroaching mental knotweed, he deploys an array of relational pictures of human consciousness in its complexity (with telling use in several places of Edith Stein's reminder that we can't see the back of our own heads...)
Having been lectured as a young man more than once, in my place of work, about how "time is money", I myself especially appreciated what Williams has to say about the consequences of a simplistically-materialist outlook for our use of, and appreciation of, time.
You will not be surprised to read that at the centre of Williams's essay is an "encounter that we will never get to the bottom of", a "mysterious reality that nobody knows how to talk about." Though he gives an attractive picture of spirituality for grown-ups, there are also some questions for religious practitioners, such as "What is the 'human face' that is being uncovered in the practice of faith?" (that is, uncovered to those not of that particular persuasion).
All in all, I thought this a wondrous, many-sided piece of writing...so much so, that I immediately sat down and read it through a second time. It would certainly defy any attempt to summarize, and I think any reader, Christian or not, will take away much to ponder.