Date of Submission

December 2006


From the book of Genesis the human person is presented as divine image-bearer, a Godlike status that is further explained in terms of the dual constitution of matter and spirit. Natural Law provides a person-centred ethic that draws on a number of human goods that emanate naturally from the human person and lead in practice to human flourishing. This theory empowers towards making ethical decisions in the interest of human persons. Aristotle explained the human being as a substantially existing entity with rational powers. By means of his form-matter scheme he handed on, by way of Boethius, to Aquinas, a ready model for the Christian belief in the dual nature of the human person as an ensouled body or embodied soul. Applying the new scientific method to the question of the human self David Hume concluded that he could neither prove nor disprove her existence. By so reasoning Hume indirectly pointed to the need for other disciplines than empirical science to explain the human person. Emmanuel Levinas has drawn on the metaphysical tradition to draw attention to the social and ethical nature of the human person as she leaves the trace of her passing through the face of the other person who is encountered with an ethical gravitas of absolute demand. The genesis of the human person most naturally begins at conception at which point and onwards the human embryo grows continuously through an internal, animating principle towards a full-grown adult person. The main conclusion is that biblical anthropology and metaphysical philosophy provide the needed structures and concepts to explain adequately the full meaning of the human person and to establish the moral right of the human person at every stage to respect and protection.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


205 pages


Faculty of Arts and Sciences