Dignity in the Religious Traditions
How do different religions understand human dignity? Where do they challenge secular values and vice-versa?
Each of us has an inalienable human dignity to be respected.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, new importance was placed in international and national law, and in the Catholic Social Teaching developed by the popes, on the dignity of the human person. However, what is this dignity, and what are its implications? Philosophers, theologians, and Human Rights lawyers hold differing views with far-reaching implications for Human Rights.
Human Dignity in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition [Sean Loughlin]
The main output in this project was the edited book of that title published by Bloomsbury Press in 2019.
The book, edited by LCI Fellow, Professor John Loughlin, consists of a number of chapters based mainly on lectures held at the LCI during the period 2017-18 with the addition of some specially commissioned chapters.
The purpose of the lectures and the book was to explore the meaning of the concept of human dignity from a variety of Christian perspectives: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Reformed Protestant. Central to the theme was the distinction between ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ developed by Irenaeus of Lyon. Basically Irenaeus taught that humans, made in ‘image and likeness of God’ (Genesis) lost the ‘likeness’ but not the ‘image’ at the Fall. This was developed subsequently by Christian theologians including Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas. It also underlay art and literature during the Renaissance. Luther and the Reformed tradition did not accept the distinction but argued that humans lost the image as well as the likeness with original sin.
A shorter version of the argument can be found in John Loughlin, ‘Human Dignity: the Foundation of Human Rights and Religious Freedom” in Memoria y Civilización, Vol. 19 (December 2016):313-343, DOI:10.15581/001.19.313-343