Wed, 30 May 2007
This special issue of Audition features interviews with five cultural historians, each reflecting on how assumptions of the meaning of "the human person" has shaped some aspect of the American experience. They are all interested in how particular understandings of human nature have influenced American history, and how the distinctive shape of American history has shaped understanding of the meaning of human nature and the contours of human flourishing.
Each of these thinkers contributed an essay to the anthology Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past (Eerdmans). In conversation with Ken Myers on this podcast, Wilfred M. McClay (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) discusses the differences between the terms "self" and "person." Eric Miller (Geneva College) recounts how Christopher Lasch's insightful books and essays exposed dehumanizing patterns in American cultural life. Eugene McCarraher (Villanova University) explains how many early 20th-centuury thinkers saw modern business corporations as proponents of a more communal shape to public life. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (Syracuse University) raises some probing questions about how television shapes moral understanding in children. Christopher Shannon (Christendom College) compares how medical institutions interpret the meaning of suffering with the Christian tradition's interpretation (aided by the writing of Ivan Illich).
Each of these guests has been featured on a past issue of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal; when heard together, the resonance implied among their diverse concerns become more evident.