The concept of the person as holistic and relational : a study of the religious philosophy of John Macmurray
The overall aim of this thesis is to critically assess the concept of the person in Macmurray's philosophy. This exploration requires a general examination of Macmurray's published and unpublished writings owing to the lack of any full length study of his ideas. In particular, this thesis is broadly sympathetic to Macmurray's thought and seeks to reveal the relevance of its for today. Whilst certain details of his theory are contentious and inadequate, they are not beyond redemption. Religion is important for Macmurray, but he is primarily a philosopher, and the content of this thesis reflects this. In the first chapter, Macmurray's antagonism towards traditional mind-body dualism is discussed in connection with his definition of the Self as an embodied agent. It is in this sense that his concept of the person represents an holistic account of the individual. Whilst speculation surrounds Macmurray's influences, some comparisons are drawn and the ensuing criticisms are examined. As a direct result of the postulation of the Self as agent, the existence of the Other is both confirmed and deemed necessary. Chapter two explores the interaction between the Self and the Other from the perspective of the human infant. It asserts the importance of relationships for the growth of the individual. Then, with reference to the ethical implications of the related agent, chapter three examine the composition of societies, paying particular attention to Marxist analysis, and seeking to extricate Macmurray's transferable ideas from those conditioned by his era. Finally, chapter four claims that communities are necessary for the full expression of the person, whilst criticising Macmurray's dubious employment of religious terminology in this respect. In essence, this thesis argues that the insights of Macmurray's theory have been needlessly neglected, and that the person must be understood from the perspective of agency and relationships.