Problematic of Dignity

Kant: “What is related to general human inclinations and needs has a market price; that which, even without presupposing a need, conforms with a certain taste, that is, with a delight in the mere purposeless play of our mental powers, has a fancy price; but that which constitutes the condition under which alone something can be an end in itself has not merely a relative worth, that is, a price, but an inner worth, that is, dignity.”

I find the concept of dignity fascinating, not least of which because dignity in a general sense and in Kant’s moral sense above seems to be hard to find nowadays. The first time I recognised I needed to think about something along the lines of ‘dignity’ (but without knowing what to call it) was after hearing a Vietnam veteran speak at work about his new book. He had a certain gravitas that did not beg or challenge you or attempt to lose or win you over in any way.

Diginity is not decency, I don’t care about decency. Dignity for me is a kind of relationality.

One reply on “Problematic of Dignity”

  1. Yes and no, right? For some people dignity is a performance style that engenders passive intimidation if it works. It’s conferred by status or the performance of entitlement. It radiates norms for interaction. For others it isn’t just a mode of composure, but it’s manners that seek to lubricate a situation, a way of making room to maneuver between and among people, a space of grace.

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