Neither Beast nor God

The Dignity of the Human Person

Appeals to human dignity are at the core of many of the most contentious social and political issues of our time. But these appeals suggest different and at times even contradictory ways of understanding the term. Is dignity something we all share equally and therefore the reason we all ought to be treated as equals? Or is dignity what distinguishes some greater and more admirable human beings from the rest? What notion of human dignity should inform our private judgments and our public life?

In Neither Beast nor GodGilbert Meilaender elaborates the philosophical, social, theological, and political implications of the question of dignity, and suggests a path through the thicket. A noted theologian and a prominent voice in America’s bioethics debates, Meilaender traces the ways in which notions of dignity shape societies, families, and individual lives. He incisively cuts through some of the common confusions that cloud our thinking on key moral questions. The dignity of humanity and the dignity of the person, he argues, are distinct but deeply connected — and only by grasping them both can we find our way to a meaningful understanding of the human condition.

Neither Beast Nor God

Praise for Neither Beast nor God

“Gilbert Meilaender has written an articulate and compelling justification of human dignity for an age that increasingly evinces less confidence in its self-evidence. Neither Beast nor God is accessible without shortchanging either erudition or complexity. It should be read and considered by everyone with an interest in the future of humanity’s humanity. ”

Patrick J. Deneen, Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair of Hellenic Studies; Director, Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, Georgetown University