Jason E. Summers
September 23, 2012
Thank you for this thoughtful essay. However, I'm not convinced that human value is grounded in teleology. That would suggest that we are of value for what we will become someday, and leaves people with disabilities still not being valued for who they are now. Hans Rienders' argument in "Receiving the Gift of Friendship" (if I understand him correctly) is that each human has value because we have been created in the image of God. He argues further that this is not so much an ontological concept as a relational one. To be made in the image of God is to be identified by God himself as someone with whom God chooses to be a friend. Ability, disability, or enhanced ability are then irrelevant with regard to the person's value.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I've not read Rienders, but would not disagree with his position as you describe it. It was not my intention at all to suggest worth is somehow contingent or affected by ability. Becker reflected on the injunction that we "be perfect" noting that perfection in the original context means to be fully who one is created to be---to fullfil, in this sense, our teleological purpose. And, as Rienders points out, we are created to be in relationship with God, or, as Becker might say, to be dependent. This potential, universally latent, accepted or not, is the ground of worth for all people and is not contigent on ability.
Add your comment to join the discussion!