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Keywords:

  • culture;
  • embodied cognition;
  • identity;
  • individual;
  • narrative;
  • person;
  • relationality;
  • uniqueness

Abstract

Contemporary theological anthropology is now almost united in its opposition toward concepts of the abstract individual. Instead there is a strong preference for concrete concepts, which locate individual human being in historically and socioculturally contingent contexts. In this paper I identify, and discuss in detail, three key themes that structure recent theological opposition to abstract concepts of the individual: (1) the idea that individual human beings are constituted in part by their relations with their environments, with other human beings, and with God; (2) the idea that individual human beings are unique entities; (3) the idea that individual human beings cannot be conceptualized in atemporal terms. Subsequently, I seek to demonstrate that theories of embodied cognition offer broad, if not unconditional, support for the concept of the concrete individual. As such, I suggest, theories of embodied cognition provide a valuable resource for dialogue between contemporary science and theological anthropology.