Do You Realize You Are Most Human When Engaging in an I-Thou Dialogue Relationship?
The book, What Is Man? Male and Female, aims to help educators, parents, and others in the helping professions come to their own insights into what and who is the modern human person. It appeals to the thinking and caring person who is looking for meaning and direction. The book synthesizes the works of five major thinkers whose theories, consciously or unconsciously, influence modern Western persons and systems.
Serious people want to know that life has a meaning and a direction and whether or not there is life after death. Studying these five varying approaches and using the reflective questions at the end of each Chapter and the extensive bibliographies, gives one the tools needed to further shape one’s own philosophy of life. Professor Fleury, Ed.D. has done a masterly piece of groundwork. He generously offers the results of his own life’s quest to those who are willing to make the effort to study his work to find meaning for themselves, others, and for our cultural-evolution.
Ruth McGoldrick, SP, MRE
Adult Educator and Spiritual Director
Dr. Fleury has done a great service for educators, parents, and all concerned with raising and educating children in today’s world. He has invited those so involved to perform that most elemental and human of efforts, namely, to reflect for themselves on what motivates them to journey with young people toward maturity. By sampling the thoughts of five men (de Chardin, Buber, Dewey, Sartre, and Skinner) each of whom in his own way has greatly influenced the pedagogical process, Dr. Fleury teases out both the similarities and dramatic differences which inform these schools of thought. Ranging from theories that are theological to atheistic and autonomous to deterministic, readers must ask themselves what moves them to enter the classroom, how they understand their role as teacher and that of the child, and what exactly it is that they hope to accomplish in the learning process beyond the growth of knowledge. In other words, why educate and to what end? In addition to offering an insight into each thinker, Dr. Fleury summarizes the man’s thoughts and then provocatively invites the reader to do his/her own necessary personal reflection on the strengths, weaknesses, similarities, and even the mutually enhancing elements of each school of thought.
Rev. Dr. Richard A. Bondi, S.T.L., D. Min.
In this engaging and challenging book, Dr. Bernard Fleury explores one of the most fundamental questions of human existence, what is man? This question has been probed throughout human history. The answer a person, community or nation gives to this question greatly determines the way that person, community or nation will live.
Dr. Fleury reviews the central themes of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Buber, John Dewey, Jean Paul Sartre, and B.F. Skinner. His discussion on de Chardin’sOmega Point points to the goal for the person and the creation in God. His discussions on Buber, Dewey, and Skinner elaborate on the interpersonal and social nature of human development and learning. His review of the work of Sartre reminds us that every person must take responsibility for the person he or she is becoming. Dr. Fleury offers us the opportunity to reflect on those influences, internal and external, that shape who we are.
He points out the central features of each man’s view on the nature of man and what relation that can have on how a teacher can best help a student to learn and become the person they are meant to be. He makes clear that any person who wishes to truly engage in the enterprise of human growth and development, their own and that of others, must be concerned with the dynamic nature of human becoming. More than any other effective method for effective human development is the effectiveness of modeling for others what they need to learn to make a positive difference in the world and their lives. We are called to value each person, and by example, reveal what a real human being can be.
This book is a very helpful guide to illustrate the tensions in our culture about how to define who we are. It will prove helpful for those interested in understanding the human person not merely as a product of the interaction of the laws of physics and chemistry, but as a complex creature of many interdependent dimensions, personal, social, moral, psychological, and spiritual. Unless one attends to each of these dimensions a person cannot be a more fully realized human being!
Everything is at stake about what we finally decide about what it means to be us. Are we beings created in the image of God and destined for completion in God? Or, are we merely an absurd accident in the cosmos devoid of purpose and meaning? The answer to this question will have a great deal to do with whether or not the human race and planet earth continues to develop, or by some human folly and loss of faith in God and man, we pull down the curtain on the whole thing. I would like to assume the former. For the Christian, modeling the person of Jesus Christ is the way that a person becomes what they are meant to be—an expression of the unfathomable love of God for others.
Deacon Robert M. Pallotti, M.A., D. Min.
Director of the Office of the Diaconate
Archdiocese of Hartford, Ct.
Whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, we are all affected by someone’s philosophy. Because of this philosophy governments and agencies take a particular direction. As these philosophies change or develop they effectuate new insights. On these perceptions we make practical decisions. We determine a way of life. We try to become more aware of our surroundings. We seek to improve ourselves and our surroundings as much as we can. We move together individually and collectively. So it has been since the dawn of humankind. Life therefore changes, grows, and revitalizes itself. Since we commit so much of ourselves and our resources to education, would we not want to get from our efforts as much as we can? So we continually seek to formulate a philosophy of education. The more we understand ourselves, our needs and our aspirations, the more we can grow individually and as a race.
As a student of philosophy and of psychology for forty years, I continually seek to gain insight into the mind and the development of the minds of people. What make us tick? We are people and we are given the gift of perception. People are our greatest resource and our greatest asset.
Insights into ourselves and others provide us with opportunity to remain based in reality, to verify our perceptions and bring our efforts to fruition. Together we help each other move forward in dignity and respect. We not only improve our condition of life but our ideals as well.
Dr. Fleury’s book seeks to delve into the most intriguing and most crucial question of all. “What is Man”? Male and Female. With this age old question Dr. Fleury takes us on a delightful adventure into the mind of five of our prominent thinkers. He synthesizes their thoughts not only with clarity but presents them in practical and usable form. From the principles he presents we find immediate applications not only in the area of education but to our personal and more conscious growth. We also have the opportunity to see the results of these thoughts applied in practical and realistic settings. His down to earth examples provide us with insights as to just how our simplest thoughts have such far reaching results.
With perception comes awareness and with awareness come a more focused and deliberate intention. Along with the good and the potential we see in each other we can achieve heights not yet dreamed of. All because some people dare to think and to formulate a vision.
Rev. J. Donald R. Lapointe, BPh, S.T.L., M.Ed., LicSW
Dr. Bernard J Fleury’s book underscores the value of the liberal arts and the need for colleges and universities to support the humanities which explore the quintessential question: What does it mean to be a human person? Dr. Fleury’s introduces us to some original thinkers and philosophers who wrestled with this question from their particular world views. Educators, humanists, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists, parents, and seekers of all walks of life will find themselves asking questions about the human person in light of some challenging topics: human evolution, interreligious dialogue, character formation, public education, belief and unbelief, freedom and human dignity, genetic technology, and human behavior. Dr. Fleury draws upon the works and wisdom of de Chardin, Buber, Dewey, Sartre, and Skinner and entices us to ask our own questions about the meaning of life and to reflect more profoundly on what it means to be a human person in the 21st century.
Fr. Warren J. Savage, Lecturer, Religious Studies Department, Our Lady of the Elms College, Chicopee, MA