Reason, Justice and Dignity

A Journey to Some Unexplored Sources of Human Rights

Series:

The term “human rights” is relatively recent. It was first used in the late 18th century, in the West. However, many of the basic ideas behind that concept had long been current in various other cultures and civilizations. The book traces those ideas on a journey to some unexplored, or insufficiently explored, sources of what we now call human rights, in three stages: ancient China with Confucius and Mencius; the golden age of Islam with Avicenna, Averroes and Ibn Khaldun; and 16th century Spain with Las Casas and de Vitoria. The author’s conclusion is that human rights and the fundamental concepts of reason, justice and dignity which underlie them can be a powerful, leavening source of universal human unity.
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Biographical Note

Peter Leuprecht, Doctor of Law, University of Innsbruck (Austria), former Director of Human Rights and Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, retired Professor of McGill and Université du Québec à Montréal. He has published extensively on international law and human rights.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction:
Why this book?
A journey to some unexplored sources of human rights;
Chapter I: First Stage – Harmony through Humaneness: Confucius and Mencius;
Section 1: Confucius – loving the other;
Section 2: Mencius – the thinking heart;
Section 3: What have we discovered?;
Chapter II: Second Stage – Faith and Reason Avicenna, Averroes and Ibn Khaldun;
Section 1: Avicenna – the rational soul;
Section 2: Averroes – the primacy of autonomous reason;
Section 3: Ibn Khaldun – the global thinker;
Section 4: What have we discovered?;
Chapter III: Third Stage – The Equal Dignity of Others: Bartolomé de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria;
Context: the theory and practice of Christian imperialism;
Section 1: Bartolomé de Las Casas – champion of the “Indians”;
Section 2: Francisco de Vitoria – tormented doubter and father of international law;
Section 3: What have we discovered?;
Conclusion: What have we discovered?;
What are we bringing home from our journey? - A powerful incentive to promote intercultural and inter-religious dialogue;
Index.

Readership

Those interested in a broader vision of the history of the idea of human rights, including the thinking of ancient China, the golden age of Islam and 16th century Spain.

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