26 Pages

Why Dignity in Old Age Matters

But the concept of dignity in old age is not a simple idea. "Dignity" as an idea has a long and important history in ethics but it does not denote a single essence. On the contrary, the meaning of dignity is complex, ambiguous and multivalent-something akin to what Wittgenstein suggests in his example the word "game": that is, a cluster or network of meanings captured by the metaphor of "family resemblance." The essentialist quest for conceptual purity beyond history and change is futile, Wittgenstein warns us. Better to look at the use of ideas in order to probe the depth of their meaning.