Who am I when I’ve forgotten who I am? What does it mean to love God and be loved by God when I have forgotten who God is? These are the two main questions of John’s Swinton’s book on Living in the Memories of God, and these are the kind of questions that Xavier Symon is trying to explore in developing a more robust theology and philosophy of dementia.
Xavier Symon is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Australia Catholic University’s Plunkett Centre for Ethics and currently scholar in residence at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute for Ethics. In an essay he published with our Church Life Journal, he proposes that Christian personalism offers promising avenues for pursuing a theology and philosophy of dementia, since Christian personalism leads us toward seeing and caring for whole persons. Today we will talk about conceptions of the self, the deconstruction of the ego, the loss and the dignity of those who suffer from dementia, and even the radical reversal of our commonplace understanding of personhood.