Their presence is felt in the landscape and the environment.
Why are discussions on personhood and the moral standing of the dead important?
Human remains are studied in order to understand past health and diseases, cause of death, nature of the surrounding environment, what their diets were, glimpse of the climate, etc. In medical and scientific terms, the study of medieval, historic and pre-historic skeletal remains can help us prevent outbreaks of deadly diseases today and may even assist us in finding cures to some diseases (ibid).
‘Things can legitimately be used as means to human ends in a way in which ‘persons’ cannot’ (ibid: 6).
For Kant, because things have no autonomy on their own, they are objects rather than subjects (ibid).
With this comes rationality, dignity, respect and rights (ibid).
In the Dualistic and Materialistic worldview, the dead are separated from the living resulting in human remains being viewed as ‘things’.
Beinkowski (2006: 8) sees it essential to dig deeper in the various attitudes we hold towards mind, body and consciousness because ‘the relationship between Body and Mind lies at the core of different world-views’ (ibid: 2).
There are four worldviews: (1) Dualism: French philosopher Rene Descartes explicate that human beings have two separate substances, Mind and Body.
We see that respect is a matter of relativity in this case.
There is not one correct answer as both cases are valid.
Because of this, ‘archaeology, as an archetypal dualistic/materialistic practice, treats dead bodies as ‘things’, for its own ends.
And so, on the whole, do museums’ (Bienkowski 2006: 7).
This view ‘came to be the philosophical foundation of Enlightenment knowledge and of the practice of ‘Science’ from the seventeenth century onwards’, guiding the disciplines of archaeology and museology; (2) Materialism: only Body or Matter exists.