It is in the hermeneutics of theories that the relevant foundations of socio-political and even legal progress may be established. Theories themselves are either directly postulated by their originators, or are espoused from the thoughts of great thinkers as in the present case where we try to read the ‘person-optimism’ theory into Archbishop Valerian Okeke’s thoughts and attitude to the dignities of man. In the life style, speeches, writings and administrative actions of Archbishop Okeke, one is recurrently confronted by a prodigious predilection for the sanctity, capacity, dynamism and dignity of the human person. This rare optimism characterizes the Archbishop’s personal approach to the all too commonly disvalued human person, much as it underpins his theoretical conception of the otherwise depraved human nature. In this work, we merely try to outline the profound ethical considerations which inspire Archbishop Okeke’s irrevocable optimism in the dignity of man, including the corresponding features of jurisprudence derivable from his general thoughts on the subject. Interestingly, from the rich thought pattern of the Archbishop, one derives a veritable theoretical foundation for positive evaluation of all legal positions and/or defenses arising from the dignity attached thereof to human nature. Accordingly, we read into and designate his ethic of human nature as ‘person-optimism’ approach to reality and so build it up to a theoretical status through an aggregate of postulates. This work there upon argues that arising from the ‘person-optimism’ theory of Archbishop Valerian Okeke, existing legal framework for the protection of human dignity and rights could be more positively adjusted. The substance of this work therefore is to make a case for the adoption of the ‘person-optimism’ theory as a jurisprudential ground for further reviews and postulations of legal defense and/or protection of human dignity and rights especially in the Nigerian Jurisdiction. The Archbishop’s 2007 Lenten Pastoral provides the fundamental anchor for this work.
Key words: Archbishop Okeke, optimism, ‘person-optimism’ theory, human dignity.
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