- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Person1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 30/06/2020 11:05:17): Person
- I must first consider whether the debate on personal identity has been hijacked by a term (whose meaning has changed over time) that can now be dispensed with. Wiggins claims that the Greeks had no term for “person” (I need to re-read the paper by "Trendelenberg (Adolf) - A Contribution to the History of the Word Person" to double-check this). Have we always secretly been talking about human animal identity (probably referring to human beings4 rather than human animals) when we thought we were talking about something separate, namely persons?
- I need to start with some conceptual5 analysis, though this may lead to somewhat arbitrary (ie. merely semantic6 or culture-relative) conclusions if PERSON isn’t a natural kind7 concept.
- I accept Locke8’s conceptual distinction between Human Beings9 (“Men”), Persons and Substances10. I accept Locke’s assertion that the rational parrot would be a person, but not a man – the latter essentially involving particular physical characteristics, the former specific mental characteristics.
- Can any purely mentalistic definition of the concept PERSON, such as Locke’s definition of a person as
“a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places” ("Locke (John) - Of Identity and Diversity" - Essay II.27.2)be correct? I suspect not, because of the corporeal aspects we take as being essential to our self-image.
- But, when we think of ourselves in this corporeal way, is this qua ANIMAL or qua PERSON. But then, this “qua-ing” can lead to relative identity11, and shows how difficult it is for me, at least, to maintain the strict logic of identity12 in these discussions.
- Some further, fairly random, thoughts:-
- We must not ignore potential differences between the Person, the Self13 and the Individual14.
- I doubt the truth of the contention that one’s Self is the sum of one’s projects, one’s individual “identity15”.
- We must also note the potential for degrees of personhood16.
- Are persons essentially sentient? Or rational? And is rationality, like the mental generally, overstated by philosophers whose favourite habitat it is?
- What about temporal gaps17 in sentience & rationality in the life of an individual – does the person pop in and out of existence?
- What about legal persons: not companies, but the comatose, who still have estates (but then so do the deceased18)?
- How important is “person”, as against “sentient being19” in my research concerns? The Cartesians denied sentience to animals20 and until recently there has been a down-playing of the capacities of animals, particularly their emotional capacities. Consequently, the persistence criteria21 for sentient non-humans may not have been given the focus they ought. I suspect that many of the thought experiments22 work just as well if we drop some of the more onerous requirements of personhood in such contexts. Some of the thought experiments play on the thought of “being tortured tomorrow23”. While animals may not have the concept TOMORROW, I presume the higher animals have some capacity for anticipating future ills about to befall them. I wonder whether my research concerns should be about all beings that care about the future, whether or not they have a clear concept of it as their future.
- I will probably start with Dennett’s six criteria of personhood (see "Dennett (Daniel) - Conditions of Personhood") …
… in investigating what persons are. See the following essay24 on "Dennett (Daniel) - Conditions of Personhood"
- intentionality – “predicated of”
- intentionality – “adopted towards”
- reciprocation of the personal stance,
- verbal communication and
- Recently, it has come to my attention that a related term of art – PERSONITE25 – has been coined to refer to a temporal part of a person. See the Note for discussion.
- For a Page of Links26 to this Note, Click here. This list is vastly too long for an updating run, so I will simply use it to cherry-pick items of relevance. Unfortunately, this means that very many items are irrelevant.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read27 include the following:-
- "Cottingham (John) - Why we are not 'persons'", Cottingham
- "Nanay (Bence) - Catching Desires", Nanay
- A further reading list might start with:-
- "Noller (Jorg) - A Transformative Account of Personal Identity", Noller
- "Noller (Jorg) - Person", Noller
- This is mostly a place-holder28.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (30/06/2020 11:05:17).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
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