On being a person

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1):38 – 56 (1996)

Ross Poole
The New School
This paper questions the assumption that the term 'person' designates what we essentially are or ought to be. I use Hegel to argue against Locke and Kant that personal identity is not the foundation of certain legal and moral practices but their effect; and Nietzsche to suggest that being a person is the price we pay for certain kinds of social life. The concept of a person is an abstraction from our human and embodied existence, and to assume that it picks out what is central to our existence makes it impossible to understand the moral significance of birth, growth, dependence, sexuality, procreation and death.
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DOI 10.1080/00048409612347051
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