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p. 657. What is a person?locked

  • Stephen Mumford


‘What is a person?’ asks why a person has special status. What makes a person a different particular from a table or other physical object? Is it intelligence, consciousness, or moral actions? John Locke believed it was memory, or psychological continuity, that made something a person. Descartes thought that there were two parts to us: our bodies and our minds, and that our minds could live on after death, as immortal souls. However, there is also bodily continuity — a continuous line in space and time between a person now and what they were throughout the past. Personal identity may depend on whether you think we have souls or not.

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