Persons (1-3)

1.) “Person” is neither a name for your nature or your self; by the first you’re homo sapiens or rational animal or whatever, by the second you’re Tom, Jerry or Phillis. The nature and self are named more or less for everything, and frequently the same name gets used for both. “Cat” can describe either the sort of thing or the one you’re pointing at but there is no equivalent for “person” among cats or tables or carnations.

2.) The reason there is no equivalent is because there is an irreplaceability to persons or, in Medieval terms, an incommunicabilis. If someone breaks your window they can offer you another one that is just as good, if I mistakenly eat your pizza I can offer you another slice, but the familial relations between persons – which are the source of their existence and development as persons – can’t be treated this way. This irreplaceability can radiate out to some personal possessions and to give rise to sentimental value, but the irreplaceability of persons is prior to and causative of this.

3.) This incommunicabilis is a middle between nature and individual: what is common to all is that there is something not common or sharable. The definition of person as “individual of a rational nature” threatens to miss this feature by pointing to the common nature and defining it with an intentional trait.

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