Philosophy of the Person

Sacrifice of Isaac

Caravaggio, 1610

What is a 'person'?

What does it mean to be a person?  


That might seem like an odd question: the definition of person is obvious, surely?  And yet, competing ideologies at play in the world today strongly suggest that our understanding of personhood is not universally shared.  


Personhood is being subjected to increasing ‘deconstruction’ today: individualism, collectivism, relativism, and nihilism all present us with a view of the person that not only represents a radical departure from the traditional understanding of personhood, but which also threaten the very coherence of our culture and society.


The Rebus Institute is working on a series of videos and resources to help the public appreciate both the traditional understanding of personhood, and the very real dangers posed today by these ideological interpretations of what it means to be a person.


In a nutshell, the person was traditionally understood throughout the history of western culture

dyadically: in other words, personhood was understood to imply a relationship.  Personhood described a coming-to-be through intimate association with others.  As John Donne famously penned in his Meditations, No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….”  This dyadic nature of the person had its origins in the relationship each person has with the Divine.


The consequences of abandoning this dyadic notion are being felt far-and-wide today.  


We invite you to find out more, and to join the discussion!

Check out our latest video on personhood:

This is the first video in our new forthcoming series on what it means to be a person.  Click here to find out more about the series and future videos in the works.

Person Quick Links