The development of the first-person perspective. A gradualist approach

Manuscrito 29 (2):677-705 (2006)


What are we, most fundamentally? Two topical answers to this question are discussed and rejected and a more evolutionary account is offered. Lynne Baker argues that we are persons: beings with a first-person perspective. Persons form a separate ontological category, with persistence conditions that are different from those of the body. Eric Ol-son, by contrast, claims that we are human organisms. No psychological property is definitive of what we are. Our persistence conditions are those of the human organism. In a more evolutionary approach to the notion of personhood, it is argued that we are indeed, most fundamentally, beings with a first-person perspective. But such a perspective is not definitive of personhood. It is precisely living organisms that have it, and cannot fail to have it. There is no separate ontological category of persons

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Monica Meijsing
Tilburg University

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