Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist
What is a Person?

What is a Person?
Realities, Constructs, Illusions

$39.99 (G)

  • Publication planned for: March 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from March 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108478076

$ 39.99 (G)

Pre-order Add to wishlist

Looking for an examination copy?

This title is not currently available for examination. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In this book, John Rist offers an account of the concept of “person” as it has developed in the West, and how it has become alien in a post-Christian culture. He begins by identifying the 'Mainline Tradition' about persons as it evolved from the time of Plato to the High Middle Ages, then turns to successive attacks on it in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, then proceeds to the 'Five Ways' in which the Tradition was savaged or distorted in the nineteenth century and beyond.  He concludes by considering whether ideas from contemporary philosophical movements, those that combine a closer analysis of human nature with a more traditional metaphysical background may enable the Tradition to be restored. A timely book on a theme of universal significance, Rist ponders whether we persons matter, and how we have reached a position where we are not sure whether we do.

    • Offers an account of the concept of “person” as it has developed in the West, and how it has become alien in a post-Christian culture
    • Considers whether we have rights as persons, whether we 'matter', and how we have reached a position where we are not sure whether we do
    • The Appendix provides an additional space to explore contemporary claims about human rights
    Read more

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Publication planned for: March 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108478076
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • availability: Not yet published - available from March 2020
  • Table of Contents

    Part I: Constructing the 'Mainline Tradition'
    1. The First Foundations: Plato and Aristotle
    2. From Stoic Individuals and Personae to Christian Persons
    3. Mixtures: Plotinus, Porphyry, Nemesius
    4. Augustine's Personae: Theology, Metaphysics, History
    5. The Definition: Boethius and Richard of Saint Victor
    6. Toward a Synthesis: Thomas Aquinas
    7. Between Two Worlds: Duns Scotus
    Part II: No God, no Soul
    What Person?
    8. Virtue, 'Virtue', Rights
    9. Descartes on Soul, Self, Mind, Nature
    10. Personal Identity from Hobbes to Locke
    11. After Locke
    12. Sympathy or Empathy: Richardson, Hume, Smith
    13. Ambiguous Rousseau's Soul and 'Moi' 
    14. Kant's Rational Autonomy
    Part III: Toward Disabling the Person
    15. Introducing the Five Ways
    16. Assimilation and Homogenization
    17. The Way of Prometheus
    18. Whistling in the Humanitarian Wind
    19. Virtual Morality: Propaganda as Social Glue
    20. The Way to an Absolute Nihilism
    Part IV: Persons Restored or Final Solution?
    21. Parfit and Heidegger
    22. Strawson and Nagel
    23. Personalism, Phenomenology, Edith Stein
    24. God Made Adam and Eve.

  • Author

    John M. Rist, University of Toronto
    John Rist is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Toronto. Author of more than a dozen books and over a hundred articles on ancient philosophy, patristics, and ethics,  he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Aquinas Medalist of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.



Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.