"Medieval Mystics on Persons: What John Locke Didn’t Tell You"

In Persons: a History. Oxford: pp. 123-153 (2019)
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The 13th-15th centuries were witness to lively and broad-ranging debates about the nature of persons. In this paper, I look at how the uses of ‘person’ in logical/grammatical, legal/political, and theological contexts overlap in the works of 13th-15th century contemplatives in the Latin West, such as Hadewijch, Meister Eckhart, and Catherine of Siena. After explicating the key concepts of individuality, dignity, and rationality, I show how these ideas combine with the contemplative use of first- and second-person perspectives, personification, and introspection to yield a concept of 'person' that both prefigures Locke's classic 17th century definition and deeply influences the development of personalism.
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Archival date: 2020-11-27
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