Date of Award

8-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Auxier, Randall

Abstract

This thesis elaborates a notion of Bergsonian personhood that is particularly well suited for understanding the corporate person. Personalists have contributed much to the study of personhood, but they also fail to fully embrace the image of the embodied person offered by Bergson, from which their work appears to emerge. My concern for freedom is part of what animates this study, but I am not framing a new theory of freedom. Rather, I am trying to bring a broader conception of what freedom means to bear on the subject of personhood. To this end, I present the work of Bergson. I distinguish the terms ‘self’ and ‘person,’ defending self as being more properly outlined by the subjective and fleeting nature of the individual. Then, I discuss Bergson’s connections to personalism, with particular attention to the tradition that grew out of Boston University at the turn of the 20th century. Finally, I give a Bergsonian account of personhood that emphasizes the self’s freedom of creative expression, richly connected to its environment, which is elaborated over time in a movement of becoming personal. I make the case that Bergson’s treatments of self and person greatly aid our investigations into personhood socially, legally, and philosophically.

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