Category Archives: Person

People Persons

[courtesy Google Images]

[courtesy Google Images]

‘ll bet that I’ve been listening to debates and arguments about the meaning, nature and possible disabilities of the term “person” for 25 years.  Even after all of that commotion, the meaning and implications of the word “person” is still not precisely clear to me.

However, last night I was reading the Bill of Rights and realized that the key to understanding the constitutional concept of “persons” might be found in the Fourth Amendment to The Constitution of the United States.  That Amendment declares,


“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”


Note that the “people” have “persons”.  “Persons” are not “people’.  Instead, “persons” are attributes or capacities of “people”.  “People” are real and primary; “persons” are relational, derivative and/or secondary.

While it’s possible that each of the “people” has only one correlative “person,” I doubt that’s true.

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“In person”–or “in the flesh”?

Frog Legs [courtesy Google Images]

Frog Legs
[courtesy Google Images]

•  I received the following email from a reader (I added the bold highlights):


“Hi Al,

“I recently had an interesting experience in court that I would like to share with you.

“In a nut shell, I gummed up the works with the judge by stating that I was present “in the flesh.” She was literally tossing and turning in her seat, visibly frustrated and was searching for ways to regain control of the situation.

“I believe that the judge was trying to find a way to have me make an appearance in court “in person” or by representing myself (my self?), so that she could administer the trust account.

I said that I was not representing any artificial persons, that I do not make appearances in court by paper and that I was present “in the flesh.”

“Perhaps by me stating that I was present in the flesh, it had some effect which rendered her unable to proceed.

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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Fictions, Person


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Persons Owning Persons

"Persons . . .  persons who OWN persons . . .  are the GREEDIEST persons . . . in the world."

“Persons . . . persons who OWN persons . . . are the GREEDIEST persons . . . in the world.”

I recently received the following email:

Hi Alfred,
After reading your blog and others I have been doing some thinking. I was on a long drive yesterday and I came to a realization. If corporations are people and enjoy the privileges of being people then how can they own other corporations?  Isn’t that the textbook definition of slavery?


I replied, in part, as follows:

Hi Christian,

That’s an interesting insight, but it’s mistaken in this regard:  Corporations are not “people”—they’re “persons“.

I.e., you and I are deemed to be flesh and blood “people” under our “Declaration of Independence,” State constitutions and the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States.  However, under the 14th Amendment (“All persons born or naturalized . . . ,” adopted A.D. 1868) we are presumed to be “persons“.  Later, in some Supreme Court case, the Supremes implied that corporations are also “persons”.

Nevertheless, you’re right.  It’s intriguing to see that at least some “persons” (living, flesh-and-blood, like you and I) can own other “persons” (corporations and other legal fictions).  The fact that at least some persons can be owned, bought and sold indicates that at least some “persons” (fictions) are things rather than “people” (men and women made in God’s image and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights).

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A Respecter of Persons?

Tragedy, Comedy

Tragedy, Comedy are “masks” or “personae” that we where IN RELATION TO others. (Photo credit: Phil W Shirley)

“A Woman Created in His Image” posted a comment on this blog.  I started to reply.  The reply grew and even began to touch on a few insights I hadn’t previously considered.  I thought my reply might be interesting to the general audience for this blog, so I’m posting my reply as an “article”:


Although there are multiple definitions for “person,” I understand the term to usually signify a man or woman in relation to some other man, women, men, women, institution, etc.  More, when you see one “person,” you must see two.  A “person” does not exist in isolation, but always in relation to that other man, woman, institution, etc.  Thus, if I’m a “person” in relation to you, then you are a “person” in relation to me.  Insofar as we both participate in a certain relationship, we are both “persons” whenever we engage in that particular relationship.   When we do enter into that relationship, we are expected to wear a “mask” or “persona” of the “part” that we are playing.

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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Fictions, Lies, Person


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Noam Chomsky on Corporate Personhood

Chomsky at the World Social Forum (Porto Alegr...

Image via Wikipedia

Noam Chomsky is a noted “liberal” whose politics lean to the “left”.  His criticism of “corporate personhood” is interesting in that it indicates common ground between the complaints of the “liberals” and the complaints of the “legal reform community”–who are also trying to avoid “corporate personhood”.

Insofar as the the far-right and liberals both agree that corporate personhood is bad, we might be watching the beginnings of an “idea whose time has come”.

video    00:08:18

1 Comment

Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Corporations, Fascism, Person, Resistance, Video


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Speculation on “Persons,” Emergency, and the Obligation to Pay Taxes and Fines

Comedy & Tragedy

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

One of my readers left the following comment under one of my articles:

“In your opinion, does the definition of person enter the picture. I am not sure what you mean by “capacity” of person. I am in New Mexico and here the word, person, in the New Mexico Criminal Code & the word person in the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Code is different. I am not a person as defined in the N.M.M.V.D. Code but it certainly appears that I am a person as defined in the N.M. Criminal Code.  In trying to explain this to a police officer a while back, he immediately called somebody & said: ‘I have a person here that says he is not a person.’”


That comment got me thinking.  I started to write a brief “reply” to try to briefly explain my understanding of “person”.  But my reply continued to grow until I realized that it was not a mere “reply,” but (at least) the germ of an article.  In fact, this article has grown to about 7,500 words, and veered off from mere “persons” to speculate on the significance of emergency, treason, genocide and even our obligation to pay income taxes and traffic fines.  The article is long and unfocused because many of the “insights” are coming to me for the first time, as I write.  But, despite the rambling nature, I think the article offers some insight (or at least conjecture) that you may find interesting.

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