This week I read Kevin Simler’s Personhood: A Game for Two or More Players, a sociological essay on what it means to be a person. It’s a really interesting piece, of the type that makes me pause every few paragraphs in order to highlight a really interesting point. For example, this explanation of the benefits of personhood:
Being a person entitles you to conduct yourself among persons. Or to be more precise: The more personhood you display, the more you’ll be welcome in the society of persons.
And what I thought to be a quite brilliant summary of transitioning to adulthood in society:
A large part of growing up consists of internalizing the social consequences of failing to maintain integrity.
He also talks about personhood in terms of being a fictional construct, which I found particularly interesting because I’ve recently finished reading Yuval Harari’s book, Sapiens, which also talks about culture and humanity in terms of fictions. But I’ll write more about that separately.
Personhood is always a fiction: the fiction of being a consistent, singular agent.
I probably haven’t done the article justice with my choice of quotes here. It’s really quite fascinating, and I recommend it to you.