A person is a being, such as a human, that has certain capacities or attributes constituting personhood, which in turn is defined differently by different authors in different disciplines, and by different cultures in different times and places.
In ancient Rome, the word "persona" (Latin) or "prosopon" (πρόσωπον: Greek) originally referred to the masks worn by actors on stage. The various masks represented the various "personae" in the stage play. The concept of a "person" was further developed during the Trinitarian and Christological debates of the first through sixth centuries. Since then, a number of important changes to the word's meaning and use have taken place, and attempts have been made to redefine the word with varying degrees of adoption and influence.
In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as he or she was or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.
The common plural of "person", "people", is often used to refer to an entire nation or ethnic group (as in "a people"), so the plural "persons" is often used in contexts which require precision such as philosophical and legal writing.
Famous quotes containing the word person:
“Each person is a graveyard of his thoughts. They are most beautiful for us in the moment of their birth; later we can often sense a deep pain that they leave us indifferent where earlier they enchanted us.”
—Robert Musil (18801942)
“Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a childs future. A childs self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry.”
—Stephanie Martson (20th century)
“Finding everything deepthat is an inconvenient trait: it causes a person constantly to strain his eyes and eventually to find out more than he might have wished.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)