In a well-argued recent guest post and follow up comment, Greg Spendlove argued that for all we know, there could be a property (feature) which is also a person / self / personal being.
As I explain in my comments there, I’m not convinced - I think we’re on firm ground to deny the alleged possibility, but I loved his example of Hooloovoo – author Douglas Adam’s “hyperintelligent shade of blue”.
Thanks to Ieuan for the use of his beautiful photos here. When I found them, I thought they were a great picture of a Hooloovoo. I’m not sure that’s right, though. A shade of blue is a universal, but the blue thing in any of the pics is a particular (mass of water and ink) or at least a group of particulars. According to the theory of universals, it or they would “instantiate” the shade of blue property, the universal. So, what is in the picture, would not be Hooloovoo himself, but would rather be an instance or instantiation of him. Maybe also an incarnation of him?
Greg also mentioned this contest at the Matters of Substance blog: Alex Pruss is offering the princely sum of $50 in Amazon currency for the best argument that no property is a person.
It seems that Alex is gearing up to take on the strongest entries. Good luck with that!
Not believing in properties, I can’t get too excited about the contest myself; as Alex points out, if there are no properties, then there isn’t any property which is also a self. But I must say that on the assumption of realism about (universal) properties, a number of the arguments strike me as very plausible – so much so that it’d be difficult for a theological argument (that a person is a property) to be as plausible.