Who Are You, Really?: A Philosopher's Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Persons, By Joshua Rasmussen

Who Are You, Really?

A Philosopher's Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Persons

by Joshua Rasmussen

Who Are You, Really?
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: March 21, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0394
  • ISBN: 9781514003947

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What does it mean to be human? What is a person? Where did we come from?

Many answers have been offered throughout history in response to these perennial questions, including those from biological, anthropological, sociological, political, and theological approaches. And yet the questions remain.

Philosopher Joshua Rasmussen offers his own step-by-step examination into the fundamental nature and ultimate origin of persons. Using accessible language and clear logic, he argues that the answer to the question of what it means to be a person sheds light not only on our own nature but also on the existence of the one who gave us life.

"In Who Are You, Really?, Joshua Rasmussen probes vexing philosophical problems related to the meaning and nature of personhood. He considers issues we take completely for granted—concerns like thinking, feeling, willing, and personal identity—and lays bare many problems that the casual thinker would never have known were there. He then does a masterful job of engaging these problems using the light of critical introspection. Though he leans heavily on the power of such introspection, I think his results justify the weight he has placed on it. All in all, it is an excellent work that I heartily recommend."

Rick Langer, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Joshua Rasmussen is a treasured friend and esteemed colleague. Based on the quality of his work, he is regarded as an elite philosopher among secular and Christian scholars alike. But he is much more than that. Joshua is a warm-hearted Jesus follower with a passion to help thoughtful believers and with the skills to take difficult topics and make them accessible. Who Are You, Really? is the fruit of these abilities. With fresh, original, perceptive insight, this book addresses the central question that underlies most of the issues debated in contemporary culture and the academy. Having specialized in philosophy of mind and theological anthropology for decades, I can confidently say that there is nothing like this book. With fairness and rigor, Rasmussen carefully works through all the issues and arguments fundamental to his topic. Happily, he does all of this while making the book marvelously accessible. This should be a required text in all Christian colleges and seminaries, and it is must-read for all who care about this crucial subject."

J. P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and author of The Soul: How We Know It Is Real and Why It Matters

"Who Are You, Really? is beautifully written and very well organized! Overall, I think this is an excellent book. It makes a core assumption about the nature of matter very clear, and it shows brilliantly what follows."

Eric Steinhart, professor of philosophy at William Paterson University and author of Believing in Dawkins: The New Spiritual Atheism

"The question, What does it take to be conscious? has two senses. What does consciousness involve? Where does consciousness come from? In this stimulating book, Joshua Rasmussen addresses both. As with How Reason Can Lead to God, he again shows his considerable skill in delving deep into philosophy in an inviting and engaging manner. Rasmussen takes the reader on a journey into some of the central topics in philosophy to help us understand something of great importance: ourselves."

Kevin Timpe, William H. Jellema Chair in Christian Philosophy at Calvin University

"Josh Rasmussen is one of the deepest and most interesting thinkers of our time. He is one of the leaders of a new generation of philosophers building a more conciliatory and fruitful dialogue between believers and atheists. Who Are You, Really? is a novel and intriguing exploration of some of the biggest questions of human existence. It's essential reading for anyone interested in consciousness and what it means to be a human being."

Philip Goff, associate professor of philosophy at Durham University

"Professor Rasmussen's new book is both a pleasure to read and a welcome change of pace. You will find here a rare achievement: it is written in a style that will engage both students and philosophers, and it presents original ways to explore and defend a mind-first ontology. Rasmussen's flair for new ideas is fully on display. Challenging current physicalist conceptions of the mind, he articulates a conception of personal identity that combines ancient spiritual ideas with novel ways to understand physical reality."

Evan Fales, University of Iowa

"As we have come to expect, Josh Rasmussen has written another volume that is clear, carefully reasoned, and illuminating, and it is full of marvelous analogies and accessible illustrations. Rasmussen's account of personhood and its origin, and what constitutes personal identity, is not only masterful in its logically structural layout; it is also modest, wise, engaging, and persuasive. A fine work!"

Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University and author of A Little Book for New Philosophers

Read an Excerpt


1. Introducing the Inquiry

Part One: The Nature of You
2. Your Feelings
3. Your Thoughts
4. Your Sight
5. Your Will
6. Your Value
7. Your Body
8. Your Self

Part Two: The Origin of You
9. The Construction Problem
10. The Binding Problem
11. The Identity Problem
12. How Consciousness Can Emerge
13. Your Ultimate Origin
14. Conclusion

General Index


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Joshua Rasmussen

Joshua Rasmussen (PhD, Notre Dame) is associate professor of philosophy at Azusa Pacific University. He is the author of How Reason Can Lead to God, Defending the Correspondence Theory of Truth, and The Bridge of Reason, coauthor of Necessary Existence and Is God the Best Explanation of Things?: A Dialogue, and coeditor of A New Theist Response to the New Atheists.