Some will say that "the sum of a person" includes:

  • Actions.
  • Character, virtues.
  • Experiences, memories.
  • Abilities.

Is there a single term to mean this?

  • 2
    Some related words I've seen in Philosophy are soul ("the incorporeal and, in many conceptions, immortal essence of a person"), identity, self, and essence ("attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity"). Are any of these close to what you're looking for?
    – user39720
    Feb 11, 2014 at 5:50
  • Some will indeed say 'the sum of a person'. Feb 11, 2014 at 7:20
  • 1
    Others will just say "person."
    – user867
    Feb 14, 2014 at 0:54
  • The question can not be answered precisely as it assumes things which aren't true. Few people would consider the 'sum of a man' to include his memories for example.
    – Carl Smith
    Feb 17, 2014 at 21:10
  • @CarlSmith Yet if you take all a man's memories, can he really be called the same man? More to the point, regardless of whether "the sum of a person" does include the items listed, there might be a word that does mean that - and that's what the OP is asking for.
    – user867
    Feb 18, 2014 at 3:20

9 Answers 9


It is called personality.

The totality of qualities and traits, as of character or behavior, that are peculiar to a specific person.

(Psychology) psychol the sum total of all the behavioural and mental characteristics by means of which an individual is recognized as being unique

As you opened a bounty, you might be looking for something beyond personality. Then, we have to go beyond the usual vocabulary and enter the realm of philosophy and ontology.

There is quiddity:

the essential nature or quality of something that makes it different and distinct from other things and establishes its identity

and a similar term in meaning, haecceity:

the essence that makes something the kind of thing it is and makes it different from any other

There are various similar terms; and thoughts of philosophers on these terms.

Wikipedia adds that:

While terms such as haecceity, quiddity, noumenon and hypokeimenon all evoke the essence of a thing, they each have subtle differences and refer to different aspects of the thing's essence.

In conclusion, it all comes to the same thing, essence; but in my opinion, personality encompasses the essence. Essence is what you are born into but personality is what you become.

  • 2
    In psychology, personality is somewhat more specific. For example, abilities or intelligence would not typically be considered a part of it.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:09
  • Actions or experiences would also most likely not be considered a part of your personality.
    – TylerH
    Feb 17, 2014 at 21:56

I would have to make a vote for the "Self".

The "Self" is the sum of a person's characteristics, traits, etc.

You refer to yourself, myself, himself, herself, etc. as a stand-in for people's existence.

It is the essence of being personified. (Although, if you weren't seeking a one-word answer, I'd vote for that phrase . . . It rolls off the tongue nicely.)

There is an excellent article on Wikipedia about the Philosophy of Self.

And one from About.com


My suggestion is nature. From the Collins Online dictionary, one of its primary meanings is

1.the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character

but it also has the meanings of tendencies of behaviour, disposition and temperament.


Consider the term gestalt. American Heritage defines it as

A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts.

Merriam-Webster adds

broadly : the general quality or character of something

It has been appropriated directly from German, meaning

shape, form, figure, configuration, appearance

As currently used, especially in psychology, the term conveys more than merely a collection recitation of all of the discrete elements that go into system (whether that be an individual or some other complex mechanism).

I think that the question carries an implication that the sum of a person is more that a simple compilation of elements.


The thing that separates persons from all other animals is our ability to view the world in the past, present and future. This ability allows us to learn from our past mistakes, progress in the present and imagine the future. I would suggest a word to be "Human Being".


I would say: "yourself/myself"

That should cover all, even if is not that romantical.


Isn't this "spirit" (the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character)?


There is the idiomatic phrase whole package. Referring to the whole package when describing a person would be to refer to all of their attributes.

Here is an example of how it might be used:

When you choose your mate, you get the whole package - all the good qualities and the bad, the sum of their life experiences, all of their strengths and all of their weaknesses.

There are also a couple of variants, such as total package and complete package. Generally calling someone the total package is to describe them as someone who has all of the best qualities.

If you are looking for a single word, you might consider just package. The previous example be rewritten like this:

When you choose your mate, you get a package - that package consists of all the good qualities and the bad, the sum of their life experiences, all of their strengths and all of their weaknesses.


I think psyche fits nicely your definition ("pyche is the totality of the human mind, conscious, and unconscious"), and to a lesser degree soul.

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