Personal Identity Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:06:56
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Category: Identity

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Who am I? Descartes answer was simply I am a mind (sum res cogitans). Descartes arrived at this answer by introspection by looking inside himself.

David Hume offered a brilliant critique of the idea that one can find ones self through introspection.  When I turn my reflection on myself, I never can perceive this self without some one or more perceptions; nor can I ever perceive anything but the perceptions. It is the composition of these, therefore, which forms the self. (Treatise, Appendix)

In other words, we have no direct knowledge of or experience of the self; we only have knowledge of particular sensations, memories, and so on.  We must suppose that there is something that underlies or bundles together these sensations, and that is the self.

Personal Identity

When philosophers talk about personal identity, they are asking how it is that two distinct persons can be the same.

Lets have persons a and b. Suppose a = you (aged 16) and b = you (now).  What makes you remain the same person?

You are the same person over time because you have the same soul (dualism), also, if and only if you have access to the same store of memories, if there is a continuity of your organism (Animalism) and if and only if you have the same brain view over time.

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