Metaphysics: Personal Identity

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  • Topic: Mind, Personal identity, Identity and change
  • Pages : 5 (1805 words )
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  • Published : March 13, 2013
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What is Roderick Chisholm's account of 'loose' identity through time, as opposed to 'strict' identity?
Roderick M. Chishlom uses several similar examples in order to showcase his mindset concerning one of the oldest philosophical topics regarding identity. Notion that everything is changing and constantly transforming has been explored both on philosophical and scientific levels. Constant recycling of materialistic particulars is a process that is happening on everyday bases. Even though the fact of transformation is pretty well known there is still an enigma surrounding on what is helping those transforming objects to keep there identity as they remain on specific consistent spatiotemporal tangent of universe. Ship of Theseus is one of the famous examples that showcases the ideology behind the problem of identity and is also used by Chisholm to start of his main theme of the piece which tackles directly with ‘loose’ and ‘strict’ sense of identity. Idea of the puzzle is that the Ship of Theseus, which was originally made out of wood, started to undergo constant change of parts and by the time it reached the aimed destination, aluminum parts replaced every chunk of the old ship that was once made out of wooden components. Now lets imagine a hypothetical ship that can be constructed directly from the disposed parts to the point where we end up with two identical ships, one made out of aluminum and one from original wooden parts. The puzzle makes us wonder which ship can be considered original. To supplement this puzzle with more mystery lets suppose that the captain of the ship vowed that if his original ship would ever sink to the bottom of the water he would go down with it. We have to wonder which ship he would choose assuming that we ended up with two hypothetically identical ships, one with original parts and other with newly acquired aluminum parts. In order to grapple with this puzzle one has to understand some idea behind ‘loose’ and ‘strict’ identities. Chishlom uses suggestion that was posed by Bishop Butler in which he spoke on the idea of loose and popular sense of reality versus strict and philosophical. Those two notions dictate two schools of thoughts that can be used in order to tackle with the puzzle. Strictly speaking everything undergoes some sort of change weather it is change of parts or change of personal characteristics, therefore in a very straight forward philosophical sense nothing remains the same in relation to its previous self, even if the change is slightest. Having said that it will be linguistically inconvenient to start identifying every particular thing with different name after every transformation that happens to the thing. For example if I had specific set of qualities 6 years ago that now I don’t posses should not necessarily imply that I am not the same substance based person that I was before, rather loosely speaking I am a successor of someone that I was specific years ago. Connection can be varied in degrees depending how much change I underwent since those years. Important point that comes out of this, is that language becomes more convenient when one is speaking loosely because it will be almost impossible to name every previous self of me after every single change that I underwent therefore making communication of thoughts and perceived reality more complicated. Chishlom therefore forms his own view on what Buttler meant when saying ‘loose and popular sense of identity compare to strict and philosophical. From his understanding if an object or a person follows a strict spatiotemporal road it does not matter how many changes this thing might undergo, what remains the same is that hypothetical trace that it is leaving which is helping that object to retain itself through time and change. Chishlom poses his own example involving a table. Lets assume that we have a table consisting of parts A and B. Lets suppose that on Monday that table...
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