Perry's Dialogue

Topics: Mind, Consciousness, Ontology Pages: 4 (1530 words) Published: November 14, 2012
In Perry’s Dialogue, he introduces three fictional characters to explore the concept of personal identity. This topic arises as the character, Gretchen Weirob, lays on her deathbed seeking consolation from her friend, Sam Miller, and former student, Dave Cohen, to discuss the possibility of her survival after death. Weirob’s view is that people are identified by their bodies and that their continued existence relies on the existence of their living bodies (Perry, 319). In this paper, I will argue on behalf of her viewpoint approaching personal identity through Locke’s memory theory using the distinction that real memory can only be associated with the body experiencing it. Personal identity has proven to be a very controversial topic in this dialogue. By the second night, it was argued to be defined neither by the bodily existence nor the existence of an immaterial soul (320). Instead, identity is approached by the concept of person-stages (322). This idea implies that a person lives in consecutive stretches of consciousness connected in a logical manner. In this case, each stretch of consciousness indicates the all thoughts and emotions experienced by a person at a given moment in time (322). This leads to the Memory Theory of personal identity, which Miller suggested according to his readings on Locke. It basically states that all the past events occurring within this stream of consciousness forms memory and our personal identity consists of the accumulation of memory that can be traced linearly through it (322). Weirob was not able to find any flaws in this theory.

However, many flaws would surface without the examination of what constitutes as memory? Weirob brings up the comparison of real and apparent memory due to the possibility of deception where a person may “seems to remember” (323) something entirely inaccurate. Real memory is then defined as an experience remembered by the person who was present at the time of that experience(324). Apparent...
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