Perry's Dialogue on Personal Identity

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Sam Miller holds the theory that “same body is correlated with same soul” and claims that “the two are intimately related but not identical” (Perry, 371). One is material, it has shape and size, it could be seen, touched and perceived – that is the body; and the other one is immaterial, it has no shape, size or color, it cannot be perceived – that is the soul. He thinks that survival after death is possible. According to him, after the body dies, the soul that belongs to the death body, its consciousness, continues to live. It is the “non-physical, non-material aspects” of Gretchen that he “expects to see in thousand years in haven”. Gretchen on the other hand, argues the possibility of survival after death and questions the theory that “same body means same soul”. She can’t help but wonder how Sam is so sure that it is going to be her, the very same person, who Sam will meet in the “Hereafter”. She wonders how he is even sure that she is the same person now she was when he last saw her a week ago at lunch. According to her the principle “same body, same soul” is a “well-confirmed regulatory, not something known a priori, or something known by experience” (Perry, 372).

And why is it that we cannot know by experience that “same body correlates with same soul”? The answer I find in Gretchen’s question to Sam: “If you cannot see or touch or in any way perceive my soul, what makes you think the one you are confronted with now is the very same soul you were confronted with at Dorsey’s?” (Perry, 371). People say: “See it to believe it”. I find this saying quite applicable in this situation. It is hard for Gretchen to accept Sam’s theory that they will meet after her death and that it is going to be indeed her. It is hard for me to accept it as well. First of all, the body’s mind, its consciousness is not a matter. We cannot see it or touch it. If we happen to meet it again and again there is no way to know whether it is the same soul because we have never actually...
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