Personal Identity

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Tiffani Rorras
Mrs. Ray
HZT- 4U1
March 30, 2011

Analytical Summary “Of Personal Identity” by Joseph Butler In the reading of “Personal Identity” by Joseph Butler, we are able to isolate a controversy discussed by two philosophical minds. Butler and Locke, discuss whether identity can be seen through ones actions or ones consciences. One can ask is identity is an object that can attained or quality that can be seen through ones actions? Identity is a characteristic that can be seen through ones personal beliefs and moral grounds. Locke argues that identity is based ones conscience, thus proving that identity is based on ones beliefs and moral grounds.

Through Butlers reading “Of Personal Identity”, one is able to take part in the philosophical debate of identity. Firstly, one must discuss Butlers opinion and views in order to prove that identity can be seen through ones beliefs and moral grounds. Butlers view on identity stems from the memory theory which states that one’s actions in the past will reflect ones action in the future (Butler, 100). For example Butler discusses an analogy how ones memory of a tree reflects how identity is viewed (Butler, 100). The tree as the object is viewed as the personal identity rather than the substance of the tree. This analogy goes against what Locke believes as Locke would view personal identity through the substance rather than the object. Thus a philosophical debate rises through Locke’s opposing view.

The argument as described in the reading takes form of three main points. The first argument suggests that one cannot change their conduct based on health or even identity as it is a natural part of them. Although, it also suggests that one can learn from today to make tomorrow better (Butler, 103). The second argument discusses how one is continually existing is their life while their identity is not altered. Finally, the third argument suggests that every person’s identity is the same regardless how far back one...
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