Why Is Personal Identity Important in Locke's View?

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  • Topic: Self, Identity, John Doe
  • Pages : 4 (1594 words )
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  • Published : January 31, 2007
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In his essay Of Identity and Diversity, Locke talks about the importance of personal identity. The title of his essay gives an idea of his view. Identity, according to Locke, is the memory and self consciousness, and diversity is the faculty to transfer memories across bodies and souls. In order to make his point more understandable, Locke defines man and person. Locke identifies a man as an animal of a certain form and a person as a thinking intelligent being. Furthermore, to Locke, a person has reasons and reflections and can consider itself as being itself in different times and places; and he/she does it with his/her consciousness (429). Basically, personal self is a particular body and personal identity is consciousness. In this essay, one will only focus on personal identity since it is the one that is most important to Locke. First, one will discuss the reasons why personal identity is important to Locke. Then, one will highlight the strengths of he's position; in addition to that, one will draw attention to the weaknesses and limits of Locke's view to show that his theory about memory being the only element of personal identity is not that strong. Personal identity is the unity of consciousness and the unity of consciousness defines the person. Locke says "personal identity, the identity of the self overtime, depends on one's recalling of past experience and actions as one's own" (428). So if one remembers one's past memories, one is the same person. However, if one does not remember, one is the same man but a different person. In this case, the 85 years hold man (John Doe) does not remember the war crimes he committed when he was 20 years old, Locke would say that John is a different person now since he lost his memory; however, he is the same man. One of the reasons why personal identity is important to Locke is that he is concerned about the past and the future. He clearly states that all rights and justice of punishment and reward are founded in...
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