Personal Identity According to Locke

Topics: Mind, René Descartes, Psychology Pages: 4 (1279 words) Published: November 18, 2008
On Personal Identity:

The issue of personal identity and its determents has been always an issue of concern for a lot of philosophers. John Locke was one of the philosophers who were against the Cartesian theory that soul accounts for personal identity. He stated that if the soul is the determinant of personal identity then what if two people share the same soul, and wondered if in this case they will be the same person. Locke used the example of Caster and Pollux who share the same soul to proof that soul can't be used to determine personal identity. Then he states that also the body can't be used to account for personal identity claiming a person will remain the same person even if his body changes. As a result, he concluded that personal identity is determined by ones consciousness and defined personal identity as unity of self consciousness tied together with memory. Locke believes that consciousness of the present as well as past through memory enables a person to distinguish himself from others. There are several philosophers who criticized the Locken memory theory, and stated that it is circular and illogical. Among those philosophers was Thomas Reid. Reid was against Locke's memory theory and tried to reduce it to absurdity. He criticized his theories for several reasons. Firstly, Reid believed that personal identity is something that cannot be determined by operations, and that personal identity should be determined by something indivisible. Also, he states that Locke's main problem is confusing evidence of something with the thing itself. Finally Reid introduces the officer paradox in an attempt to reduce Locke's Memory theory to Absurdity. Reid criticizes Locke by arguing that what Locke does is confuses evidence of the thing with the thing itself, or in other words, he confuses evidence for personal identity with personal identity itself. Locke believes that memory is the best evidence for identity, if a person remembers what he does then he knows...
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