Personal Identity- Philosphy

Topics: Mind, Psychology, Cognition Pages: 3 (1036 words) Published: March 28, 2012
It is easy to see oneself as the same person we were ten, twenty, or fifty years ago. We can define identity through our physical presence, life experiences, memories, and mental awareness of self. One can testify our persistence as a person through our existence as a person. But what makes us the same person? In this paper, I will argue for the “simple” view of the persistence of identity – that it is impossible to determine what single thing that makes us the same person over time. I will support my claim with the refutation of the main complex view claims of the body, brain and psychological continuity criterion. Entrenched in the “simple” view is the idea that personal identity, and the persistence of personal identity, cannot be measured through philosophical discourse or scientific investigation. There are a number of opposing arguments, known as complex theories of personal identity. In each of these arguments, the central claim is that either the body, the brain, or the psychological continuity of an individual determines how they persist as the same person (Garrett, 1998, p 52). To call them complex is a misnomer – for each is far too narrow to properly define and explain personal identity. Complex argument 1– Psychological continuity

John Locke defines a person as a ‘thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places’ (Locke, 1689, p 1-6). This statement suggests that, in order to persist as the same person, we must have a mental consciousness which persists through time. We can say that a person is psychologically continuous if they have a mental state that is descendent from their previous mental states. For example, this theory states that a five-year-old will be the same person when they are a 25-year-old, because their mental state in later years is descendent from their earlier years. Counter argument

By its very nature, the idea of psychological...
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