John Locke: The Problem Of Personal Identity

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The Problem of the Problem of Personal Identity Throughout the years, the notion of personal identity has captured the attention of many philosophers. One such philosopher, John Locke, attempted to solve the problem in his book, Essays Concerning Human Understanding, in which he provides his definition of what personal identity should be considered as. This idea has not come without its fair share of criticism, however. Antony Flew, a contemporary English philosopher, attempted to show that Locke’s notion of personal identity was severely flawed. It is my intention to show that Locke was not incorrect in his ideas, but rather the apparent flaws in his work are merely due to his writings being misinterpreted by Flew. Before delving into Flew’s…show more content…
With this being said, it is not enough for us to say that someone is the same person as a past memory, seeing as their memory could in fact be grossly mistaken. For example: Say my brother and I went on a fishing trip when we were boys. On this trip, my brother caught a huge fish, whereas I caught nothing. However, upon reeling in his huge catch, my brother required my assistance getting the fish into the boat. As the years have passed, I seem to have lost a clear memory of the incidence, such that I know remember (honestly, not truthfully) being the one who caught the fish. Does this mere fact of memory constitute that my identity now is the same as the identity of the fish-catcher? We should all be inclined to answer no. At this point, it might seem as though Locke’s definition is in trouble, but recall that Flew has made a potentially problematic assumption in replacing ‘be conscious of’ with ‘remember’. It is this point that I shall now direct my
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