Essay on Establishing Personal Identity

Essay on Establishing Personal Identity

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All through life people strive to become someone with a specific identity; to be classified as a “somebody” rather than a “nobody”. This classification is most noted amongst high school students. Often youth identities are developed through the activities they participate in, the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, the band geek. Yet, people are not the activities they participated in in high school. People graduate, go to college, work toward a career, have children. Then at the ten year reunion, those same high school jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, and band geeks gather once again to reminisce over the past. These people are no longer the high school activities of the past nor are these people the activities they participate in currently. The personal identities of these people now, at this reunion, are judged by something different. The peers at the reunion do not look the same, but such qualitative identity is not important; a person does not have to look specifically the same to be the same person. Yet, how do peers judge a person’s identity, know James is still the same James and has survived time, besides the name tag he wears? Arguably, the most sufficient response to this question of personal identity is the use of the body criterion.

The problem of personal identity is based around the issue created in the high school reunion scenario. Indentifying a specific person as the same person from the events of the past can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, personal identity is important because personal relationships and often legal disputes are built around definite identity. In order to completely identify that a person who existed ten years ago or even yesterday is the same person who exists at this moment, a cri...


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...ven if memories were able to be transported to another entity after death, the psychological elements of identity would not be able to be transferred and would more likely require recreation. Consequently, the memory/psychological criterion does not allow for survival after death either. Thus the objection of survival after death does not sufficiently reject one criterion over the other.

Personal identity does not reside in the activities a person participates in throughout life. As argued, personal identity should actually be defined by the elements of the modified body criterion because this criterion most sufficiently accounts for both the subjective and objective experience of identity. Due to the modified body criterion, the peers at the high school reunion are able to identify James as the same person after ten years, even without the name tag he wears.

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