John Locke And Rene Descartes ' Views On Personal Identity Essay

John Locke And Rene Descartes ' Views On Personal Identity Essay

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Many of the problems of philosophy are thousands of years old just like the argument of personal identity. In philosophy the problems that are often more important that one solution. They are ways of seeking an understanding. John Locke and René Descartes’ views of personal identity helps one increase the understanding of our self. John Locke’s answer to the problem is that there is a sameness in body overtime. His views can be found in his work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” René Descartes’ views on personal identity can be found in his “Meditations on First Philosophy.”
According to John Locke, the 17th century philosopher, identity means being one thing and not another. It’s what makes you, you and me, me. This leads to many different questions. If time is always changing, how can you know that you are still you? Locke’s principle of individualization is the answer. It is the idea that a person keeps the same identity over time. Locke went through a great deal to determine what identity is not. It is not made up of material substance. If your physical body was altered it would not mean you wee a new person. Locke believed our identity was tied to our consciousness. He states in his Essay, “since consciousness always accompanies thinking, and it is that which makes every one to be what he calls self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal identity.” (Locke, 9) Consciousness equals memories. If we lose weight, get plastic surgery, or cut your hair. We still have the same memories as before our appearance changed. That being said, memories give us our identity. Locke believes that a human is a collection of matter but a person is one’s self. He suggests that...


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...ody dualism. Locke introduces a self awareness that should be considered. The Locke understanding is when a person can become aware of the present and past. Descartes view sticks with ideas while Locke’s view tackles experience. The major issue with Locke’s argument of memory is the gaps of time that a person does not remember. It does not makes sense that if a person can only remember their self from when they were five years old then that’s when their identity starts. Locke leaves a lot of questions unanswered when it comes to the topic of memory. While Locke provides a solution to a problem, Descartes gives the truth in a simple and easier way to understand. Through their ideas on senses, doubt, dreams, consciousness and memories we are left with a deeper understanding of self. Both philosophers provide answers to personal identity concerns that are present today.

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