John Locke on Personal Identity Essay

John Locke on Personal Identity Essay

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I will argue that Locke believed that if you remain the same person, there are various entities contained in my body and soul composite that do not remain the same over time, or that we can conceive them changing. These entities are matter, organism (human), person (rational consciousness and memory), and the soul (immaterial thinking substance). This is a intuitive interpretation that creates many questions and problems. I will evaluate Locke's view by explaining what is and what forms personal identity, and then explaining how these changes do conceivably occur while a human remains the same person.
Locke believed that the identity of a person could be assigned to the consciousness. He thought that a person would remain the same as long as their consciousness continues to be the same over the course of their life: “Consciousness always accompanies thinking, and makes everyone to be what he calls ‘self’ and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things; in this alone consists personal identity, i.e. the sameness of a rational being; and as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far reaches the identity of that person” (Essay II.xxvii.9). Locke believes that your body and your personality do not determine your identity. Instead, you can know that a person is the same person as long as their consciousness continues to be the same over the course of their life.
Locke believed that the identity of a person has the sameness of the consciousness: “What makes a man be himself to himself is sameness of consciousness, so personal identity depends entirely on that—whether the consciousness is tied to one substance throughout or rather is continued in a series of different su...


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...he coma, so when they awake from it and do not remember anything, can they still be considered a different person? As they slowly begin to remember things, but not everything, is their consciousness becoming a different one, are they forming a new identity as they begin to remember things? Another example would be if there is a red painted car, that also has motion as it is moving on the highway. It suddenly breaks down due to some malfunction, and it also begins to rain. The rain washes off the red paint making the car white. Does it now become a completely different car now that it is no longer in motion and it's colour has changed? The car itself is still fit for its purpose (driving it) and capable given the certain conditions. So is the car now a completely different car, or is it still the same car? This is one aspect that can be questioned from Locke's view.


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