Locke’s Question of Self-Identity
The essential question of who we are as people, our own personal identity, has been central to the philosophy of many thinkers. The answer to this question will ultimately decide life and death, as one’s ability to exist is dependent on their nature. John Locke tackled this issue throughout his Essay Concerning Human Understanding and it remains a central tenant of his empiricist doctrine. One can begin to understand the nature of things over time by asking a simple question; what makes objects in the past, distinct or the same as time evolves? How can one distinguish between a piece of chalk seen two days ago, from the one that currently exists today? Locke’s perspective is one of an empiricist …show more content…
One is only conscious of past, present and future thought and we are the same person to the extent our consciousness takes us. Personal identity is only found in the repeated act of consciousness. For example, one may claim to be a reincarnation of Socrates, meaning they possess the same soul and substance. However, in order for one to truly be Socrates, they would need to possess the same consciousness of action and thought. Therefore, self-identity is not based on the soul as it can have many different personalities. The true foundation of personal identity is rooted in the consciousness of thought and action, something that transcends the material substance of soul. Locke’s argument for personal identity can be structured according to the format …show more content…
Atoms are individual in substance and separate in space.
2. Atoms stay the same over time.
3. Matter and mass are separate from atoms and are individuated by their function and not their particles.
4. Living things constitute matter and can stay the same over time regardless of particle change.
5. Living things can stay the same as their atoms