John Locke 's Personal Identity Essay

1617 Words Oct 2nd, 2015 7 Pages
Locke’s Essays on Human Understanding continue to be taught, discussed and debated today. In particular, Locke’s personal identity theory is considered to still be extremely relevant in modern times. In personal identity theory Locke explains the distinction between the definition of words, such as human, person and substance, which he claims are often used to convey the same meaning. Then Locke discusses the main factor that suggests the sameness of personal identity – consciousness, and explains various scenarios in which personal identity remains the same, as well as circumstances when it does not. Despite Locke’s extensive theories, the inconsistencies with pre-existing theories and confusion about whether consciousness alone is a strong enough cause for personal identity call into question the validity and soundness of his arguments.

Locke’s argument on personal identity discusses the factors that make up a person, and the criteria Locke believes is necessary for an individual to be considered the same person they were in the past. In order to understand Locke’s argument to the fullest extent it is important to appreciate his distinction between the human, the substance, and the person. In Locke’s essays he states that “to conceive and judge correctly about identity, we must consider what idea the word it is applied to stands for: it is one thing to be the same substance, another the same man, and a third the same person, if ‘person’, ‘man’, and ‘substance’ are names…

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