The Works Of David Locke's Theory Of Personal Identity

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An Analysis on Personal Identity The philosophical question of who I am, or personal identity is an arduous question to answer. There are two questions that derive in personal identity. What makes these memories or mental events mine? And what how do these events unify into making me the same person I was yesterday, or ten years ago? This essay will go over the works of John Locke, considered to be the first philosopher to give a theorem in regards to personal identity, Thomas Reid, who created the common sense philosophy, and his contemporary, David Hume, who contributes to Personal Identity with both impressions and perceptions. It is in my view, that David Hume’s theory of Personal Identity is the best answer to the question of personal …show more content…
Who attempted to make Locke’s stance absurd in his essay titled ‘Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man’ specifically essay III, Chapter 6. Reid has several arguments against Locke, most notably against the heart of his theory, consciousness. This argument uses a child who was flogged as a boy, who would later become a decorated war veteran. The war veteran can still recall himself as a boy so by Locke’s notion he still is himself. However in the later stages of his life the war hero becomes a general. The general is no longer able to recall that he was flogged as a boy Therefore, according to Locke, the general is no longer the same person as the boy who was flogged. (Reid 5) Reid’s argument puts a very large dent into Locke’s theory. Based on Locke’s view on personal identity, how are we supposed to remain the same if there is a gap in memory? It’s one thing to not be able to recall a few years from someone’s youth, but if someone has Alzheimer’s or an issue that degrades cognitive function and causes a severe loss in memory, they are clearly the same person, however according to Locke, it is impossible for them to remain the same person due to this gap in …show more content…
In his paper “Of Personal Identity”, Hume states that personal identity is a combination of two major contributors. The first contributor to this combination is causation, which consist mostly of impressions. Impressions are in a way a snapshot of several traits of a person at a given time. (Hume 1.) For example if I am five years old and I consider hockey, oranges, and books to be amongst my favorite things in the world. This could very well be true, however this doesn’t give us a good outlet for evolving ourselves as humans, or as Hume puts it. “If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives… But there is no impression constant and invariable.” (Hume 5.) So by saying these are my favorite things, or the impression that was formed when I was five must be constant for the rest of my life in order for this theory to be true so far. However Hume states that this is not the case but that “Self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to have a reference.” (Hume 1) So my favorite things are freely able to change, however a new impression will be created. This doesn’t mean that the old impression will vanish, it is instead used as reference, ergo, humans have bundles of impressions which make everyone themselves. This notion of ideas spurning on further ideas that originates from an outside source

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