- Early Modern: Locke on Personal Identity, Part 1
- Early Modern: Locke on Personal Identity, Part 2
- Early Modern: Locke on Personal Identity, Part 3
- Early Modern: Descartes' Cogito Argument
- Early Modern: Émilie du Châtelet, Part 1
- Early Modern: Émilie du Châtelet, Part 2
- Early Modern: Margaret Cavendish, Part 1
- Early Modern: Margaret Cavendish, Part 2
Part 3 of 3. What makes you the same person as the little kid growing up a number of years ago? Is the identity of a person tied to the persistence of a body or a soul or something else entirely? Can we even give any explanation at all of the persistence of a person? Michael Della Rocca (Yale University) explores some of the puzzles and problems of personal identity that arise from the revolutionary work of the philosopher John Locke.
Speaker: Dr. Michael Della Rocca, Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy, Yale University.
Want to join the conversation?
- A week ago I read an article that caused me to change my mind about something. The moment after I read it my beliefs changed which caused my attitudes and actions to change as well. Would Locke's account really say that I'm the same person even though I would respond differently to the same question now?(11 votes)
- I think according to Locke you are the same person because you have the memory of the past state of your mind. You have not changed. Something about you has.(17 votes)
- I am not understanding the branching problem. How can there be two memories of the the same past? Can someone give me an example of this? Also I have read that a portion of almost everyone's memory is completely false. Can anyone tell me how this would impact Locke's theories.(2 votes)
- I think the branching problem is a hypothetical one. We must first agree that two people can't be the same person. Agreed?
Now, according to the branching problem if two persons have the same memory, they are, by Locke's account, the same person.
- doesn't this mean that if someone wrote down every thought and action they did and another person memorized that would the second person be the first person? because in the video a and b do not look the same.(2 votes)
- I don't think so. They would remember reading it or remember their imagination of what was described but they would not remember it as it actually happened. We don't fear that we are going to turn into another person just because we read their autobiography. In some sense we may become a bit more like them as we absorb some of the thoughts that influenced them but I don't think it goes much further than that.(2 votes)
- Are Memory and Consciousness same?(2 votes)
- In the Brave Officer situation, maybe person C is identical to person A because he has some -- but not all -- of person A's memories. He might not remember stealing the candy, but surely he remembers something from his childhood?(2 votes)
- The transitivity problem seems even worse than set out here:
- Old Dave remembers being Young Dave so he is Young Dave.
- Young Dave does not remember being Old Dave so he is not Old Dave.
So we can't say A=B therefore B=A. So branching is not fundamental to our problem.
So rather than identity, is this about incorporation?
Old Dave incorporates Young Dave. Young Dave does not incorporate Old Dave.
A = B + what happened since B
For A later than B only.
That would seem to solve the branching problem. The two copies are both the original person but have since diverged from eachother and from that original person.
So I am not quite who I was yesterday. I am that person plus what I have done since, possibly minus what I have forgotten since.
Does that make sense or is there some great big hole in it?(1 vote)
- Does Locke define a person (as opposed to a man)? How can he simply say that the person is different but the man is the same? This would means that the person came into existence as soon as a memory was forgotten, just as would be the case for a man. So other than introducing a new concept to delay criticism, what is the definition of person that Locke uses?(1 vote)