Mackenzie and Schechtman on Personal Identity
The concept of personal identity or personhood is a very complex area of philosophy that challenges our most basic understandings of mind and matter. Philosophers have generally settled into either the school of mind, or consciousness, and the school of body. As our ability to study the mind grows, through developments in psychology and neurology, consciousness-based theories have come to dominate the discussion of personal identity and body-based theories appear simplistic and even primitive. Thesis: Catriona Mackenzie, however, compels the field to make a renewed examination of the body by pointing out that the body is the very apparatus by which the self interacts with world, thereby shaping all of the experiences which constitute memory and consciousness.
Schectman's highly influential theory of narrative self-construction represents the best of the consciousness-based theories on personal identity. Schechtman's theory is ground in the ideas of John Locke, who theorized that the self was not the continuation of an immaterial soul or a material body, but rather the continuation of consciousness. Locke defined a person as "...a thinking, intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider it self as it self, the same thinking thing in different times and places." (Schechtman, 1994, 5.4). In other words, Locke believes that the subject must have the ability to be self-conscious in order to be a
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John Locke states that personal identity is a matter of physiological continuity that is based on the consciousness of a person rather than the individual’s body. Personal identity is constituted by memory connections; specifically the depiction of autobiographical memory connections that result in constituting personal identity. John Locke states that a person’s personality and psychology can be transferred to another body and that individual can still stay the same person because the consciousness of the person did not change. This idea is known as transplant intuition. This intuition is the basis of the account of personal identity. If a cerebrum was removed from one body and transplanted into a different body, the transplant intuition
In a series of relatively simple though complexly-worded (out of necessity) thought experiments regarding body-swapping and changes to memory and the mind, Bernard Williams attempts to demonstrate that identity should be identified with the body rather than with the mind when identity is extended into the future (and by extension during the present). That is, though it is typical for identity to be associated with the mind at any given moment, Williams argues that the logic that supports this intuitive association does not hold up over longer periods of time, and that anticipation of the future leads to an association of identity with the body rather than with the mind. Whether or not Williams is successful in this attempt is a matter of much debate, with this author finding some fundamental flaws in the very premise of the comparisons and thus the conclusions, however the argument is fairly elegant and persuasive and certainly worth of closer inspection. A careful reading of the argument might lead one to a conclusion opposite to that which was intended, but is no less rewarding for this unusual quirk.
What is personal identity? This question has been asked and debated by philosophers for centuries. The problem of personal identity is determining what conditions and qualities are necessary and sufficient for a person to exist as the same being at one time as another. Some think personal identity is physical, taking a materialistic perspective believing that bodily continuity or physicality is what makes a person a person with the view that even mental things are caused by some kind of physical occurrence. Others take a more idealist approach with the belief that mental continuity is the sole factor in establishing personal identity holding that physical things are just reflections of the mind.
In this paper, I will argue that the Memory Theory of Personal Identity is the closest to the truth. I will do so by showing that the opposing theories – Body and Soul Theories – have evident flaws and that the
For centuries philosophers have engaged themselves into conversations and arguments trying to figure out the nature of a human person; this has lead to various theories and speculation about the nature of the human mind and body. The question they are tying to answer is whether a human being is made of only the physical, body and brain, or both the physical or the mental, mind. In this paper I will focus on the mind-body Identity Theory to illustrate that it provides a suitable explanation for the mind and body interaction.
No matter how much a person desires to live according to their personal autonomy, he or she will never escape the influence of societal forces. Explicitly or subtlety, these forces shape our individuality. One intriguing manner that these societal forces manifests itself in is our name. As Ruth Graham writes, “It’s becoming increasingly clear today that names carry a wealth of information about the world around us, the family we arrived in, the moment we were born—and that they mark us as part of cultural currents bigger than we realize.” Names alone provide evidence that individuals are made by interactions with social institutions and groups. Ultimately, the inescapable nature of society’s influence demands individuals to ponder how much personal autonomy is actually autonomous and to what extent does the pursuit of personal autonomy lead to a life of emptiness and vanity.
In John Locke’s argument for personal identity, he believes that we are not substances or mere souls. In his argument, Locke stresses to convey that there is a crucial difference between distinguishing a “man” and a “person” (Locke 221). According to Locke’s definition, a man is a living body which is homogenous to an animal’s body. Therefore, any living body of a particular shapes refers to a “man.” Locke emphasizes that a “person” is a sensible being that is aware of its own
In philosophy, the issue of personal identity concerns the conditions under which a person at one time is the same person at another time. An analysis of personal identity
Personal identity is essential in the human experience. Identity is complex and can be broken down into two main groups: introspective identity, and bodily identity. Introspective identity is based off of the groups, mentalities, or beliefs that you align yourself with, and bodily identity is based off of the physical side of yourself. Whether physical or introspective, your identity impacts every action you take. Whether choices ranging from what colors you prefer to which college you want to attend are primarily based off of your introspective identity, which is a combination of both memory and consciousness, physical identity impacts how others perceive you. Consciousness is mainly the awareness of bodily identity as well as continuous introspective identify, while memory is awareness of introspective identity. These two different facets of identity are imperative in the distinction between bodily identity and introspective identity. In means of personal identity introspective identity (which is evident in memory), is essential, while bodily identity (based partially in consciousness) has less credit.
Personal identity, in a philosophical point of view, is the problem of explaining what makes a person numerically the same over a period of time, despite the change in qualities. The major questions answered by Locke were questions concerning the nature of identity, persons, and immorality (Jacobsen, 2016). This essay will discuss the three themes John Locke presents in his argument regarding personal identity, which are, the concept of categories, substance vs. man vs. person, and the continuity of consciousness.
If on Tuesday, I suffer an accident and lose all of my memory, it is probable that my family and friends will still love and care for me, creating an impression that I am indeed the same person I once was. These conditions imply the theses of animalism and bodily continuity when it comes to personal identity. However, is this human habit enough to discard the idea that it is psychological continuity that sustains identity? Whilst many may argue that it would be against our intuition to say that I am no longer the same person, I do not believe that this is caused by our intuition, but instead a societal construct that’s sole purpose is to make the trauma of the accident and loss easier to deal with. By using this premise and upholding the psychological
The question on personal identity has been a philosophical debate for a long time. Philosophers over time have tried to argue what being a person that one is, from one day to the necessarily contains. In their endless search for philosophical bases on the same, multiple questions on the issues of life and death arise such that the correct answers to personal identity determine the changes that one person undergoes, or may undergo without being extinct but rather continuing to exist. Personal identity philosophical theory confronts the most ultimate questions on our existence as well as who we are and if by any chance there is a possibility of life after death. In attempts to distinguish change in a person in survival and after death, a criterion of personal identity over time is given. Such criterion specifies all the necessary and sufficient conditions that must prevail for a person to continue to exist (Perry et al,103)
According to Harry G. Frankfurt’s writings, personhood is bound by one’s wills and desires, and the various ways these influence our actions. His philosophy focuses primarily on the mind and how it guides out wills. Frankfurt, for example, does not allow for any external influences on personal identity, nor does he allow the mind’s interpretation of the body, resulting in a narrow view on one’s personhood. Susan J. Brison offers an alternative. Her piece, “Outliving Oneself: Trauma, Memory, and Personal Identity,” describes the ways our relationships with both our body and society influence our personhood. Along with Brison, ethicist J. S. Swindell’s piece, “Facial Allograft Transplantation, Personal Identity, and Subjectivity,” describes the effect facial allograft surgeries have on the recipients. In this paper, I will examine the relationship between society and one’s own personhood, and argue that it is important to realize how both society and the mind’s relationship with the body influences one’s self-perceptions and personhood.
Many people question themselves, what is it exactly that makes them unique? What is it that defines them as a unique person that no one in the world possesses? In philosophy, these questions do not have just one answer, and all answers are correct depending on which theory appeals most and makes sense to you. In general, there are two ways people approach this question, some say that a person’s identity is the “self” that carries all of their experiences, thoughts, memories, and consciousness (ego theorists), and some say that a person’s identity is just a bundle of experiences and events that a person has been through in their life, these people deny that the “self” exists (bundle theorists). In this paper, I will be arguing that a person’s identity is just a bundle of experiences, denying the self and the memory criterion.
Turning to more theoretical work, one finds the same movement of ideas. Reflections on personal identity -- and hence the renewed interest in the category of person -- constitute one of the rare points of