John Locke 's Theory Of Self And Personal Identity Essay

1449 WordsOct 27, 20166 Pages
John Locke a seventeenth century Philosopher uses a number of thought experiments in his 1690 account, ’An Essay concerning Human Understanding’. He uses these thought experiments to help explain his definition of the self and personal identity. The thought experiments that are used, go some way in explaining his opinions and in clarifying the role that memory plays in defining the term. Although defining personal identity was and still is a complex subject and not all philosophers share the same views. The term ’personal identity’ is described in the text book ’as what, if anything makes a person the same person despite changes over time’ (Warburton, N,2011, p.18). Locke’s thought experiments are essential instruments in explaining that when a man or woman has no memory or consciousness of events that have occurred, their personal identity is altered quite significantly. Locke aims to show that a person’s consciousness is what makes them, them. And that the biological body that their consciousness inhabits is not always connected. These opinions are talked about throughout his account and it is clear that John Locke feels that memory is imperative to personal identity. In John Locke’s description of the thought experiment the little finger; he discusses the differences that can occur when a part of a human is removed and becomes its own individual body. Locke states that ’If the consciousness went along with the finger when it was cut off’ that the finger could not deny
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