Locke And John Locke's Theory On Personal Identity

Decent Essays

Personal Identity or ‘Self’ has been a very important topic for philosophers for many years. Personal identity is how you describe or think of being which is derived from memories that have taken place over the years. John Locke was a philosopher who believed that your ‘Self’ or personal identity come from memory which is also referred to as consciousness in Locke’s writings. Locke believed that you are who you are, because your thoughts are yours alone no matter the vessel. However, in this paper we will go over a few instances where Locke’s theory on Personal Identity poses a few concerns and why those concerns prove his theory to be invalid. Personal Identity is defined in the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary as “The persistent and …show more content…

We are not who we were X years ago. Locke explains change of identity through an example of an oak tree, he says ‘…an oak growing from a plant to a great tree, and then lopped, is still the same oak”. (Locke, John) but is it the same oak? Sure, the physical changes took place, but is this the only change that the oak went through? As mentioned above regarding change, we are constantly evolving and changing who we are on a daily basis despite what our memories hold. Locke’s theory suggests that even if we cannot remember one thing, but can remember another, then the forgotten memory no longer matter because we were able to remember the most recent memory which proves our ‘self’. This theory simply cannot work due to several instances that deal with your memory alone. Your memory is made up of various occasions that have taken place in your life. If you remember walking for the first time as a baby, and what took place the night of your twenty-first birthday, you wouldn’t necessarily connect those two memories together, those very different memories do not stand alone as to what shaped you as the person you are today despite your consciousness. Locke’s theory being based around consciousness poses a few more issues to take into consideration when deciding on the validity of this theory. A common story that is linked to Locke’s theory goes

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