Philosophy Paper #1: Personal Identity

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Philosophy Paper #1: Personal Identity

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.
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Working in conjunction with memory is consciousness, consciousness is the definition of the self; it is the mind’s capacity to point beyond itself, differentiating between itself and an object creating awareness of “I” throughout bodily and memory changes. Consciousness is the heart of free will and intent, it is responsible for the ability of a person to choose. With that said, it is my belief that defining personal identity relies on both bodily and mental continuity.

No doubt this position leaves plenty of room for criticism, which I will attempt to address now beginning with bodily continuity. The body is in a constant state of transition, cells replacing cells by the thousands at any given time; how then can bodily continuity even be if the body is in a perpetual state of change? How could one be considered the same person if the parts are constantly being replaced? For that matter, what if a person loses a limb and receives a prosthetic, would they be the same person then?

Bodily continuity as I understand it is the organization or pattern of parts that make up the whole, not the parts themselves. The parts may replace themselves over time, but it does not disrupt continuity or identity since the purpose of the ‘new’ parts is to maintain the function of the original structure. Futurist Raymond Kurzweil further explains the replacement of body parts as it affects the identity of the
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