Personal Identity





Personal Identity


The issues governed by the debate on personal identity concern issues in particular like persistence, sameness, change and the time factor. The distinct personality of an individual is the direct reflection of their identity in persistence to the entities that govern their existence. Structures within a personal identity appear to be preserved from previous versions over time as well as influencing the characteristics that the individual is known. Contemporary conceptions have been used in trying to decipher the actual representation of personal identity especially with the maintained characteristics. Different propositions, presuppositions, and derived postulates use prior mechanisms to achieve the distinction of the world. The variations made by the individual in his or her life also facilitate the persistence in determining the identity especially when it concerns the mental development and bodily changes over the course of time. The two notable philosophers who are renowned in deciphering of the philosophical explanation towards personal identity are Thomas Reid and John Locke. John Locke’s analysis of personal identity through memory as the constitutive embodiment, is enhanced and objective as compared to Thomas Reid.


The very being of things can be a sound start on the analysis of personal identity through the recognition by the mind. Locke points that when the mind is able to visualize and see any object or thing to be in place, the individual becomes sure despite its existence n another area even though it is distinguishable. The identity is then confirmed to recognition from the prior sense, into the present as the mind checks on the existence. Accordingly, this can be distinguished in two ways depending on the intuition and understanding of the person’s mentality. In retrospect, the identity of substance does not contain the full embodiment of creating recognition. In the latter, Reid affirms to the depth at memory in order to determine the identity since it can be weakened from time to time. It is contrary as the mind is not static.

Principal individualization offers unique identity since it determines the time and place an individual remembers of existence and determination of for example, two things being the same. The mind is in communication with conceivable substances as well as the disposition of matter. Locke is adamant that distinction has to be made with the foresight of parts to a certain end that the mind is aware. Reid seems o agree on the existence of prior recognition as means of the mind enabling understanding of experiences. The analysis points out that there has to be a relationship between existence of a substance or thing in order for the mind to have distinct recollection on the individual’s change over time and its effect on the person. There needs to be clear verification on changes of for example, common sense, and distinction of previous occurrences on the things and their existence.

Continuous existence as identified by Thomas Reid stated that it had to be indivisible in order for the individual to be determined according to identity. He enlists that the individual had to be able to feel, have thoughts, acts and suffers over a given time in order to state their change in individual traits. Critically, the extension over time cannot meet the same threshold. The individual is bound to change according to circumstance. It had to be uninterrupted and in a continuous manner since the identity of man have to be organized in matter as he live over the same time. Without the nature of the matter as supported by Locke, then the same individual cannot be distinguished from previous existence, as the growth is not experienced. Further, it has to be established on the role surrounding, external people and environment have on the same identity.

In order for an identity to be distinguishable and valid, the idea behind it has to be analyzed. Ingenious observation on the similar thought, realization, and practicability of the expressed idea can then be attributed to the individual for easier distinction on characteristics and attributes. A sharp contrast is depicted by Reid on the use of idea to pan the differential essence of identity. On the latter’s argument, successive similarities of the forms in nature can be contained from one individual to another, thereby having disrepute on the said individual’s identity. It is worth to exercise the degree of expression, to a similar degree on the differential distinction, especially to the ideas behind experiences and enabled forms of any individual. They facilitate the easier understanding of their characteristics as well as enabled forms of the manner they express them.

Memory remembrance does not offer sufficient reasoning in determining the personal identity of a person. There is no permanent distribution of enabled existence, which can warrant a person’s memory being static over the period. For example, Reid argues on the issue that a person might remember details of past occurrences as means of determining the continuous evolvement of their characteristics and enabled mechanisms. It is not valid since, the experience channeled through from the past have a bearing in the shaping and molding of an individual’s identity no matter the differential basis. Locke on the other hand is critical towards the approach by supporting the values and attributes the individual stands for as supported through the past. Despite the continuous changes, they still offer enabled essence in determining the personal identity.

Consciousness is important in making the personal identity. The only difference to the attributed understanding is through analysis of the substance in question. An individual would in most circumstances doubt their identity if perceptions on consciousness would be based on the present alone without knowing its substance. The distinguishable aspect of this analysis is contained in interruptions, which make it easy for the individual to forget. Once the doubts are placed in mind especially with important basis on a personal evaluation, it becomes difficult to express the identity fully. Questions have to be asked on the substance making the said individual as opposed to acquired or made. Same consciousness is the very element that makes the same individual, thereby expressing t6heir identity, as they do not exist out of it. They embody the individual.

Remembrances of experiences contribute to definition of personal identity, albeit to a smaller extent as compared to consciousness of them. Reid counters this statement by stating that remembrance does not give any meaning to the consciousness of belief. For example, he questions the validity of expressing a belief on creation that it actually occurred. Through belief of a particular substance or experience, the identity of the individual is identified. For example, on the issue of creation, by stating towards the affirmative, the religious aspect of the individual are expressed and hence, one can know the identity. The remembrance can represent change of substance according to identity and manipulated thoughts. The person does not change in terms of composition, only the identity towards certain aspects or beliefs thereby causing the uniqueness within the individual.

When change of substance occurs, the identity is still the same. Substance in this case refers to the body and its forms from time to time. The unity between the consciousness of the body and mind facilitate the characteristics maintained over time of the individual. Reid’s reasoning seems to offer the negative approach on the same. He offers the conflicting sense in determining identity through change of substance. He states that it is like a matter of convenience since the change facilitates a new formation between the two. He states that the change is enabled through the forms able to destroy it. It does not conform to a standard like the belief in afterlife. The latter’s position is divergent since, similarities contained in the substance like belief are meant to strengthen the resolve of identity as opposed to the opposite.

Identity is preserved and protected through life. Despite the changes in immaterial substance, as to the remaining form within the individual, the identity cannot be lost or stripped from the individual. The consciousness retained in past existence cannot be eroded while having a new account of the present circumstances. The consciousness of the present as per Locke does not have the capacity to reach beyond the previous one owing to the experiences of the individual. Thus, the identity is determined through the enabled forms from the past into the present. Te individual should therefore not look into the immaterial spirit in prior existence as reason for identity. It is the wholesome analysis through enabled attributes and conceived consciousness. In addition, recognition should be enabled through the body as it is distinct from the mind and is kept the same all through.

Self is responsible for making the person owing to consciousness. Separation has to be made on the role consciousness develops in the identity of an individual. Either material or spiritual basis on the matter affects the consciousness as it compounds the body and mind as one but of distinct entities. Consciousness as supported by Locke goes along with substance thereby deriving the personal identity of the person. For example, if the small finger was overwhelmingly separated from the rest of the body, and consciousness departs with it, then the substance is with the finger. The rest of the body does not form part of it in the new state. Therefore, the identity of the person is contained in the realization of consciousness with the substance and its acquisition. It follows the individual and changes the characteristics with it.

Individuation of a personal identity is underestimated. Psychological criteria contained in the distinction between the substance and memory regarding the consciousness of the individual is responsible. Individuation has to take account of the non-duplication of properties from one person to another. Incorporation of the properties and instantiations has to be distinguished since they refer to objects and matter without considerations on the consciousness. Reid states that faculties of testimony through consciousness against that of memory do not separate the person’s identity against time. Depiction of similitude alone does not offer compounding evidence on the identity of personal status as compared to the analysis of the two variables. Locke on the other hand strengthens the argument since differential basis between man and person is not of the same category. The same individual has to take the distinction of two characteristics within themselves in immaterial substance.

The need for continued existence is an indicator of making identity. It is borrowed from the experiences passed through or attained throughout the process. Substance is developed over time and the rational spirit of the individual is in constant evolvement. The separation between body and mind plays the crucial role of enabling alternation of the two aspects. The support of the body towards the unified and conformed memory through experience enables the derivative of the identity at its optimum. The succession of piecing together the fleeting particles of the same person in a continuous manner achieves the individual’s identity in a systematic manner as it preserves the denomination of the subject as explained by Locke in his argument.


John Locke’s analysis of personal identity through memory as the constitutive embodiment, is enhanced and objective as compared to Thomas Reid. Locke’s basing on analysis through inanimate, persons and living thing differentiates the circumstances that are responsible in achieving the identity of the person. On the other hand, Thomas Reid maintains that an uninterrupted existence and involvement of univocal permanence on the body and mind is the only identity attributed to a person. Further debate on the use of belief should be enabled in order to ascertain the effect towards the memory and reflective experiences as a need for identity.



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