Personal Identity, By John Locke, Derek Parfit And Bernard Williams

1500 Words Nov 19th, 2014 6 Pages
People have always been interested in the idea of finding out about personal identity, what makes you the same person as you were when you were five and what will make you the same person when you are eighty. Derek Parfit summed up this idea by saying “Whatever happens between now and any future time, either I shall still exist, or I shall not. Any future experience will either be my experience, or it will not.” (Parfit- 186), which is what personal identity looks into. This essay will discuss whether personal identity is a matter of physical or psychological continuity, taking into account the famous ideas of philosophers such as John Locke, Derek Parfit and Bernard Williams.
John Locke (1632-1704) argued for the side of psychological continuity determining personal identity. To Locke, a person could be recognised and classified as the same person throughout their whole life due to the fact that their personality, memories and characteristics remained the same with no break in consciousness. The physical body was not the defining factor. Locke’s example of “The Prince and the Cobbler” explains his believe in the significance of psychological continuity. A Prince and a Cobbler, wake up one morning realising that they are not in their own beds, but in the beds of the opposite person; they seem to have switched bodied. The body of the Prince has the same characteristics and memories of the Cobbler and the body of the Cobbler has the same characteristics and memories of the…

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