Topic 2: Personal Identity In this essay I intend on giving an account of why Locke believes we must understand personal identity as a 'unity of consciousness' via an explanation and evaluation of his reasoning and make a comparison with David Hume's 'bundle theory'. Moreover I will outline why I believe Hume account to be more the more plausible, and yet doesn't quite go far enough in giving us a complete understanding of personal identity. John Locke was concerned with providing a theory of personal identity, or 'self', in order to gauge how moral responsibility could be accredited to a person and thus a justification of guilt found. To him, the self wasn't a substance of the body, or the soul, but rather was to be based in a human's consciousness. To the extent that a person is conscious of past and future thoughts and actions, in the same manner as they are present thought and actions, then according to Locke they can be said to be the same person. Thus the self could be identified to be that which has repeated acts of consciousness or thoughts and that can also identify and reach into the past through memory of previous thought and actions.
In this selection from Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, we are presented with his criterion persons and identity. Do we have a reason to believe that Locke’s criteria for personal identity still apply if we downloaded into a computer? Are you still yourself if you exist only within the confines of a computer program? On the part of Locke, this is an attempt to answer the question of whether there is such a thing as the immortal and immaterial soul. ‘Soul’ should be understood in the same sense here as it is discussed throughout Christianity. What is entailed by this theory is an explanation for memory, and consequentially, consciousness. Such a theory allows for us to account for why each of us can exist from moment to moment and still be identified as ourselves
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Both of these accounts of personal identity—the bodily theory and the immaterial-substance theory—were rejected by the 17th-century English philosopher in his (1689), which contained the first extended treatment of the topic in . Book II, chapter 27, of the Essay, “” introduces a famous example in which the soul of a prince, carrying with it of the prince’s past life, is transferred to the body of a cobbler. Locke argued that the post-transfer cobbler-body person would be the same person as the prince, despite not having the prince’s former body. (Updated versions of this example involve transplants rather than soul transfers.) He also held that can be transferred from one immaterial substance to another, so that the immaterial substance that was initially the of one person might become the mind of a different person.