Critical Analysis Of John Locke's Account Of Personal Identity
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In this paper, I will look at and criticize John Locke’s account of Personal Identity as well as put forward arguments of my own of what I consider to be the unreliability of that which Locke terms as consciousness in relation to and as a composition of ‘Personal Identity’. Before we can arrive at a discussion of consciousness it is essential to follow Locke’s thought process and see how he arrived at a differentiation between substance, person, self (an alternate term for person used in the latter half of the chapter) and consciousness. It is essential to realize that for Locke personal identity consists in the identity of consciousness. We know this because he says as much in the following passage: “[T]he same consciousness being preserv’d…the personal Identity is preserv’d.”( xxvii.¶13) However, I find this unhelpful for the following reasons: First, the most obvious question that arises is what is consciousness? It is unclear as to what exactly what conscious is. That being said how am I to ever know what portion of my mental activity at any given time is taken up by this “consciousness”. Second, even if I were to know what of all the many things going through my mind is consciousness and we also knew what of all the many things going on in a random persons mind in the past is his “consciousness” it would still be unclear as to what criteria must be satisfied for these two “consciousness” to be the same.
I am aim to determine what Locke actually understands to be