Socrates, Plato And René Descartes: The Origin Of Personal Identity

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The concern with identity has its roots back in the fifth century BC, when Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle discussed about the existence of a personal identity. “Who am I? What does being the person that I am, from one day to the next, necessarily consist in? Who do I want to be? What makes me similar to, or different from, another individual?” These are the questions that philosophers have tried to answer throughout history, willing to understand the origins of our existence (Korfmacher, n.d.). Socrates was the first western thinker to follow the Delphic Oracle’s command to “Know thyself”, aiming to focus the entire power of reason on the human self. In fact, he strongly believed that the self is an immortal soul that survives beyond the body’s death and exists over time (Chaffee, 2011). On the same line of thought, Plato stated that a “true self, a holistic identity”, creates our character: in other words, Identity is something that exists metaphysically and it expresses itself in a different way in each person. Whereas, Aristotle, begun to portrait the self as a set of multiple identities occurring in one individual (Gioia, 1998). Scholars and philosophers continued to study the notion of the personal identity throughout the centuries. Early modern western philosophers, including the French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, have expanded the concept of Identity to include the reasoning mind. Actually, for Descartes, the self is a
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