Why Is Personal Identity Important in Locke's View?

1607 words 7 pages
In his essay Of Identity and Diversity, Locke talks about the importance of personal identity. The title of his essay gives an idea of his view. Identity, according to Locke, is the memory and self consciousness, and diversity is the faculty to transfer memories across bodies and souls. In order to make his point more understandable, Locke defines man and person. Locke identifies a man as an animal of a certain form and a person as a thinking intelligent being. Furthermore, to Locke, a person has reasons and reflections and can consider itself as being itself in different times and places; and he/she does it with his/her consciousness (429). Basically, personal self is a particular body and personal identity is consciousness. In this …show more content…
It seems moral for a person to denounce him/herself, but is everybody willing to do that? It is a very important claim to base judgments on personal identity and personal identity on memory. The fact that Locke states that memory is the foundation of personal identity is found to be a mistake by people like Reid.
There are many weaknesses related to Locke's theory and the important ones were raised by Reid. One objection is related to the fact that Locke talks about consciousness and memory as if it was the same thing. Another objection is raised when Locke states that if a person loses his/her memory, he/she should not be responsible for his/her actions even though they are bad

actions. For example, there are good evidence that John committed war crimes, Locke says that he still should no be punished just because he does not remember. However, Reid objects to that by explaining that memory loss should not be an excuse to free people who committed important crimes like John Doe. Furthermore, Locke says that when one's consciousness is interrupted, one is not the same person (430). This does not make sense since continuity of consciousness depends on the mind, and the mind is the thinking tool of human beings (that is what makes us persons) so if the mind is the same how can the person be different? In addition, Locke does not consider many things that constitute personality

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