Personal Identity.

Essay by siksik80University, Bachelor's November 2003

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Alan Watts once said, "Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth." Personal identity defines a quality of a human being that makes him or her unique. People must have images of themselves in their own minds, while identifying others with different images. In other words, both internal (mind) and external (body) aspects need to be considered to differentiate one person from another. There are several general philosophical theories about the term personal identity, such as the body theory, soul theory, and memory theory. However, memory and one's soul often seem to be lumped together because they bear many things in common, like being intangible and taken as the internal theory of personal identity. In the following paragraphs, one will find a more detailed explanation of the memory and soul theory, and which one is the better definition of personal identity.

One theory of personal identity is known as the soul theory.

This theory says that a person has a personal identity if and only if they have a consistent same soul, which is inborn. If the soul of person A enters the body of person B, person B is no longer person B. Even though his or her outward appearance is the same, his or her behavior will not be the same. Therefore, the soul theory is a viable definition of personal identity.

The most recognized philosophical theory of personal identity has been the memory theory for a very long time. John Locke once stated: "For since consciousness always accompanies thinking and 'tis that, that makes every ne to be, where he calls self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal identity." He was referring to consciousness as a collection of memories. Everyone has different experiences and...