Philosophy Paper : Personal Identity

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When you think about yourself, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it your body, your conscious, your beliefs? Our identity is probably one of the most important aspects about ourselves. Many attributes can make up our personal identity such as style, hobbies, music taste, etc. There are two views which explain what an identity should consist of, both contradicting but appealing to the notion of personal identity.

To begin, psychological continuity, in a more technical formula, is defined by that in order for a person X to survive a particular adventure, it is necessary and sufficient that there exists, at a time after the adventure, a person Y who psychologically evolved out of X. (Korfmacher). What the definition states is that a person must have a direct psychological chain with the other, instantly becoming or conjoining into one mental state. An example to further explain this theory is the copy and paste problem. If person X’s brain was transferred to person Y’s head, then person Y would then become person X and would include person X’s beliefs, ideas, morals, thoughts, etc. A problem with this theory is that of revised psychological continuity. It entails four people be psychologically continuous, meaning person X’s brain must be split in three different parts. This could not work because for this to be an acceptable theory, person X must not exist anymore in order for person Y to exist.

The next philosophical view on personal identity is that of bodily continuity. The definition is that person X at T1 is person Y at T2, if and only if person X is the same organism as person Y. It is similar to the notion of psychological continuity, but instead of mental states and cognitive processes, it focuses on the physical state, or the body. Say someone is going through a portal and in order to successfully get to their destination they must convert to atoms and particles and such. So if this person gets through the portal and is in one piece, then it would be considered the same person right? Actually, the conversion of atoms during the transportation does not match the physical state as it primarily was, therefore contradicting bodily continuity.

Both theories contain flaws, but psychological continuity is the most agreeable one for me. If we switch bodies, just physical bodies, there is no correlation that because I traded bodies with someone it would automatically become me. I wouldn’t be able to talk, think, or process the world before my eyes if I was just a body. In that case, our mental state is the beholder of what makes us who we are. Our thoughts, beliefs, morals, styles, knowledge is all contained in one vessel. We can transfer said vessel into a robot with no determined appearance and it would become say me. It would carry everything that I consist of, it just wouldn’t look like me. It would think the way I do, talk the way I do, spew out knowledge that I have collected throughout time.

To finalize and collect thoughts, personal identity is more complex than we would like to think. There is no standardized and simple process or way we can communicate and portray this concept, which is why we use those of bodily and psychological continuity.

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Philosophy Paper : Personal Identity. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved February 29, 2024 , from

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