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Personal Identity
Personal Identity
Description

From the Jacket

One of the most discussed of current topics in Philosophy of Mind is the problem of personal identity-the problem of what, if any thing, makes a later person the same person as an earlier person. The book is a rare attempt to analyse the problem in its various aspects and develop a theory by way of answering the questions involved. It divides itself into three parts dealings with (1) the nature and source of the problem; (2) how it has bee approached by various philosophers, traditional and contemporary; and (3) what a proper analysis of it will amount to. The theory that eventually issues out of this analysis that bodily continuity is the primary a criterion of personal identity and the claim of memory as the sole, or even primary, criterion is definitively disallowed. The ideas of disembodied existence and survival, which imply and rest upon the primacy of the memory criterion are shown to be what they are i.e. intelligible only in a secondary sense.

Of special interest to philosophers is the finding that the problem at issue is a problem of criterion and not of defining personal identity and also an interesting and original trichotomy between definition, criterion and necessary condition.

About the Author

He got his PhD from the University of Keele, England where he worked as a Commonwealth Scholar during 1974-77 and had been to the United State as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in 1989. A specialist in Philosophy and Mind and Philosophy of Values, he has authored two books, entitled personal identity and Concepts and Problems, edited five books and published a number of articles. He has been the President of the Metaphysics Section of the Indian Philosophy Congress in 1983 and also the General president of the All Orissa Philosophy Association in 1998.

Currently he is the Senior most Professor of Philosophy at Utkal University and the General Editor of Utkal Studies in philosophy series.

Preface

THE topic this book deals with is one of the most controversial of current issues in Philosophy of Mind. But though many articles and discussions have appeared in the field, very few books in this title have been written. This difficult experience during my research in England largely prompted me to put this work in print.

Among the many philosophers whose writings have influenced me and helped me to formulate the arguments of this essay are particularly Sydney Shoemaker, David Wiggins and Bernard Williams. Despite my qualified disagreements with their contentions, their original and stimulating works have supplied much of the elements of my own view on personal identity that is being presented.

One single philosopher whose writings on the topic have helped me to see the present problem in its right light is Professor RG. Swinburne. Beside this, I am also grateful to him for his constant, hardworking and helpful supervision of my research at Keele without which the present work could not have taken shape. I am, however, entirely responsible for whatever errors and inadequacies might be contained herein. I am also grateful to Dr. Brain Smart of Keele Philosophy Department through his writings and also through personal discussions with him on the topic. Dr. Smart and late Professor J.L. Mackie of Oxford deserve my special gratitude for their constructive criticisms and valuable suggestions.

I am obliged to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom for the grant that enabled me to go and work in England and also to the authorities of the Utkal University for granting me the necessary study leave.

Some of the well-wishers whose blessings and good wishes have engaged me in academic pursuits are my respected teachers Dr. G. Misra, Professor S.K. Chattopadhyay, Dr. S. Misra and Dr. G.C. Nayak. The personal encouragements of Professor Nayak and of my friends Dr. S.K. Mohanty and Dr. R.C. Pradhan have acted as catalyst in putting the book in print. The cheerful assistance and personal involvement of my friendly student Dr. S.C. Panigrahi has played a vital role in the publication of its first edition. To all of them I owe my special debt of gratitute.

My wife, Dipti, deserves my personal gratitude for being very understanding and a source of solace during my difficult days in England.

I am thankful to Shri Rajendra Agarwal of Decent Books, New Delhi for being a very willing and wonderful publisher of this edition.

I must thank the many readers who understood and appreciated the book. It is the wish and interest of some of them which led to the present edition.

Introduction

1. The Problem

PROBLEMS of Philosophy usually arise out of attempts to explain some facts of common experience. Phenomena that are otherwise taken for granted appear to be bewildering and paradoxical when a rationale for them is asked for. It appears as if we have no right to say what we do say about them. Things that so commonly pass as brute facts often become matters of interpretation, depending on how one wants to describe them. And how one wants to describe a phenomenon is quite often guided - consciously or unconsciously - by the basic philosophical assumption or assumptions of the philosopher who describes them. But a proper method of philosophising should consist in explaining phenomena without any preconceived notions whatsoever and yet in keeping the explanations as near to facts as possible. Any basic philosophical assumption, far from being wrong or incorrect, may be the right theory and may have great explanatory value; but the philosopher's task is to show that it is so, rather than assume it and explain phenomena by its means. My purpose in the present work is to pose the problem of personal identity, expose the motives of different philosophers underlying their answers to the problem and to propose what I hope to be a proper philosophical explanation of the problem in the sense just indicated. In the present part (i.e. in the first chapter) I shall confine myself mainly to the first of these tasks and defer the two others primarily to the two subsequent parts of this book.

It is a very common experience with all of us that we recognise our relatives, friends and acquaintances. We also are commonly able to say whether or not a particular person is the (earlier) person he says he is. This process of recognition or re- identification of persons involves a lapse of time during which some changes - often a great deal- might, and do, come over persons. The changes relate to the physical as well as the psychological features of persons. For example, my memory, character and personality have changed considerably: I now remember a lot more than I did at any earlier time, I have also forgotten many things which I did remember earlier; my character too has undergone some changes - my way of approach to things and people have changed, Some of these changes are quite considerable and some not; as regards my personality, I have been adding something to this, possibly, with every increase of experience and learning - in some sense, the changes in my personality have been remarkable (evident from the contrast between my rustic manners as a school boy and the somewhat refined ways of an urbanized adult). On the physical side, my body has obviously grown bigger and stronger, my complexion and appearance have changed considerably; and if the theory that in every seven-years period or so all the molecules of a human body are replaced by different ones is true, then there is not a single particle of matter now in my body which was there in (or is common to) the body with which I had touched ground or even the body which I am said to have had ten years back. These are obvious things that have happened to me and do happen to all persons. Yet we do say, and believe, that persons remain the same over periods of time. Reflecting this, a recent writer describes the problem of personal identity as the problem of trying "to justify a practice which seems at first sight to be strange, and even paradoxical. This is the practice of talking about people as single beings in spite of the fact that they are constantly changing, and over a period of time may have changed completely"! As I have said, the 'practice' referred to is very common indeed; it is not merely a 'practice of talking' but a practice that carries with it a strong conviction about the nature of persons and personal identity. The conviction is that persons are single beings and that a person continues to be the same person throughout (what we call) his life time.

We can easily see that this way of putting the problem involves two distinct issues. One concerns the nature of persons - whether persons are, as they are commonly supposed to be, single and unitary beings and if so, what is the principle of this unity. This can be called the problem of the unity of persons or, simply, the Unity question. The second issue involved here concerns the nature of the identity of persons through time - what makes (or makes us say, as I shall maintain) a later person (to be) the same person as any earlier person. This problem has been described by some as the 'Identity question? but I shall refer to this as the Re-identity question, so as to keep it distinct from another area of , identity' with which the present problem is not concerned." The existence at all of these problems is due to the fact, noted above, that all observable features which we call the features of a single person are subject to change and so one is tempted to ask, what makes (us say) these features the features of one person rather than those of many different (perhaps, succeeding) persons? Perhaps this is also backed by the argument, often adduced, that even the inner states of consciousness and experiences of a person are logically distinct and that some of them could occur to one without the others occurring at all. This has supplied the rationale to the question: what makes a set of experiences, the experiences of a particular person rather than someone else's? Because of this reason the Unity problem has often been described as the problem of co- personality of experiences." In order not to be presumptuous I prefer to call it the problem, simply, of co-personality; for the phenomenon of change and the fact of logical distinctness, as described above, can and do apply equally to the other (physical) features of persons, and to describe the problem of Unity as that of co-personality of experiences (only) would, I think, be tendentious in that it might lead us to be already working within the confines of a sort of Cartesianism.

CONTENTS
  Foreword vii
  Preface ix
 
Part One
 
1 INTRODUCTION  
  1. The Problem 3
  2. A Special Problem 28
 
Part Two
 
2 THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH  
  1. Locke and Hume: The Memory Theorists 62
  2. Butler and Reid: The Intuitionists 75
  3. Kant and Willian James 87
3 THE CONTEMPORARY APPROACH  
  1. Criterion 105
  2. Bernard Willians: Bodily Continuity 117
  3. Shoemaker and Wiggins: A Preference and a Qualification 145
  4. Dered Parfit: Memory with a Difference 175
 
Part Three
 
4 THE TWO CRITERIA  
  1. Bodily continuity Re-examined 199
  2. Memory: Not an Independent Criterion 211
  3. Disembodied Persons 227
  4. More about Disembodied persons 245
5 CONCLUDING ESTIMATE  
  1. Conflict of Criteria and the Relevance of Problem Cases 265
  2. Must there be an Answer? Importance of Personal Identity 279
  Appendix I 297
  Appendix II 300
  Index 305

 

Sample Pages





















Item Code:
IDD195
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2000
Publisher:
Decent Books
ISBN:
8186921087
Language:
English
Size:
8.8" X 5.8"
Pages:
308
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 540 gms
Price:
$37.50   Shipping Free
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From the Jacket

One of the most discussed of current topics in Philosophy of Mind is the problem of personal identity-the problem of what, if any thing, makes a later person the same person as an earlier person. The book is a rare attempt to analyse the problem in its various aspects and develop a theory by way of answering the questions involved. It divides itself into three parts dealings with (1) the nature and source of the problem; (2) how it has bee approached by various philosophers, traditional and contemporary; and (3) what a proper analysis of it will amount to. The theory that eventually issues out of this analysis that bodily continuity is the primary a criterion of personal identity and the claim of memory as the sole, or even primary, criterion is definitively disallowed. The ideas of disembodied existence and survival, which imply and rest upon the primacy of the memory criterion are shown to be what they are i.e. intelligible only in a secondary sense.

Of special interest to philosophers is the finding that the problem at issue is a problem of criterion and not of defining personal identity and also an interesting and original trichotomy between definition, criterion and necessary condition.

About the Author

He got his PhD from the University of Keele, England where he worked as a Commonwealth Scholar during 1974-77 and had been to the United State as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in 1989. A specialist in Philosophy and Mind and Philosophy of Values, he has authored two books, entitled personal identity and Concepts and Problems, edited five books and published a number of articles. He has been the President of the Metaphysics Section of the Indian Philosophy Congress in 1983 and also the General president of the All Orissa Philosophy Association in 1998.

Currently he is the Senior most Professor of Philosophy at Utkal University and the General Editor of Utkal Studies in philosophy series.

Preface

THE topic this book deals with is one of the most controversial of current issues in Philosophy of Mind. But though many articles and discussions have appeared in the field, very few books in this title have been written. This difficult experience during my research in England largely prompted me to put this work in print.

Among the many philosophers whose writings have influenced me and helped me to formulate the arguments of this essay are particularly Sydney Shoemaker, David Wiggins and Bernard Williams. Despite my qualified disagreements with their contentions, their original and stimulating works have supplied much of the elements of my own view on personal identity that is being presented.

One single philosopher whose writings on the topic have helped me to see the present problem in its right light is Professor RG. Swinburne. Beside this, I am also grateful to him for his constant, hardworking and helpful supervision of my research at Keele without which the present work could not have taken shape. I am, however, entirely responsible for whatever errors and inadequacies might be contained herein. I am also grateful to Dr. Brain Smart of Keele Philosophy Department through his writings and also through personal discussions with him on the topic. Dr. Smart and late Professor J.L. Mackie of Oxford deserve my special gratitude for their constructive criticisms and valuable suggestions.

I am obliged to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom for the grant that enabled me to go and work in England and also to the authorities of the Utkal University for granting me the necessary study leave.

Some of the well-wishers whose blessings and good wishes have engaged me in academic pursuits are my respected teachers Dr. G. Misra, Professor S.K. Chattopadhyay, Dr. S. Misra and Dr. G.C. Nayak. The personal encouragements of Professor Nayak and of my friends Dr. S.K. Mohanty and Dr. R.C. Pradhan have acted as catalyst in putting the book in print. The cheerful assistance and personal involvement of my friendly student Dr. S.C. Panigrahi has played a vital role in the publication of its first edition. To all of them I owe my special debt of gratitute.

My wife, Dipti, deserves my personal gratitude for being very understanding and a source of solace during my difficult days in England.

I am thankful to Shri Rajendra Agarwal of Decent Books, New Delhi for being a very willing and wonderful publisher of this edition.

I must thank the many readers who understood and appreciated the book. It is the wish and interest of some of them which led to the present edition.

Introduction

1. The Problem

PROBLEMS of Philosophy usually arise out of attempts to explain some facts of common experience. Phenomena that are otherwise taken for granted appear to be bewildering and paradoxical when a rationale for them is asked for. It appears as if we have no right to say what we do say about them. Things that so commonly pass as brute facts often become matters of interpretation, depending on how one wants to describe them. And how one wants to describe a phenomenon is quite often guided - consciously or unconsciously - by the basic philosophical assumption or assumptions of the philosopher who describes them. But a proper method of philosophising should consist in explaining phenomena without any preconceived notions whatsoever and yet in keeping the explanations as near to facts as possible. Any basic philosophical assumption, far from being wrong or incorrect, may be the right theory and may have great explanatory value; but the philosopher's task is to show that it is so, rather than assume it and explain phenomena by its means. My purpose in the present work is to pose the problem of personal identity, expose the motives of different philosophers underlying their answers to the problem and to propose what I hope to be a proper philosophical explanation of the problem in the sense just indicated. In the present part (i.e. in the first chapter) I shall confine myself mainly to the first of these tasks and defer the two others primarily to the two subsequent parts of this book.

It is a very common experience with all of us that we recognise our relatives, friends and acquaintances. We also are commonly able to say whether or not a particular person is the (earlier) person he says he is. This process of recognition or re- identification of persons involves a lapse of time during which some changes - often a great deal- might, and do, come over persons. The changes relate to the physical as well as the psychological features of persons. For example, my memory, character and personality have changed considerably: I now remember a lot more than I did at any earlier time, I have also forgotten many things which I did remember earlier; my character too has undergone some changes - my way of approach to things and people have changed, Some of these changes are quite considerable and some not; as regards my personality, I have been adding something to this, possibly, with every increase of experience and learning - in some sense, the changes in my personality have been remarkable (evident from the contrast between my rustic manners as a school boy and the somewhat refined ways of an urbanized adult). On the physical side, my body has obviously grown bigger and stronger, my complexion and appearance have changed considerably; and if the theory that in every seven-years period or so all the molecules of a human body are replaced by different ones is true, then there is not a single particle of matter now in my body which was there in (or is common to) the body with which I had touched ground or even the body which I am said to have had ten years back. These are obvious things that have happened to me and do happen to all persons. Yet we do say, and believe, that persons remain the same over periods of time. Reflecting this, a recent writer describes the problem of personal identity as the problem of trying "to justify a practice which seems at first sight to be strange, and even paradoxical. This is the practice of talking about people as single beings in spite of the fact that they are constantly changing, and over a period of time may have changed completely"! As I have said, the 'practice' referred to is very common indeed; it is not merely a 'practice of talking' but a practice that carries with it a strong conviction about the nature of persons and personal identity. The conviction is that persons are single beings and that a person continues to be the same person throughout (what we call) his life time.

We can easily see that this way of putting the problem involves two distinct issues. One concerns the nature of persons - whether persons are, as they are commonly supposed to be, single and unitary beings and if so, what is the principle of this unity. This can be called the problem of the unity of persons or, simply, the Unity question. The second issue involved here concerns the nature of the identity of persons through time - what makes (or makes us say, as I shall maintain) a later person (to be) the same person as any earlier person. This problem has been described by some as the 'Identity question? but I shall refer to this as the Re-identity question, so as to keep it distinct from another area of , identity' with which the present problem is not concerned." The existence at all of these problems is due to the fact, noted above, that all observable features which we call the features of a single person are subject to change and so one is tempted to ask, what makes (us say) these features the features of one person rather than those of many different (perhaps, succeeding) persons? Perhaps this is also backed by the argument, often adduced, that even the inner states of consciousness and experiences of a person are logically distinct and that some of them could occur to one without the others occurring at all. This has supplied the rationale to the question: what makes a set of experiences, the experiences of a particular person rather than someone else's? Because of this reason the Unity problem has often been described as the problem of co- personality of experiences." In order not to be presumptuous I prefer to call it the problem, simply, of co-personality; for the phenomenon of change and the fact of logical distinctness, as described above, can and do apply equally to the other (physical) features of persons, and to describe the problem of Unity as that of co-personality of experiences (only) would, I think, be tendentious in that it might lead us to be already working within the confines of a sort of Cartesianism.

CONTENTS
  Foreword vii
  Preface ix
 
Part One
 
1 INTRODUCTION  
  1. The Problem 3
  2. A Special Problem 28
 
Part Two
 
2 THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH  
  1. Locke and Hume: The Memory Theorists 62
  2. Butler and Reid: The Intuitionists 75
  3. Kant and Willian James 87
3 THE CONTEMPORARY APPROACH  
  1. Criterion 105
  2. Bernard Willians: Bodily Continuity 117
  3. Shoemaker and Wiggins: A Preference and a Qualification 145
  4. Dered Parfit: Memory with a Difference 175
 
Part Three
 
4 THE TWO CRITERIA  
  1. Bodily continuity Re-examined 199
  2. Memory: Not an Independent Criterion 211
  3. Disembodied Persons 227
  4. More about Disembodied persons 245
5 CONCLUDING ESTIMATE  
  1. Conflict of Criteria and the Relevance of Problem Cases 265
  2. Must there be an Answer? Importance of Personal Identity 279
  Appendix I 297
  Appendix II 300
  Index 305

 

Sample Pages





















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