9 February 2019
LOCKE v HUME
John Locke claims that personal identity exists over time, that is to say that we are the same person we were five years prior and will continue to be that person in the coming future. His claim is proven, through his own justification, due to our ability to form and hold memories. David Hume holds a completely opposite view than Locke’s when it comes to the idea of a self or personal identity. He completely renounces the idea of a permanent self that exist as an identity for a person’s overall existence. These two philosophies are at odds, and obscure the idea of personal identity and whether or not it truly exists.
John Locke seeks to find an answer, or an understanding for what a person’s identity is. He puts forward the knowledge that, a living organism with its physical composure and possible consciousness will continue to be the same living being, despite any changes that it may likely incur. This likely to be accepted assertion proves that a single life is equal to that same single life, but it does not make certain the claim that personal identity exists. In an effort to find what would in fact make such a claim true, Locke discovers the idea of memory serving as proof. Thus, comes his principle that a conscious being can be certain that they are the same being because of the memories that they have from time in the past. Essentially there can and does exist a personal identity because we have the ability to recall and understand past consciousness, while still remaining within a singular consciousness. This rationale forms a strong case for the existence of self because it creates a connection of the mind through time.
There are holes within Locke’s argument, the most obvious being the prospect of memory loss. Locke’s principle would be all but negated in the event that a person loses their memory and would there by lose part of or all of their identity. Another flaw in his argument is the natural phenomena of split personalities, which would then create separate memories and personal identities...