Personal Identity

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA ・1 Sources

The metaphysical questions that arise as a result of the natural existence of being human are referred to as personal identity. People are often confronted with the most fundamental questions regarding their own life. It's normal to think about who we really are and what will happen to us after we pass away. People go through changes as they grow up, and these changes are the foundation for people's motivation to live, as well as the changes that make up death. The aim of this paper is to gain an understanding of the definition of personal identity, the problem with personal identity, and the impact of numerical identity on personal identity. It also seeks insight on some of the theories on personal identity.
There are a number of problems that arise when it comes to personal identity. First of all, people often wonder how they can die here on earth and still be alive somewhere else. Even Miller is greatly convinced that God who is just and merciful will not allow for life to end here on earth. He also talks of the great conceptions of immortality and how sensible it sounds to talk of life after the grave (Perry 1). From the conversation, it is evident that Weirob is worried of what he will become after death and he even talks of how his decaying body will be merged with the plants and plays a role in helping them to flourish. However, he still hopes that sometime in the future after he is gone, someone else who identifies with him completely will be born (Perry 2).
The numerical (quantitative) identity refers to a different perception of identity that can be evaluated in terms of qualities like honesty, humor, patience, or even kindness. It could also be evaluated from a numerical perspective through things like the date of birth, parents and the like. This is important for personal identity since it helps us to distinguish the people we knew in the past based on facts about them that will always be the same such as their birth year or the school they attended. Even when their qualities change, their unique identifiers remain the same. Thus, when people encounter each other after a number of years, the most obvious things that they will notice about them is the extent to which their qualities have changed. However, the fact remains that this person is still the same person you used to know who was born to the specific parents in a certain year.
The two theories of personal identity as discussed in the dialogue on personal identity and immortality are body theory and the memory theory. The memory theory is one of the strongest characteristic that helps in shaping the identity of any individual. The memories are not just made of a series of events of the things that people see and experience. Rather, they are the main basis through which an individual’s attitude, feeling, and mannerism can be judged. Additionally, it also shapes their psychological behaviour. Weirob could remember his encounters with Cohen because he did not suffer brain damage from the accident and so his memory was still intact (Perry 1). When people die, the memory of them does not die with them (Perry 14). It lives on in the minds of those who interacted with them. Miller convinces Weirob of the possibility of people remembering the conversation they are having at the moment. That means that he will still live through the memories. Even though the memory is an important aspect of a person’s identity, it does not entirely determine the attributes and the characters that the individual may exhibit. This is seen in the case of people who suffer from amnesia at some point in their lives. Even when they do not recover, they still manage to build unique characters that people can still use to distinguish them from others. They manage to do this even when they do not have a single account of the kind of person that they were before. A new being comes to be after the experience.
On the other hand, the body theory is of the view that a person’s unique identity can be characterized based on their physical body. Weirob is sure that when he dies he will cease to exist because his body will be no more (Perry, 4). This means that, his body is what totally identifies him and without it he will be no more. This could be true to some extent since if he dies, the body will rot and in the end there will be nothing left of him. Only his memories will prevail. However, a person’s character and personality cannot be judged entirely by looking at their body. Even the blind people have their own opinion of other people’s character based on how they talk and the emotions that they send across in their speech. They can sense a worry freak, a liar and many other personalities.
The body theory provides a better explanation of what it is to be a person existing and persisting through time. When a person dies, they cease to exist. They are buried or cremated and rot way. They cannot walk from their graves and start a life again. Their whole system shuts that very moment they die. Thus, the body is the shell on which the mind, soul, and memory thrives. When people die, their mind, soul and memory ceases to function and they cease to exist.

Works Cited

Perry, John. A dialogue on personal identity and immortality. Hackett Publishing, 1978.

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