Personal Identity Essay can be broken down into three areas: 1. ) Body 2. ) Memoryand 3. ) Soul. In John Perry’s “A Dialogue on Personal Identity andImmortality” these composing aspects of personal identity are discussed atlength. In the reading and class discussions the body was defined clearly as apart of one’s person, even alluded to at times as a “prison” in which onecannot escape until one dies.
Memory and one’s Soul seemed to be lumpedtogether many times, understandably so, for the two bare many things in commonsuch as they are intangible, cannot be completely defined as to what eachexactly is (people remember things that did not actually happen to them, arethose still memories?; do you have one soul throughout your life?), and bothare thought to compose one’s character and beliefs. This essay will deal withthe two aspects of one’s personal identity which are the most obvious in day today life, that of the body and of soul/memory. As stated beforehand, memory and the soul bare many of the same qualities. The body and soul, however, also share this trait. Perry illustrates in hisessay that the body and soul are similar because there is a “link” between oneanother, that is they both make up a person and are responsible for thequalities associated with being an individual (height, weight, character,belief, etc. ).Order now
Perry also comes back to challenge this using the analogy of ariver. If one goes to a river, and then the next day goes back to the sameriver, the person will not say that it is a different river, although almost allof the properties of the river have changed (water molecules, pollution level,temperature, etc. ). This is the same with a person, for we say that a personat adolescence is still the same person at adulthood, even though the thepersons beliefs, knowledge, and character may have changed over the years.
Perry answers this problem by saying that we can still regard the person as thesame by the relative “similarity” of the person to how they were in the past,and that “the sameness of body is a reliable sign of sameness of all; ofsoul” . In another example, Perry differentiates between the body and the soulby saying that “personal identity” (referring to the soul/mind) cannot be basedon bodily identity, for one can judge who one is without having to make anyjudgments about the body. Perry continues to elaborate on this by saying even ifhe woke up one day and found he had a different body or form (going as far as torefer to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) he would still be the same person(possessing the same character, beliefs, memories, etc. ) Perry then identifiesthat at the heart of the soul and memory of a person’s identity is one’s memory.
This brings up the question of if there were two people with the same memories,would they not have the same personal identity? Because of the fact it isimpossible to have two people of the same identity, Perry finds that the body ismore important then previously anticipated. Overall, every aspect of one’sself (body, soul, and memory) contributes to what makes them a person with aunique identity and attributes all their own.Category: Philosophy .