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John Locke on Personal Identity

“According to John Loke, the self is identified as a thinking, intelligent being that has the abilities to reason and to reflect”. (Chaffee, 2016). Self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. Self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. In chapter 3 of the text, the author talks about “self” and the many different perceptions of it. I chose “The Self Is Consciousness and We Construct the Self. Locke believes that “self” is the essence of the self is its conscious awareness of itself as a thinking, reasoning, reflecting identity.

” (Chaffee, 2016). There is also another philosopher in chapter 3 Immanuel Kant who believed that self has an inner and outer self that forms our consciousness. He believes that “self” is one’s consciousness and is how one processes things they experience. While both Locke and Kant make some good points as it pertains to self, I believe that Locke’s perspectives were more plausible to me and I could relate more to his perspectives.

I believe this to be more reasonable because, he starts off by trying to first find out what self-entails, how the self is defined, and that self is the same in different places and times. I will go deeper into the philosophy of self later into my essay.

John Locke held that the mind or soul was a tabula rasa which means blank slate. Locke believed that knowledge commenced from our sense experience, which is the last step in evaluating the preciseness of ideas.

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He was an advocate of the empiricist. The empiricist is the epistemological view that sense experience is the primary source of all knowledge and careful attention to sense experience enables us to understand the world and reach cogent conclusions. Locke stated, “all knowledge originates in our direct sense experience.

In his essay from “On Personal Identity”, Locke talked about self as a thinking intelligent being, that has a reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places.” (Chaffee, 2016). He believes self cannot exist without consciousness. Consciousness is being aware that we are thinking, always accompanies thinking, and is an essential part of the thinking process. When we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, or meditate we are aware of what is going on around us. For our perceptual systems, and our cognitive system, are designed to work together to enable us to direct our attentional and our perceptual resources to where they are needed. (Noe, 2002). Consciousness is what makes it possible for us to understand that we are the same in different times and places. John Locke argues that the soul is not tied to a single soul but to a consciousness that passes from person to person. (Chaffee, 2016)

Immanuel Kant is a philosopher who attempted to integrate empiricism and rationalism. He proposed a second self, the empirical self or ego, which consists of those traits that make us each a unique personality. Rationalism is the theory that reason, rather than experience, is the foundation of all knowledge. According to Kant, “it’s our self that makes experiencing an intelligible world possible because it’s self that is responsible for synthesizing the discreet data of sense experience into a meaningful whole,” (Chaffee, 2016). Kant invented unity of consciousness which, is described as the fact that the thoughts and perceptions of any given mind are bound together in unity by being all contained in one consciousness. (Chaffee, 2016). Kant believes that there is an inner and outer self that works together to create our consciousness. The inner self is comprised of our psychological state and our rational intellect and the outer includes our sense and the physical world. When view things around you, you view them from your own perspective. He gives the example of people being in the same place but having totally perspectives that is what Kant meant by unity of consciousness.

Kant had a thought-provoking way of explaining themself. He described it as dumping a puzzle out and it not having meaning until all the pieces are put together to him that’s how the mind works. Our minds gather information and sort it based on significance. He talked about prior meaning was of organizing and relating the world.” (Chaffee, 2016). “Kant backs that the dependence of self-consciousness on consciousness by arguing that the temporal succession of any conscious awareness cannot just consist in the consciousness of one’s representation after another.” (Winfield, 2006). It’s our self that performs and arranges our experience in a way that known and recognizable by significance. Yourself is not like other objects located in your consciousness, self is a subject, an organizing principle that makes an incorporated and unmistakable experience feasible.

According to the source, “Interpersonal Self- Consciousness” talks about self-consciousness in different versions. One involves distinctive knowledge that one is in a certain kind of conscious mental state or enjoying a certain sort of conscious mental event. The second is a distinctive kind of self- consciousness for which passing a mirror test if it’s done right can prove evidence. Interpersonal self-consciousness is an awareness that oneself in another person’s consciousness is present in an ordinary face-to-face conversation with another person. (Peacocke, 2014). In the article, there were two perspectives of self: interpersonal self-consciousness and perspectival self-consciousness. “When a subject is capable of the interpersonal self-conscious states involved in linguistic communication such communication can convey to the subject information that he would otherwise be able to attain, if at all, only by an exercise of perspectival self-consciousness.” (Peacocke, 2014).

John Locke and Immanuel Kant were both believers in self they just both brought out different points and views on it. After looking at and analyzing claims from both I still find Locke’s to be more persuasive because first he discussed (Chaffee, 2016) identifying what it means to be a person, distinguishing a person, and what a person is considered. On the other hand, Kant believes that self has an inner and outer and that’s what forms the consciousness. Locke also believes that one is born with an empty soul. I believe this to be true because as babies we learn from what we see and what we were taught. “Perspectival self-consciousness is a special instance of our more general ability as perceivers to keep track of how things are.” (Noe, 2002).

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John Locke on Personal Identity. (2020, Sep 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/john-locke-on-personal-identity-essay

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