John Locke on Personal Identity

published 6 years ago by BBC Radio

How do we learn to think and write in language so quickly? Gillian Anderson has a clue.

Makes me human is that I'm a member of the species homo sapiens. But what makes me the same person over time maybe something different. In the seventeenth century many philosophers were understandably very worried about what might happen to them on the day of judgment. Traditional Christianity emphasized the resurrection of the body. However some people were very concerned about cannibals. What would happen if you are unfortunate enough to be gobbled up by a hungry human flesh cheetah on the day of judgment how could you be raised in judge since he would have been absolved within somebody else's body. John Locke's account of personal identity avoided that sort of problem. Rather than bodily continuity he focused on memory it is our memories that connect together the different parts of our lives. If it ...

more episodes from A History of Ideas animations