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Memory And Personal Identity Essay

839 words - 4 pages

Questions about God, knowledge, freedom, and immortality are asked not only by philosophers, but by all individuals. Answers to these questions are extraordinarily contradictory because different beliefs and opinions are held by everyone. A major philosophical issue is that of personal identity and immortality. Most commonly, philosophers attempt to discover what makes someone the same person they were ten or 20 years ago. Some argue that memory is the key to personal identity: however, others object.
The problem of personal identity is difficult to solve, especially since there is ambiguity in the terms. Identity may mean the same person or how one sees oneself. Anyhow, philosophers wish to assess this issue and find a suitable explanation, one motivation being responsibility. Humans will hold others responsible for acts such as murder, theft, and fraud. However, the person who will face the consequences must be the one who truly committed the wrongful act. A second motivation is interest in the future. An individual may become concerned or excited for an event that will occur in the future. Surely, these emotions entail that they will be the same person once that event occurs. The last motivation for resolving personal identity is immortality; basically, what will connect a person to whatever lives on after their physical death. Something can be identical in two ways: quantitatively or qualitatively. To be quantitatively identical is to be numerically identical, and to be qualitatively identical is to share exact qualities. There are two criterions on which personal identity is based, but the most important is the metaphysical criterion, which attempts to explain “being” or existence, without the necessity of physical evidence like the epistemological criterion. Lastly, four criteria exist to explain personal identity; the soul, body, memory, and brain criterion. These criteria suggest that the continuation of one of the four mentioned factors define personal identity, and they all imply the existence of immortality.
The memory criterion sets up a very strong argument and explanation for personal identity and immortality. To answer the famous question, what makes someone the same individual they were ten or 20 years ago, memory would be the answer. If an individual goes through an event when they were five years old that left them either traumatized or ecstatic, they are the only ones who will truly remember how they felt that day and what thoughts crossed their mind. It cannot be said that the body is what makes up personal identity, because the cells of the body are...

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