The Problem Of Personal Identi Essay

1718 words - 7 pages

The Problem of Personal Identity In the essay written by John Perry called "Will Tommy Vladek Survive?" Perry presents a very controversial topic. In this story Tommy Vladek is considered brain dead but his body is still totally functional. There is another child in the story who has had an accident, and his body is completely destroyed. The child's body that is completely destroyed still has perfect brain function, and the doctors can put his brain into Tommy's body. Perry presents different views on the topic of who will survive the operation, Tommy who is providing the body, or Sam who is providing the brain? When looking at the main question at hand. Who is Harry Vladek likely to bring home from the hospital? Perry states many times throughout his essay that, Tommy will probably not be the one who survives the operation. Perry is not 100% certain of this, but he states many different concepts of identity and the mind, to help understand who should survive the operation and why. These concepts include identity and similarity, body transfers, brain identity, mind identity and memory theory.The first main concept that Perry states is identity and similarity. He starts by stating the difference between identity and similarity, which most people use to describe the same things. However, when Parry uses the term identity, he means that there is just one thing involved. For example if you have twins, they are not identical twins because if the twins were identical, then only one person would exist. Similarity means two things are the same. So in this case, if you had twins you would say that they are the same. Some philosophers say that we are never identical from moment to moment, because we are always changing and having new thoughts and memories in our brains every second. Personal identity cannot help with the Tommy Vladek case, because you can say that Tommy's physical appearance has not changed at all. But then you could also say that Sam has not changed mentally, he has only changed just physically. So therefore you are saying that both boys are surviving the operation, one of them physically and one of them mentally. This would however mean that both boys are the same person, which Parry goes on to explain in his next part of the essay.Parry also looks at the chance of both Tommy and Sam surviving the operation. This, however is not possible because, if Tommy who is one individual and Sam is the other are said to both be identical with the survivor who is a part of each of them. Then you are simply stating that Tommy and Sam are one identical person. Which is not the case.Next Perry explains the concept of body transfer. Body transfer is very popular among those who believe in life after death. When you pass away your soul goes into another body, and you continue to live. However, if this were the case then the survivor of the operation would be Sam because he is the one who is acquiring the new body.The biggest problem with the theory of...

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