chapter  7
17 Pages

Personal Identity: What Am I?

The problem of personal identity can be formulated easily enough. Consider the various different physical and personality characteristics which a single person has in different periods of life.

The Puzzle of Personal Identity Through Change At birth, there is a small organism without much intellectual life and

without a highly differentiated personality. In childhood there is a larger little person, with a definite character and interests. In adolescence, a creature takes its place, sometimes different enough to be thought by its parents to belong to a completely different species. In middle age, there is a rather different-looking person, with differently coloured hair, a different weight and a different psychology. In old age, there is a person of a possibly completely different character, with a memory of childhood events which may be clearer than the memory of the middle-aged person. With these differences there is no single group of personal and physical characteristics which counts as that of the characteristics of the person. There is nothing which endures the same and is present at all the different stages of life.