An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Of Identity And Diversity

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INTRODUCTION Identity is a relation: it is the relation that each thing bears to itself.He added it to the second edition in 1694 upon the recommendation of his friend William Molyneux.Locke’s theory was soon after its publication discussed by his contemporaries and has influenced many present-day discussions of personal identity.In other words, before we can determine what makes atoms, masses of matter, plants, animals, men, or persons the same over time, we must pin down the nominal essences—or general ideas—for these kinds.Of this Locke says, A person for Locke is thus the kind of entity that can think self reflectively, and think of itself as persisting over time.Among Locke’s other writings, his correspondence with Molyneux (Locke 1976–1989, Volumes 4 and 5) provides helpful insight into the composition of II.xxvii.Additionally, some parts of Locke’s correspondence with Edward Stillingfleet help to clarify Locke’s views (Locke 1824, Volume 3).In the 20th century, psychological accounts of personal identity were often called neo-Lockean theories.It is controversial whether neo-Lockean theories differ from Locke’s own theory, and it can be asked whether the moral and religious dimension of Locke’s theory constitutes an important difference.Nevertheless, Locke’s treatment of personal identity is one of the most discussed and debated aspects of his corpus.Locke’s discussion of persons received much attention from his contemporaries, ignited a heated debate over personal identity, and continues to influence and inform the debate over persons and their persistence conditions.


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