Persons and relics

Ratio 21 (2):134–146 (2008)
We describe a number of puzzling phenomena and use them as evidence for a hypothesis about why bodily continuity matters for personal identity. The phenomena all belong to a particular kind of symbolisation: each of them illustrates how an entity (object or person) sometimes acquires symbolic significance in virtue of a material link with the symbolised entity. Relics are the most obvious example of what happens here: they are cherished, desired or respected, not because of their intrinsic features, but because of their material link with some significant individual person. Crucial for the hypothesis we wish to defend, is the fact that a human being can in some cases and for some others function as a relic of what she used to be; in these cases a human individual has a specific significance in virtue of a material link (bodily continuity) with her own past. We argue that this phenomenon can be extended and that the importance of bodily continuity for personal identity is constituted by the kind of symbolisation upon which the existence of relics is based.1.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2008.00391.x
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Paul Moyaert (2015). Touching God in His Image. Heythrop Journal 56 (2):192-202.

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