Imagination and the sense of identity

In David Cockburn (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. New York: Cambridge University Press 143-155 (1991)
Most of us, at one time or another, will have been struck by a thought that we might wish to express in the following words: ‘I could have been born in a different time and place, my position in life and all my personal characteristics could have been completely different from what they are; how amazing then that it should have fallen to my lot to live my life, the only life I shall ever live, as this particular individual rather than any other.’ This thought need not derive from a sense that there is anything unusual about one's life; what it expresses, rather, may be the sense that there is something gratuitous or contingent about one's being any particular individual at all. This sense of contingency might be connected with a feeling of gratitude, perhaps of responsibility towards others less fortunate in life; or it might be bound up with envy, or pride, or self-pity, etc
Keywords Human  Identity  Imagination
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246100007517
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