David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (5):645 – 672 (2008)
Personal Identity theorists as diverse as Derek Parfit, Marya Schechtman and Galen Strawson have noted that the experiencing subject (the locus of present psychological experience) and the person (a human being with a career/narrative extended across time) are not necessarily coextensive. Accordingly, we can become psychologically alienated from, and fail to experience a sense of identity with, the person we once were or will be. This presents serious problems for Locke's original account of “sameness of consciousness” constituting personal identity, given the distinctly normative (and indeed eschatological) focus of his discussion. To succeed, the Lockean project needs to identify some phenomenal property of experience that can constitute a sense of identity with the self figured in all moments to which consciousness can be extended. I draw upon key themes in Kierkegaard's phenomenology of moral imagination to show that Kierkegaard describes a phenomenal quality of experience that unites the experiencing subject with its past and future, regardless of facts about psychological change across time. Yet Kierkegaard's account is fully normative, recasting affective identification with past/future selves as a moral task rather than something merely psychologically desirable (Schechtman) or utterly contingent (Parfit, Strawson).
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References found in this work BETA
Derek Parfit (1984). Reasons and Persons. Oxford University Press.
John Locke (2008/1995). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Oxford University Press.
William James (1890/1981). The Principles of Psychology. Dover Publications.
Søren Kierkegaard (1992). Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments. Princeton University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Patrick Stokes (2012). Is Narrative Identity Four-Dimensionalist? European Journal of Philosophy 20 (S1):e86-e106.
Patrick Stokes (2011). Uniting the Perspectival Subject: Two Approaches. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (1):23-44.
Patrick Stokes (2012). Ghosts in the Machine: Do the Dead Live on in Facebook? [REVIEW] Philosophy and Technology 25 (3):363-379.
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