“The thing I am”: Personal identity in Aquinas and Shakespeare

Social Philosophy and Policy 22 (2):250-282 (2005)
The four kinds of explanation identified by Aquinas at the beginning of his commentary on Aristotle's Ethics are deployed to show that the identity of the human person is sui generis and mysterious, even though each of its elements is more or less readily accessible to our understanding. The essay attends particularly to the explorations by Aquinas and, with different techniques, by Shakespeare of the experience and understanding of one's lasting presence to oneself as one and the same bodily and mental self, and one's self-shaping by one's free choices, especially of commitments. Shakespeare further explores these, quite deliberately, through displays of mistaken identity and humiliating deflations of the personas one constructs for life in society
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