John Locke, Personal Identity and Memento

In Mark T. Conard (ed.), The Philosophy of Neo-Noir. University of Kentucky Press (2006)


In this paper, I compare John Locke’s “memory theory” of personal identity and Memento. I argue that the plot of Memento is ambiguous, in that the main character seems to have two histories. As such, Memento is but a series of puzzle cases that intend to illustrate that, although our memories may not be chronologically related to one another, and may even be fused with the memories of other persons, those memories still constitute personal identity. Just as Derek Parfit argues, perhaps there is no personal identity as such, since only survival matters to us. In Memento, Leonard Shelby is not identity to his former self, but survives to some extent

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