What Is John Locke's View Of Personal Identity

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According to John Locke, personal identity across time depends entirely upon the sameness of consciousness over time. Consciousness is what ties oneself to their past and present self. Without consciousness, even if the substance and the man stay consistent, they will no longer have the same personal identity. No matter how much time passes between moments, a being has the same personal identity, if they can perceive themselves with their consciousness as the same being throughout the time period. Locke describes this by stating, “Distance of time does not make him two or more persons, and nor does change of substance: any more than a man is made to be two men by having a long or short sleep of by changing his clothes” (Coursepack 165). John Locke’s view of personal identity differs from his view in the identity of man. He believes that the identity of man is simply the body that a person travels with through time. For example, if one were to replace the consciousness of a man with a …show more content…
Locke’s prince-and-the-cobbler story describes a prince who leaves his own body and enters into a cobbler’s body. The prince would still view himself as the prince who once accompanied a prince’s body after the transformation. Although in a different body, he would still consider himself as the same person. However, to everyone else around him, he would no longer be considered a prince, and instead, he would be considered a cobbler.
Locke uses the prince-and-the-cobbler example to demonstrate the difference between the identity of man and personal identity. The prince has the same personal identity, one of being a prince, but after changing bodies, the prince would have a different identity of man. The prince would have no idea about the cobbler’s past life, but instead, he would only have recollections about what he had done as a prince in the past. The prince-and-the-cobbler scenario clearly demonstrates this difference between personal identity and the identity of