Personal identity theory is not a new phenomenon, but it has been linked to several research attempting to understand various personality characteristics. Such research can be traced back to Plato’s period. The questions are designed to shed light on people’s relationships with themselves and others. Identity, in basic terms, determines what a thing is and what distinguishes it from all other things. As a result, personhood includes all of the characteristics that contribute to personality. Many philosophers have concluded that attempting to describe our identity is futile because it is impossible to separate self from the equation and examine “self” critically. Thus, this argument seeks to expand on the theories of personality through investigating the discussion in Doctor Who’s science fiction show Identity theory is primarily a logical theory that sets out to describe persons’ role-rated behaviors. It is closely related to the social psychological theory that emphasizes on multi-faceted and compelling self that resolves the connection between social structures and personal behaviors. Personality is viewed from a perspective of traits that makes a person feel different from any ther being or thing for that matter. Psychology attributes such notion to individual behavior that distinguishes a person from others. Despite the objections against memory theory, it forms the most reliable isolated attribute of self wherein memories do not just constitute what we did previously, but are vital catalysts for actions, feelings perceptions towards different phenomena.
Locke’s Memory Theory
John Locke explores the concept of personal identity from the perspective of consciousness, which he believes can further explains the notions behind life after death. In this tenet, personal identity is viewed as a contest with the fundamental inquiries of people’s presence, and what they are, and what happened after death. Parfit also argues that if a person survives brain surgery, such that the brain is transplanted to another person, then the memories and experiences would be carried through the brains, hence, suggesting that the identity is retained through the brains. Such kind of analysis regarding individual identity provides the background and circumstances for the distinctiveness of the person over the time. The same challenge of character is described as the diachronic problem of personality. Such challenge is founded on the features or traits that define a person at any time. As such, Locke was one of those scholars who were opposed to the notion regarding the Cartesian theory that assumed that soul accounts for personal identity. In one of his essays found in “Identity and Diversity,” Locke conceptualizes consciousness as repeated self-identification on oneself. That perception contradicts what both the Augustinian hold as originally wrong and Cartesian position.
Locke contemplates the idea that links the body and the soul in which he believes that thoughts may certainly be accepted by those affiliated to scientific notions and often identify with brain consciousness. The view is based on the precepts that body as anything may change, but the conscious remains the same. Accordingly, personal identity cannot be derived from the brain but conscious based on the argument that brain is the part of the body. The consciousness remains unchanged, but the brain can be changed by circumstances thereby indicating that personality is derived from the awareness of the person. Locke also looks at the problems of identity as centered in the discussion of life after death and the concept of immortality. The concern is that if there exists life after death, then there must be a person with the same identity as the person who died. If such exists, the identity can be moved through consciousness from one soul to another such as the character moves with the consciousness of the individual. Locke asserts that if consciousness remains the same from one object to another, but the soul is changing, the preservation of personal identity is achieved. However, it is also clear that consciousness might be lost through loss of memory. The soul might remain the same even when the memory is lost. In this case, there is the same soul but different person since there is no consciousness. Such argument affirms that personal identity is not constructed from the concept of soul or thinking substance.
Locke notes that things exist as atoms, complex bodies, and persons. He suggests that atoms are unchanging and occur in a clear space from each other. Such thoughts meant it was easy to explain what comprises an atom as it continues to exist over time. Evidently, the definition of matter according to such perception of Locke does not seem to favor living things, in that, they change after a while. However, he uses the same narration when dealing with a human being which creates a sense of weakness in his theory. The weakness of such argument is the fact that personal identity cannot be a contrast of time. The argument as a present by John Locke, given the changes that exist, indicates that one’s identity exists as long as one’s consciousness exists. That notion refutes the discussion of identity in relation to matter. One might also try to connect the facts that consciousness implies or accompanies thinking which in one way or another implies memory. In this light, memory forms an essential consideration in the construction of self, and, therein, personal identity.
Objection to Locke’s Theory
The brave officer paradox
Locke’s proposition has been subjected to criticism by many philosophers most of whom take issue concerning the hypothesis that memory is required quality for personal identity. One opponent john Perry refutes the mandatory condition of consciousness by claiming that if one goes to a market and remembers then it confirms that he went there, but if he forgets it does not mean that he never went anywhere. Although Perry’s objection was not acclaimed by many Reid reinforces it by giving the brave officer paradox. In this paradox consider an officer who had been chastised during his school days for stealing. The same officer had been instrumental in times of war, and later in life, the officer was made a general. What if during the war he remembered to have been chastised and when he was made a general, he remembered to his days of glory in the fight but entirely forgot about his school days
Reid’s rejection of Locke’s theory is surrounded by the concept of transitivity that id X = Y and Y= Z then X=Z, which in this case can be analogous to identity. Reid conclusively showed that although the person had forgotten being chastised, he is the same person. In Locke’s view, it can be refuted that the boy and the general have the identity, therefore throwing the theory into jeopardy.
Reid’s paradox destabilizes Locke’s proposal which the need amending or a better way be assigned to it to make more plausible. H.P. Grice, a memory theorist, give a solution to the paradox which response to Reid’s counterexample. He brings about a new concept referred to as total temporary state which is meant to consist the total of a person’s experiences at any particular time. A person’s identity is made of consecutive of t.t.s which are ascribing to the specific person. Grice uses this propitiation to address the issue that is raised by Reid. In consecutive t.t.s belonging to a given self, every temporary state which is a component of that particular group will have as part of the person a memory shared element of the earlier state. If it were different personalities, this would not be possible. In essence, Grice argues that each t.t.s of a self-consists some element or a mark shared by the temporary state following it in time which can be allocated to that same self and emphasize that this would not be possible for t.t.s of different persons.
Body and soul theories
Another critical theory that tries to explain personal identity is the soul and the body theory. The premise examines what happens when “Person A” has a personal identity and only if they have the “Same body X.” The concern regarding this construct is that it is possible to have changes in the body, hence, the definition might not to hold. Another concern has to do with body alteration such as when a person undergoes body surgery. Moreover, when a person is faced with an accident and part of the body is removed, that person does not stop being the same. The case of Dennett where he wakes up from surgery, has some loss of memory and has undergone surgery shows that the body cannot be the only thing that identifies a person. Moreover, he talks to his brain and suggests that those are “his brain” and the rest is just the body that sits next to him, hence, dissociating the body from the mind or what can be viewed as the identity. DNA can also be used to clone another person which raises the concern of identity-based on the body of the two.
The body theory also assumes the body does not change at any time if the living material remains the same. The body, in this case, is a construct of the identity and forms an essential part of personality. Without the body the person cannot exist, hence, the identity of the person is lost. Accordingly, the nature of the body is not transferable, thus, supporting the premise that the body is essential in the formulation of the identity. Unlike soul theory, the weakness of the body is that once it dies and decays, then the existence of the person stops. The account of future life is not acceptable in this approach since once a person dies the body stops to exist. However, when incorporating the argument of possible future life than a weakness inexperienced in the body theory.
When linking the above mentioned theories to Doctor Who , the traveler of both space and time, it is evident that the physical and personality changes do not interfere with his memories. The regeneration from those changes temporarily disorients and weakens the doctor, but he still retains his identity all through as he experiences the transformations. The changes he experiences raises issue of time travel paradox as discussed by Lewis. He asserts that, if time travels then it should not give rise to contradictions in that personality should remain the same even as the person moves within time. The doctor also has some female companions who change from time to time and gives him an opportunity to explain some basic facts about himself to the new companion. The book explores the issues of personal identity and offers explanations regarding “who” we are. Moreover, the science, logic, speciesism, perception, physics, and causation are described in the text.
The critical aspects addressed in the text are particularly regarding the philosophy of personal identity. Through undergoing physical changes, the Doctor raises concerns regarding personality issues such as to what defines or describes personality. In this light, the argument seems to follow the logic of John Locke indicating that body and soul change based on memories as noted in the personality of Doctor Who is created in different realms. Accordingly, it is evident that Doctor Who indirectly through his complex personalities indicates that identity is not built or defined by the body or the soul. The changes of the female characters also tend to imply that personality is not based on the physical body as indicated by the body theory but through memory.
Although Grices’ interjection makes sense, it still does not explicitly define personal identity. His attempt simple bundles many experiences together that considering occurrences singularly. Nevertheless, because Grice claims sufficiently address Reid’s paradox, one can contend that his argument as regards transitivity is satisfactory and therefore can be acceptable.
Additionally, despite the objections against memory theory, it forms the most reliable isolated attribute of self. Memories do not just constitute what we did previously, but are vital catalysts for actions, feelings perceptions towards different phenomena. The psychological characteristics of a person emanating from one’s memories. One being perceived another not just by physical attributes, but also by a mixture of a series of memories which lays a common foundation for the self. Furthermore even if one loses their minds, they do cease to exist since there are two types of memories: The conscious as well as the subconscious. The conscious memories are useful majorly for remembering what we did previously. Conscious mind helps people to interact with one another through shared experiences. Even in person suffers from complete amnesia, there are the repressed memories which enable the person walk in their old unique way, smile or hold a tool in a particular ancient way.
As regards the body theory, the physical matter cannot suffice to classify one’s peculiar identity. For instance, a person who cannot see can still know their relatives. Identifying family members does not only depend on tangible factors such as voice but also the way one uses voice to pass out theory feelings, thoughts and needs. The blind may be able to determine when an acquaintance is happy, sad or not telling the truth. This insight does not come from physical attributed, but by a particular character that is repeatedly exhibited until memory can get used to it. Given the soul theory, Perry asserts that souls cannot be observed, felt or smelt. Furthermore, there is not a mechanism for determining when the soul is existing or otherwise.
Despite the objections against memory theory, it forms the most reliable isolated attribute of self wherein memories do not just constitute what we did previously, but are vital catalysts for actions, feelings perceptions towards different phenomena. Personal identity is an essential aspect of human life since people seek to understand themselves as independent things others and different objects. In this view, consciousness plays an imperative function in the definition of personality. Without the existence of consciousness and memories created in Doctor Who , it will not be possible to recognize as the same person considering that his body and soul keeps changing over time as he moves from one realm to another.
Dennett, Daniel. “Where Am I?” Lehigh.Edu , 2017.
Facenda, Neusa. “Magnificat – Marymount Commons.” Magnificat, A journal of
undergraduate nonfiction April 2010. Accessed December 4, 2017. https://www.bing.com/cr?IG=7DF5837EE61A4D8A98559609AAE4CF61&CID=05774CD87376639C086D47967270628C&rd=1&h=1HEp0XqlxpongJgfy27E5i5FS1iJwOlXGSUELkRbPf8&v=1&r=https%3a%2f%2fcommons.marymount.edu%2fmagnificat%2fpast-issues%2fapril-2010%2f&p=DevEx,5041.1.
Grice, H.P. “Personal Identity.” Perry, John. Personal Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. 73-95
Hogg, Michael A., Deborah J. Terry, and Katherine M. White. “A tale of two theories: A critical
comparison of identity theory with social identity theory.” Social psychology quarterly (1995): 255-269.
Lewis, Courtland, and Paula Smithka, eds. More Doctor Who and Philosophy: Regeneration Time. Vol. 93. Open Court, 2015.
Lewis, David. “The paradoxes of time travel.” American Philosophical Quarterly 13, no. 2 (1976): 145-152.
Locke, John. “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Perry, John. Personal Identity.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, 33-52.
Parfit, Derek. “Personal Identity.” The Philosophical Review 80, no. 1, 1971, 34-47.
Perry, John. A dialogue on personal identity and immortality. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1978.
Piccirillo, Ryan A. “The Lockean Memory Theory of Personal Identity: Definition, Objection,
Response.” Inquiries Journal. August 01, 2010. Accessed December 04, 2017. http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1683/the-lockean-memory-theory-of-personal-identity-definition-objection-response.