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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

This paper analyzes the philosophical concept of personal identity. I detail a metaphysics that explains what we are and who we are by virtue of being human. I argue that, by looking at the persistence question from the perspective of science and human intuition, there is no one thing that remains the same throughout a human life i.e. there is no such thing as personal identity (as it is traditionally defined). We should instead view our lives as a collection of selves or ‘temporal parts of animals’ as put by David Lewis. I offer an account of the self in terms of psychological connectedness- a term pioneered and borrowed from Derek Parfit’s essay Personal Identity in which he claims that what matters in survival can have degrees. We continue to exist only to the degree that certain direct psychological relations hold. What matters in the survival of persons is entirely subjective and differs from person to person. The existence of a human being is differentiated from the existence of a person and the existence of a self. The riddle of personal identity is imperative because it’s conclusion determines not only how we function in a society, but also how it should be structured.

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