Department: Department Of Philosophy
OSEMWEGIE, T. W.
The critical issue in personal identity is hinged on the continuity of the self or the identity conditions of person. What does being the person that we are from one day to another necessarily consist of? The problem raises two fundamental questions— first, what are the identity conditions of persons? Second, what about when we have a case of one and the same person and when we don’t? To overcome this problem, Locke having rejected bodily and soul criteria, accepted consciousness as the necessary and sufficient conditions; being the only thing capable of remaining the same and preserving personal identity through change. He therefore maintained that personal identity is based on sameness of consciousness and not sameness of substance (body or soul). Accordingly, the research is aimed at inquiring or investigating the basis of Locke’s psychological theory or consciousness criterion of personal identity. Using the method of critical analysis, the research argues (1) that Locke’s choice of consciousness though aptly expounds the continuity of the self, when examined vis-a-vis the idea of time coupled with the indeterminacy of when the self receives consciousness, amounts to contradiction. (2) That contrary to Locke’s argument, persons are conscious contingently in relation to or at a given time and (3) that the intrinsic conception of Locke’s consciousness criterion inevitably leads to absurdity and futility, given that it is not only consciousness that is the basis of a person’s self realization, discovery and actualization but also his social and communal relation with others and the environment in general, regarded as communal consciousness. In conclusion, in order to fill the hitherto existing gap in Locke’s criterion of personal identity, the thesis therefore proposes the notion/theory of ‘reverse transitive consciousness’ or ‘constructive consciousness’ — an extrinsic criterion as complementary to and a more inclusive approach to the problem of personal identity.