Synopses & Reviews
This volume brings together the vital contributions of distinguished past and contemporary philosophers to the important topic of personal identity. The first part sets forth the attempts by John Locke, Anthony Quinton, and H. P. Grice to analyze personal identity in terms of memory. The eleven other selections are largely critical of this approach and provide alternative perspectives.
Part II contains classic contributions by Joseph Butler, Thomas Reid, and Sydney S. Shoemaker, and a new paper by John Perry"Personal Identity, Memory, and the Problem of Circularity"in which he defends some of the central features of the Locke-Grice-Quinton approach.
Part III contains three sections from David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature: "Our idea of Identity," "Of Personal Identity," and an appendix which the editor has entitled "Second Thoughts."
In the fourth part of the volume, Bernard Williams discusses "The Self and the Future," and Derek Parfit contributes his view of "Personal Identity."
A recurring theme throughout the work is the possibility of "body transfer"of a single person having, at different times, different bodies. In the final section of the volume ("Brian Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness"), Thomas Nagel examines the philosophical implications of recent scientific research on split-brain patients' he discusses the possibility, entertained by some researchers, that such cases involve two persons simultaneously inhabiting a single body.
In his long introduction to this unique anthology on a topic of prime interest to the philosophical community, Mr. Perry scrutinizes the differing approaches and vocabularies of the various authors. The editor also includes "Suggestions for Further Reading."
About the Author
John Perry is Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, co-host of the award-winning radio program "Philosophy Talk," and author of many books including Knowledge, Possibility, and Conciousness and Identity, Personal Identity, and the Self.