more from Joseph Butler

Single Idea 21313

[catalogued under 16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self]

Full Idea

Though consciousness of what is past does ascertain our personal identity to ourselves, yet to say that it makes personal identity, or is necessary to our being the same persons is to say a person has not existed a single moment but what he can remember.

Gist of Idea

If consciousness of events makes our identity, then if we have forgotten them we didn't exist then


Joseph Butler (Analogy of Religion [1736], App.1)

Book Reference

'Personal Identity', ed/tr. Perry,John [University of California 1975], p.100

A Reaction

An over-cautious scepticism has crept in about the reliability of bodily identity. Now we can have photographs and CCTV to prove that we experienced events we have forgotten. Butler is right.