In the John Locke’s Of Identity and Diversity under review, the author discusses several definitions of identity and self and separates them into component parts and terms. His philosophical definitions of thought, perception, and interaction intersect with rejecting and denying certain definitions and concepts. It is necessary to analyze and search for counterexamples corresponding to the redefinition of these concepts to consider the reasons for Locke’s conception of identity and his disagreement with certain ideas. In evaluating the definitions and terms proposed by the author, it becomes possible to better understand the meaning and complexity of identity for the individual.
One of the first Locke defines substance identity, arguing that something remains the same if the material or substance does not change. Such identity consists of preserving the same substance throughout the time of existence. This notion is further divided into two conditions, sufficient and necessary at the same time – continuity of consciousness and substance. However, due to reflection and reasoning, the author rejects this definition because of the possibility of the transfer of consciousness or the commonality of memories.
Another definition of identity is the concept of life and body identity. According to the author, this concept is the simplest and most common way people identify something. It is conditioned on the preservation of identity while maintaining the same life and the same body. The concept is divided into two necessary and sufficient conditions – continuity of physical form and continuity of physical substance. However, this definition does not take into account the physical changes that can occur over time and therefore is also rejected by the author. As a counterexample, the famous philosophical paradox of Theseus’ ship – if the physical body of an object, while preserving its essence, completely changes its composition and substance over time, it can barely be considered the same object. According to the author’s version, both conditions are violated. Hence the identity of the ship is violated.
In addition, another definition must be distinguished: the identity of consciousness, that is, the presence of identity and sameness while maintaining the same consciousness unchanged. According to Locke, this definition is the most viable of the above because it can explain changes in body, life, or substance while maintaining the same identity. When the author’s perspective on consciousness as a set of memories and experiences is realized, two sufficient and necessary conditions of identity can also be distinguished. These include the continuity of consciousness and the obligatory connection between the experience of one consciousness and the next. However, in considering the soul as an analogous concept of religious consciousness, this version is refuted since, in one being, there cannot be several souls or no souls at all, according to the author’s version. The counterexample with the identity of inanimate objects does not stand up to criticism either, depriving the concept of universality.
In examining the counterexamples given by the author, it becomes evident that none of the definitions satisfies the author completely. Each listed concept does not correspond to reality completely and demonstrates exceptions or notable shortcomings. Even the same stable definition of consciousness can be shattered by examples of the existence of people with clinical memory loss. In this case, it is unlikely that a person can be considered to have retained an identity with a fully renewed consciousness. The same physical parameters do not correlate even with the body’s normal aging. In light of these and other counterexamples, the need for a more complete definition of identity becomes clear, with a complete redefinition of concepts and the individual’s relationship to terminology.
Thus, the complexity and importance of understanding the identity of something become clear after reading and analyzing Locke’s material. The author’s reasoning is largely logical, and his counterexamples refute many standard ideas about identity factors. Nevertheless, his essay makes even more apparent the lack of awareness of the real causes and manifestations of identity and the demand for further research in this direction.