Locke’s writings on personal identity delveinto themes examining memory and consciousness; the relativity of identity; andthe distinctions between man, person, and substance.
To reduce ambiguityassociated with the relativity in defining personal identity, Locke classifiedthe person as the conscience. The conscious is separate from the body, but notfrom the personality or the soul. Consciousness that persists through timeconnects the person in the present with the same person in the past, regardlessof whether the same body maintained. Two persons may exist at one time, inseparate bodies, as long as a shared consciousness is present. Given that histhorough ideas follow logically, I support Locke’s position that personalidentity lies within consciousness.Locke explored what it is sufficient to be, andthe difference between, the identity of the person; the man; and the substance.In his writings on identity, Locke presents the following questions: “Whatmakes a person the same person over time?” and “Can more than one person existwithin the same immaterial substance?” (Jacobsen, 2016, pp. 51,52).
Lock recognized that personal identity was relative, clarification ofthe term was necessary before one could examine the matter further. As such, hebegan his discussions on personal identity by expressing that such an idea cannotbe explored without first defining what is meant by ‘persons’. He indicatesthat to be human is neither sufficient nor necessary, to meet the definition ofperson; it is in awareness and consciousness that a person is defined. Consciousness is the awareness of what isexperienced by our senses, and the awareness of our awareness of such. A man’sconsciousness is their identity; consciousness is the person within the man. Theidentity of the person, the man, and the substance do not exist within eachother’s identities.
More than one person can exist within the sameimmaterial substance. One can remain thesame man and not continue as the same person. One man sleeping, will be adifferent person than the same man awake.
Locke : “Socrates waking and sleepingis not the same person.” (Jacobsen, 2016, p. 53) Within the samebody, two persons may exist. If all memory were to be lost by the person, thesame man remains, but a new consciousness (person) enters the body.It is in consciousness that a person can be thesame in the present as in the past. Memories of the past and present make upthe self, and links the self to its previous selves. To remember all memoriesthroughout time, with the same conscious awareness as was present during the makingof the memory itself, can be taken to show that the same person persistedthrough time.
Two different bodies may share the sameconsciousness and thus may be considered the same person. Locke wrote: “in theidentity of consciousness, wherein if Socrates and the present mayor ofQueenborough agree, they are the same person…” (Jacobsen, 2016, p. 53). Consciousness is entwinedwith the soul, not the body. The prospects for immortality are not dependent onresurrection within the same body. Rather, immortality occurs through theconsciousness moving to a new host body.