Meeting 37

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DATE: Tuesday, September 14

TIME: 1 PM Princeton time (ET) / 8 PM Bucharest time (UTC+2)

PANEL: Locke’s Theory of Personal Identity in Context

SPEAKERS: Anita van der Bos (University of Groningen) & Michael Jacovides (Purdue University)


The Implications of Locke’s Theory of Personal Identity on the Belief of the Resurrection of the Same Body: The Debate between Whitby and Bold (download handout)

Anita van der Bos

Locke’s distinction between ‘man’, ‘person’, and ‘body’ was a big innovation in the seventeenth century. His theory of personal identity was the centre of many debates and is still discussed today. In the talk I’ll be giving today I want to familiarize you a bit with a lesser known debate, the one between Daniel Whitby and Samuel Bold. I’ll be focussing on Whitby’s critique of Locke. I intend to show that Whitby fails to understand what Locke meant with ‘person’, ‘man’, and ‘body’. Whitby’s interchangeable use of Lockean terms makes his account of the resurrection contradictory and problematic. It also shows that he and Locke are talking past one another.

Hobbes’s Influence on Locke’s Theory of Personal Identity

Michael Jacovides

According to Locke, in order to judge identity “aright, we must determine what Idea the Word it is applied to stands for: It being one thing to be the same Substance, another the same Man, and a third the same Person.” Hobbes writes, “we must consider by what name any thing is called, when we enquire concerning the Identity of it; for it is one thing to ask concerning Socrates whether he be the same Man, and another to ask whether he be the same Body.” I want to draw out the influence of Hobbes’s account of identity in de Corpore on Locke’s theory of identity and the influence of his discussion of persons in Leviathan on Locke’s theory of persons. This will help us understand Locke’s doctrine that sameness of body requires sameness of all corporeal constituents, explain his mention of sources of motion in his treatment of the identity of artifacts and living things, and, most importantly, clarify the role of composition in his account of identity. I’ll show how Locke’s theory of personal identity is, in the first instance, a Lockean solution to a Hobbesian problem. I close by explaining a mysterious but illuminating argument against Hobbes’s philosophy of mind in Locke’s chapter on personal identity.

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