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Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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Aristotelian reconstruction of the concept of personal identity

AlubaBari Desmond Nbete

Abstract


One fundamental problem in metaphysics is to determine what makes a particular person the same over time. What makes a person the selfsame person today as who he or she was yesterday? When someone thinks of himself/herself as the person that he/she is, what is he or she identifying his person with? Is it the name he/she bears, his/her physical body, his/her mind, memory, consciousness, etc., or a certain combination of them? Each of these elements undergoes varying forms and degrees of change. People grow older over time, sometimes becoming completely transformed. They expand their frontiers of knowledge and may forget previous ideas. Some people lose their memories, either temporarily or permanently. Naturally, the human body constantly undergoes physiological changes. Yet, amidst these apparent changes, there appears to be some metaphysical substance, technically identified as the person, which remains what it is from time to time. This paper critically analyzes different conceptions of personal identity, and examines some fundamental questions arising from the various approaches to the analysis of the concept of personhood. It proposes an Aristotelian reconstruction of the notion of personhood, an integrative conception which conceives of personal identity as an organic integration of soul, consciousness and matter.

Keywords: Personal Identity, Self, Soul, Consciousness, Memory, Substance




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