Nov 8, 2017 in Analysis

Derek Parfit: Personal Identity

Derek in his theory argues that it is not easy to attach meaning to life at a personal level. He says that identity is not found in a person as an individual but in their components. What makes a person is what identifies them. Life is not about personal identity but psychological connectedness and relation. People are said to have survived, not because of the aspects of their lives but because of the relations and connectedness of the lives they lived. His theories were based on reductionist view that he seems to have adopted from Trek Star. He argues that identity cannot be narrowed down to human beings but can be described as human interaction and relation. According to him, life is more than being alive but extends to what is done in that life to compliment being alive. Therefore, personal identity cannot be measured by the fact that an individual is alive. Personal identity can be determined through an individual’s achievement and efforts made during the existence. Psychological connectedness and relation are the most important aspects of personal identity. These two adequately describe who the individual was or is from a deeper view.

Although Derek argues from the reductionist point of view, some reductionists differ with him. Mark Johnston is a good example. Mark argues that personal identity begins with the individuals. Even though, the individuals matter least in personal identity description, they are the center of the description. This makes the individuals remarkably important. That means, though there may exist other factors about personal identity, the persons or individuals in question are inevitable. Johnson adds that it is what makes the individuals that matter most. Therefore, personhood is most important in determining personal identity. Personhood can be described to be what makes a person but not only the individual persons.

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