Can Hume save himself? On the importance of contiguity in the constitution of our idea of personal identity

Document Type: 
ASSC Conference Item
Article Type: 
Theory of Consciousness
Personal identity, self-consciousness, the body, David Hume
Date of Issue: 
Lybaert, Fauve

I demonstrate how Hume could find a way out of the problems he admits to have with his analysis of personal identity if he would consider the importance of the contiguity of a person to his body for the former's constitution.

This recognition of the role of contiguity in the constitution of personal identity is fruitful for the contemporary discussion on personal identity. It allows one to criticize views which reduce persons to psychological continuity or bodies. A person is neither, but the fact that one can trace oneself via the body allows for the generation and discovery of psychological continuity.

The here laid link between contiguity and personal identity also highlights the ignored relevance of Kripke¹s analysis of proper names for the question of personal identity. Kripke discovers that we still call someone the same as long as he has the same origin and regardless of the specific character traits he develops. I point out that we follow a person in such a case through the perception of the apparent continuity of his body and contiguity of him to his body.

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