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In philosophy, the issue of personal identity concerns the conditions under which a person at one time is the same person at another time. An analysis of personal identity provides a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the identity of the person over time. This concept of personal identity is sometimes referred to as the diachronic problem of personal identity. It contrasts with the synchronic problem, which is the question of what constitutes personhood at a time - what kind of thing is a person?

John Locke considered personal identity (or the self to be founded on consciousness, and neither on the soul nor on the substance (or the body) (see Consciousness as the basis of personal identity (John Locke)).


The problem of personal identity is at the center of discussions about survival of death and immortality. In order to survive death, there has to be a person after death who is the same person as the person who died. So in virtue of what is the post-death individual the same person as the earlier temporal stage of the person who it is claimed is survived in the post-death individual?

There have been many thought experiments about personal identity, for example, "swamp man".

Further reading[]

  • Daniel Dennett, Where am I?
  • Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons, part 3.
  • Bernard Williams, The Self and the Future, in Philosophical Review 79.
  • Personal life
  • Ship of Theseus (about identity of things generally, not only of persons)
  • John Locke, Of Ideas of Identity and Diversity

See also[]

External link[]

pt:Identidade pessoal

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