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consciousness, always remained present in the mind, whereby the same thinking thing would be always consciously present, and, as would be thought, evidently the same to itselt. But that which seems to make the difficulty is this, that this consciousness being interrupted always by forgetfulness, there being no moment of our lives wherein we have the whole train of all our past actions before our eyes in one view, but even the best memories losing the sight of one part whilst they are viewing another; and we sometimes, and that the greatest part of our lives, not reflecting on our past selves, being intent on our present thoughts, and in sound sleep having no thoughts at all, or at least none with that consciousness which remarks our waking thoughts : I say, in all these cases, our consciousness being interrupted, and we losing the sight of our past selves, doubts are raised whether we are the same thinking thing, i. e. the same substance or no. Which, however reasonable or unreasonable, concerns not personal identity at all: the question being, what makes the same person, and not whether it be the same identical substance, which always thinks in the same person ; which in this case matters not at all: different substances, by the same consciousness (where they do partake in it), being united into one person, as well as different bodies by the same life are united into one animal, whose iden. tity is preserved, in that change of substances, by the unity of one continued life. For it being the same consciousness that inakes a man be himself to himself, personal identity depends on that only, whether it be annexed solely to one individual substance; or can be continued in a succession of several substances. For as far as any intelligent being can repeat the idea of any past action with the same consciousness it had of it at first, and with the same consciousness it has of any present action; so far it is the same personal self. For it is by the consciousness it has of its present thoughts and actions, that it is self to itself now, and so will be the same self, as far as the same consciousness can extend to actions past or to come ; and would be by distance of time, or change of substance, no more two 1
persons, ihan a man be two men by wearing other clothes to-day than he did yesterday, with a long or a short sleep between: the same consciousness uniting those distant actions into the same person, whatever substances contributed to their production.
$. 11. That this is so, we have some Personal kind of evidence in our very bodies, all identity in whose particles, whilst vitally united to this change of
substances. same thinking conscious self, so that we feel when they are touched, and are affected by, and conscious of good or harm that happens to them, are a part of ourselves; i. e. of our thinking conscious self. Thus the limbs of his body are to every one a part of himself; he sympathizes and is concerned for them. Cut off an hand, and thereby separate it from that consciousness he had of its heat, cold, and other affections, and it is then no longer a part of that which is himself, any more than the remotest part of matter. Thus we see the substance, whereof personal self consisted at one time, may be varied at another, without the change of personal identity; there being no question about the same person, though the limbs which but now were a part of it, be cut off.
9. 12. But the question is, “ whether if the same "substance which thinks, be changed, it can be the
same person; or, remaining the same, it can be dif"ferent persons ?'
And to this I answer, first, This can be Whether in no question at all to those who place the change of thought in a purely inaterial animal con- thinking
substances. stitution, void of an immaterial substance. For whether their supposition be true or no, it is plaio they conceive personal identity preserved in something else than identity of substance; as animal identity is preserved in identity of life, and not of substance. And therefore those who place thinking in an immaterial substance only, before they can come to deal with these men, must show why personal identity cannot be preserved in the change of immaterial substances, or variety of particular inmaterial substances, as well as animal identity is preserved in the change of material
substances, or variety of particular bodies : unless they will say, it is one iinmaterial spirit that inakes the same life in brutes, as it is one immaterial spirit that makes the same person in ien; which the Cartesians at least will not admit, for fear of making brutes thinking things too.
9. 13. But next, as to the first part of the question, “ whether if the same thinking substance (supposing “immaterial substances only to think) be changed, it s can be the same person?" I answer, that cannot be resolved, but by those who know what kind of substances they are that do think, and whether the consciousness of past actions can be transferred from one thinking substance to another. I grant, were the saine consciousness the same individual action, it could not: but it being a present representation of a past action, why it may not be possible, that that may be represented to the mind to have been, which really never was, will remain to be shown. And therefore how far the consciousness of past actions is annexed to any individual agent, so that another cannot possibly have it, will be hard for us to determine, till we know what kind of action it is that cannot be done without a reflex act of perception accompanying it, and how performed by thinking substances, who cannot think without being conscious of it. But that which we call the same consciousness, not being the same individual act, why one intellectual substance may not have represented to it, as done by itself, what it never did, and was perhaps done by some other agent; why, I say, such a representation may not possibly be without reality of matter of fact, as well as several representations in dreams are, which yet whilst dreaming we take for true, will be difficult to conclude from the nature of things. And that it never is so, will by us, till we have clearer views of the nature of thinking substances, be best resolved into the goodness of God, who as far as thic happines or misery of any of his sensible creatures is concerned in it, will not by a fatal error of theirs transfer from one to another that consciousness which draws reuard or punishment with it. How far this may be an argument
against against those who would place thinking in a system of ficeting animal spirits, I leave to be considered. But yet to return to the question before us, it must bé al. lowed, that if the same consciousness (which, as has been shown, is quite a different thing from the same numerical figure or motion in body) can be transferred from one thinking substance to another, it will be possible that two thinking substances may make but one person. For the same consciousness being preserved, whether in the same or different substances, the personal identity is preserved.
§. 14. As to the second part of the question, “whe"ther the same immaterial substance remaining, there
may be two distinct persons ?" which question seems to me to be built on this, whether the same iinmaterial being, being conscious of the action of its past duration, may be wholly stripped of all the consciousness of its past existence, and lose it beyond the power of ever retrieving again, and so as it were beginning a new account froin a new period, have a consciousness that cannot reach bevond this new state. All those who hold pre-existence are evidently of this mind, since they allow the soul to liave no remaining consciousness of what it did in that pre-existent state, either wholly separate from body, or informing any other body; and if they should not, it is plain, experience would be against them. So that personal identity reaching no farther than consciousness reaches, a preexistent spirit not having continued so many ages in a state of silence, must needs make different persons. Suppose a Christian, Platonist, or Pythagorcan should, upon God's having ended all his works of creation the seventh day, think his soul hath existed ever since ; and would imagine it has revolved in several luman bodies, as I once met with one, who was persuaded bis had been the soul of Socrates; (how reasonably I will not dispute ; this I know, that in the post he filled, which was no inconsiderable one, he passed for a very rational man, and the press has shown that he wanted not parts or learning) would any one say, that he being not conscious of any of Socrates's actions or thoughts, Vol. I. Z
could be the same person with Socrates ? Let any one reflect upon himself, and conclude that he has in him. self an iinmaterial spirit, which is that which thinks in him, and in the constant change of his body keeps him the same; and is that which he calls himself: Let him also suppose it to be the same soul that was in Nestor or Thersites, at the siege of Troy (for souls being, as far as we know any thing of them in their nature, indifferent to any parcel of matter, the supposition has no apparent absurdity in it), which it may have been, as well as it is now the soul of any other man: but he now having no consciousness of any of the actions either of Nestor or Thersites, does or can he conceive himself the same person with either of them? can he be concerned in either of their actions? attribute them to himself, or think them his own more than the actions of any other men that ever existed? So that this consciousness not reaching to any of the actions of either of those men, he is no more one self with either of them, than if the soul or immaterial spirit that now informs him, had been created, and began to exist, when it began to inform his present body; though it were ever so true, that the same spirit that informed Nestor's or Thersites's body, were numerically the same that now informs his. For this would no more make him the same person with Nestor, than if some of the particles of matter that were once a part of Nestor, were now a part of this man; the same immaterial substance, without the same consciousness, no more making the same person by being united to any body, than the same particle of matter, without consciousness uvited to any body, makes the same person. But let him once find himself conscious of any of the actions of Nestor, he then finds himself the same person with Westor.
Śred 5. And thus we may be able, without any difficulty; to conceive the same person at the resurrection, though in a body not exactly in make or parts the same which he had here, the same consciousness going along with the soul tirat inhabits it. But yet the soul alone, in the change of bodies, would scarce to any one, but to him that makes the soul the man, be enough to