« AnteriorContinuar »
against those who would place thinking in a system of fieeting animal spirits, I leave to be considered. But yet to return to the question before us, it must be allowed, 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 if "may be tivo 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 durapotion, may be wholly stripped of all the consciousness of Tas its past existence, and lose it beyond the power of af ever retrieving again; and so as it were beginning a
new account from a new period, have a consciousness
that cannot reach bevond this new state. All those slivet who hold pre-existence are evidently of this mind, since retard they allow the soul to have no remaining consciousperkara ness of what it did in that pre-existent state, either with wholly separate from body, or informing any other the best body; and if they should not, it is plain, experience . fact would be against them. So that personal identity sented reaching no farther than consciousness reaches, a prepetusta esistent spirit not having continued so many ages in a
point state of silence, must needs make difforent persons. mate Suppose a Christian, Platonist, or Pythagorcan should, is 22 upon God's having ended all his works of creation the The seventh day, think his soul liath existed ever since ; U that is and would jinagine it has revolved in several human Sut bodies, as I once met with one, who was persuaded bis nuk diad been the soul of Socrates; (how reasonably I will ar ris not dispute ; this I know, that in the post he filled, and Du which was no inconsiderable one, he passed for a very net in rational man, and the press has shown that he wanted cond not parts or learning) would any one say, that he bening not conscious of any of Socrates's actions or thoughts," i Vol.1.
could be the same person with Socrates? Let any one
make the same man. For should the soul of a prince; carrying with it the consciousness of the prince's past life, enter and inform the body of a cobler, as soon as deserted by his own soul, every one sees he would be the same person with the prince, accountable only for the prince's actions : but who would say it was the same man? The body too goes to the making the man, and would, I guess, to every body determine the man in this case; wherein the soul, with all its princely thoughts about it, would not make another man : but he would be the same cobler to every one besides himself. I know that, in the ordinary way of speaking, the same person, and the same man, stand for one and the same thing. And indeed every one will always have a liberty to speak as he pleases, and to apply what articulate sounds to what ideas he thinks fit, and change them as often as he pleases. But yet when we will inquire what makes the same spirit, man, or person, we must fix the ideas of spirit, man, or person in our minds; and having resolved with ourselves what we mean' by them,
it will not be hard to determine in either of them, or is the like, when it is the same, and when not. $. 16. But though the same immaterial
Conscioussubstance or sou' does not alone, wherever ness makes it be, and in whatsoever state, make the the same same man; yet it is plain consciousness, as person. far as ever it can be extended, should it be to ages past, unites existences and actions, very remote in time, into the same person, as well as it does the existences and actions of the immediately preceding moment: so that whatever has the consciousness of present and past actions, is the saine person to whom they'both belong. Had I the same consciousness that I saw the ark and Noah's flood, as that I saw an overflowing of the
Thames last winter, or as that I write now; I could throch no more doubt that I who write this now, that saw the hem Thames overflowed last winter, and that viewed the flood opening at the general deluge, was the same self, place that self nese in what substance you please, than that I who write Tebe this am the same myself now whilst I write (whether to I consist of all the same substance, material or immai be os terial, or no) that I was yesterday. For as to this
point of being the same self, it matters not whether
(whether spiritual or material, simple or compounded, it matters not), which is sensible, or conscious of pleasure and pain, capable of happiness or misery, and so is concerned for itsclf, as far as that consciousness extends. Thus every one finds, that whilst comprehended under that consciousness, the little finger is as much a part of himself, as what is most so. Upon separation of this litile finger, should this consciousness go along with the little finger, and leave the rest of the body, it is evident the little finger would be the person, the same person; and self then would have nothing to do with the rest of the body. As in this case it is the consciousness that goes along with the substance, when one part is separate from another, which makes the same person, and constitutes this inseparable self; so it is in reference to substances remote in time. That with which the consciousness of this present thinking thing can join itself, makes the same person, and is one self with it, and with nothing else; and so attributes to itself, and owns all the actions of that thing as its own, as far as that consciousness rcaches, and no farther; as every one who reflects will perceive. Objects of $. 18. In this personal identity, is found: reward and ed all the right and justice of retrard and punishment. punishment; happiness and misery being that for which every one is concerned for liimself, and not mattering what becomes of any substance not joined to, or affected with that consciousness. For as it is evident in the instance I gave but now, if the conscitere ousness went along with the little finger when it was pla cut off, that would be the same self which was con: cerned for the whole body yesterday, as making part de itself, whose actions then it cannot but admit as its own now. Thouglı if thc same body should still live, and
immediately, from the separation of the little finger, have its own peculiar consciousness, whereof the litile finger krew nothing; it would not at all be concerned for it, as a part of itself, or could own any of its actions, or have any of them imputed to him.
§. 19. This may show us wherein personal identity consists; not in the identity of substance, but, as I have said, in the identity of consciousness; wherein, if Socrates and the present mayor of Queenborough agree, they are the same person: if the same Socrates waking and sleeping do not partake of the same consciousness, Socrates waking and sleeping is not the same person. And to punish Socrates waking for what sleeping Socrates thought, and waking Socrates was never conscious of; would be no more of right, than to punish one twin for what his brother-twin did, whereof he knew nothing, because their outsides were so like, that they could not be distinguished; for such twins have been seen.
. 20. But yet possibly it will still be objected, suppose I wholly lose the memory of some parts of my life beyond a possibility of retrieving them, so that perhaps I shall never be conscious of them again; yet am I not the same person that did those actions, had those thoughts that I once was conscious of, though I have now forgot them? To which I answer, that we must here take notice what the word I is applied to; which, in this case, is the man only. And the same man being presumed to be the same person, I is easily here supposed to stand also for the same person. But if it be possible for the same man to have distinct income municable consciousness at different times, it is past doubt the same man would at different times make different persons; which, we see, is the sense of mankind in the solemnest declaration of their opinions; human laws not punishing the mad man for the sober man's actions, nor the sober man for what the mad man did, thereby making them two persons: which is somewhat explained by our way of speaking in English, when we say such an one is not himself, or is beside himself; in which phrases it is insinuated, as if those who now, or at least first used thein, thought that self was changed, the self-same person was no longer in that man). 13