« PreviousContinue »
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 lie 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 the like, when it is the same, and when not. §. 16. But though the same immaterial
Conscious. substance 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 moinent: so that whatever has the consciousness of present and past actions, is the same 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 no more doubt that I who write this now, that saw the Thames overflowed last winter, and that viewed the flood at the general deluge, was the same self, place that self in what substance you please, than that I who write this am the same myself now whilst I write (whether I consist of all the same substance, material or immaterial, or no) that I was yesterday. For as to this ጊ 9
point of being the same self, it matters not whether this present self be made up of the same or other substances; I being as much concerned, and as justly accountable for any action that was done a thousand
years since, appropriated to me now by this self-consciousness, as I am for what I did the last moment. Self depends $. 17. Self is that conscious thinking on conscious thing, whatever substance made up of
(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 itself, as far as that consciousness extends. Thus every onc 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 little 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 reaches, and no farther; as every one who reflects will perceive. Objects of . 18. In this personal identity, is foundreward and ed all the right and justice of reward and punishinent.
punishment; happiness and misery being that for which every one is concerned for himself, and not mattering what becomes of any substance not joined to, or afected with that consciousness. For as it is evident in the instance I gave but now, if the consciousness went along with the little finger when it was cut off, that would be the saine self which was concerned for the whole body yesterday, as making part of itself, whose actions then it cannot but admit as its own now. Though if the same body should still live, and
immediately, from the separation of the little finger, have its own peculiar consciousness, whereof the little 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.
9. 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 incommunicable 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 many, 73
§. 21. But yet it is hard to conceive that between Socrates, the same individual man, should identity of be two persons. To help us a little in this, man and per- we must consider what is meant by Socrates, son.
or the same individual man. First, it must be either the same individual, immaterial, thinking substance; in short, the same numerical soul, and nothing else.
Secondly, or the same animal, without any regard to an immaterial soul.
Thirdly, or the same immaterial spirit united to the same animal.
Now take which of these suppositions you please, it is impossible to make personal identity to consist in any thing but consciousness, or reach any farther than that does.
For by the first of them, it must be allowed possible that a man born of different women, and in distant times, may be the same man. A way of speaking, which whoever admits, must allow it possible for the same man. to be two distinct persons, as any two that have lived in different ages, without the knowledge of one another's thoughts.
By the second and third, Socrates in this life, and after it, cannot be the same man any way, but by the same consciousness; and so making human identity to consist in the same thing wherein we place personal identity, there will be no difficulty to allow the same man to be the same person. But then they who place human identity in consciousness only, and not in something else, must consider how they will make the infant Socrates the same man with Socrates after the resurrection. But whatsoever to some men makes a man, and consequently the same individual man, wherein perhaps few are agreed, personal identity can by us be placed in nothing but consciousness (which is that alone which makes what we call self) without involving us in great absurdities.
H. 22. But is not a man drunk and sober the same person? Why else is he punished for the fact he commits when drunk, though he be never afterwards conscious
of it? Just as much the same person as a man, that walks, and does other things in his sleep, is the same person, and is answerable for any mischief he shall do in it. Human laws punish both, with a justice suitable to their way of knowledge; because in these cases, they cannot distinguish certainly what is real, what counterfeit: and so the ignorance in drunkenness or sleep is not admitted as a plea.
plea. For though punishment be annexed to personality, and personality to consciousness, and the drunkard perhaps be not conscious of what he did; yet human judicatures justly punish him, because the fact is proved against him, but want of consciousness cannot be proved for him. But in the great day, wherein the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open, it may be reasonable to think, no one shall be made to answer for what he knows nothing of; but shall receive bis doom, his conscience accusing or ex
§. 23. Nothing but consciousness can Conscious unite remote existences into the same per
makes self. son, the identity of substance will not do it. For whatever substance there is, however framed, without consciousness there is no person : and a carcase may. be a person, as well as any sort of substance be so without consciousness.
Could we suppose two distinct incommunicable consciousnesses acting the same body, the one constantly by day, the other by night ; and, on the other side, the same consciousness acting by intervals two distinct bodies : I ask in the first case, whether the day and the night man would not be two as distinct persons, as Socrates and Plato ? And whether, in the second case, there would not be one person in two distinct cloathings? Nor is it at all material to say, that this same, and this distinct consciousness, in the cases above mentioned, is owing to the same and distinct immaterial substances, bringing it with them to those bodies; which, whether true or no, alters not the case: since it is evident the personal identity would equally be determined by the consciousness, whether that consciousness