The Cartesianism and Anti-Cartesianism of Locke’s Concept of Personal Identity

  • Adam Grzeliński Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland
Keywords: René Descartes, John Locke, personal identity, rationalism, empiricism

Abstract

This article focuses on the relationship between the conceptions of personal identity presented by Descartes and by Locke. Contrary to common readings, I claim that the difference between them cannot be reduced to a simple contrast between rational substantialism and genetic empiricism. Locke does not resign from the substantialist position but delimits the two spheres: natural cognition with its foundation in experience and philosophical speculations, in which he tries to present a rational interpretation of religious dogmas which is consistent with his epistemological programme. Locke’s criticism is directed against the Cartesian notion of a thinking thing as a substance independent of the body and his description of the differentiation of experience and his depiction of human subjectivity is expanded in relation to Cartesian philosophy: personal identity gains explication at four complementary levels: psychological, biological, socio-legal, and religious.

Author Biography

Adam Grzeliński, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland

Adam Grzeliński, PhD, Hab, is a full professor at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, heading the Department of History of Philosophy, Systematic Philosophy and Ethics at the NCU Institute of Philosophy

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Published
2020-06-30
Section
Articles