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