Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


The problem of personal identity has been an ongoing debate in the history of philosophy for thousands of years. This thesis examines personal identity from a variety of philosophical approaches. I begin with the historical assumption made by Descartes and Locke that people have a 'self' because they have successive consciousness over time. I argue that no 'self' exists as a coherent entity because consciousness, which makes up the self, exists as separate pieces. By exploring the weakness of defining the self as consciousness, I argue that society is the efficient cause and final cause of personal identity. By studying different definitions of personal identity through Marx, Nietzsche, and Foucault, I examine how society influences and determines who we are. Further, I examine different people's identities living in different societies. Examining Confucianism, Communitarianism, Liberal Individualism, and Gender Construction, I discuss their similarities in setting up guidelines and expectations for people. I believe social values and expectations play a substantial role in constructing personal identity.

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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