Personal identity

In philosophy, the matter of personal identity[1] deals with such questions as, "What makes it true that a person at one time is the same thing as a person at another time?" or "What kinds of things are we persons?" Generally, personal identity is the unique numerical identity of a person in the course of time.[2][3] That is, the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and a person at another time can be said to be the same person, persisting through time.[a]

In contemporary metaphysics, the matter of personal identity is referred to as the diachronic problem of personal identity.[b][4] The synchronic problem concerns the question of what features and traits characterize a person at a given time. In continental philosophy and in analytic philosophy, enquiry to the nature of Identity is common. Continental philosophy deals with conceptually maintaining identity when confronted by different philosophic propositions, postulates, and presuppositions about the world and its nature.[5][6]

What does it take for a person to persist from moment to moment—for the same person to exist at different moments?


Continuity of substance

Bodily substance

One concept of personal persistence over time is simply to have continuous bodily existence.[7] However, as the Ship of Theseus problem illustrates, even for inanimate objects there are difficulties in determining whether one physical body at one time is the same thing as a physical body at another time. With humans, over time our bodies age and grow, losing and gaining matter, and over sufficient years will not consist of most of the matter they once consisted of. It is thus problematic to ground persistence of personal identity over time in the continuous existence of our bodies. Nevertheless, this approach has its supporters which define humans as a biological organism and asserts the proposition that a psychological relation is not necessary for personal continuity.[c] This personal identity ontology assumes the relational theory[8] of life-sustaining processes instead of bodily continuity.

Derek Parfit's teletransportation problem is designed to bring out intuitions about corporeal continuity. This thought experiment discusses cases in which a person is teleported from Earth to Mars. Ultimately, the inability to specify where on a spectrum does the transmitted person stop being identical to the initial person on Earth appears to show that having a numerically identical physical body is not the criterion for personal identity[9][d]

Mental substance

In another concept of mind, the set of cognitive faculties[e] are considered to consist of an immaterial substance, separate from and independent of the body.[10] If a person is then identified with their mind, rather than their body—if a person is considered to be their mind—and their mind is such a non-physical substance, then personal identity over time may be grounded in the persistence of this non-physical substance, despite the continuous change in the substance of the body it is associated with. The mind-body problem[11][12][13][14] concerns the explanation of the relationship, if any, that exists between minds, or mental processes, and bodily states or processes. One of the aims of philosophers who work in this area is to explain how a non-material mind can influence a material body and vice versa.

However, this is not uncontroversial or unproblematic, and adopting it as a solution raises questions. Perceptual experiences depend on stimuli which arrive at various sensory organs from the external world and these stimuli cause changes in mental states; ultimately causing sensation.[f] A desire for food, for example, will tend to cause a person to move their body in a manner and in a direction to obtain food. The question, then, is how it can be possible for conscious experiences to arise out of an organ (the human brain) possessing electrochemical properties. A related problem is to explain how propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs and desires) can cause neurons of the brain to fire and muscles to contract in the correct manner. These comprise some of the puzzles that have confronted epistemologists and philosophers of mind from at least the time of René Descartes.

Continuity of consciousness

Locke's conception

Locke Essay 1690
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in four books (1690) by John Locke (1632–1704)

John Locke considered personal identity[15] (or the self) to be founded on consciousness (viz. memory), and not on the substance of either the soul or the body. Book II Chapter XXVII entitled "On Identity and Diversity" in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) has been said to be one of the first modern conceptualizations of consciousness as the repeated self-identification of oneself. Through this identification, moral responsibility could be attributed to the subject and punishment and guilt could be justified, as critics such as Nietzsche would point out.

According to Locke, personal identity (the self) "depends on consciousness, not on substance" nor on the soul. We are the same person to the extent that we are conscious of the past and future thoughts and actions in the same way as we are conscious of present thoughts and actions. If consciousness is this "thought" which "goes along with the substance [...] which makes the same person", then personal identity is only founded on the repeated act of consciousness: "This may show us wherein personal identity consists: not in the identity of substance, but [...] in the identity of consciousness". For example, one may claim to be a reincarnation of Plato, therefore having the same soul substance. However, one would be the same person as Plato only if one had the same consciousness of Plato's thoughts and actions that he himself did. Therefore, self-identity is not based on the soul. One soul may have various personalities.

Neither is self-identity founded on the body substance, argues Locke, as the body may change while the person remains the same. Even the identity of animals is not founded on their body: "animal identity is preserved in identity of life, and not of substance", as the body of the animal grows and changes during its life. On the other hand, identity of humans is based on their consciousness.[g]

But this interesting border-case leads to this problematic thought that since personal identity is based on consciousness, and that only oneself can be aware of his consciousness, exterior human judges may never know if they really are judging—and punishing—the same person, or simply the same body. In other words, Locke argues that may be judged only for the acts of the body, as this is what is apparent to all but God; however, are in truth only responsible for the acts for which are conscious. This forms the basis of the insanity defense: one cannot be held accountable for acts from which one was unconscious—and therefore leads to interesting philosophical questions:

personal identity consists [not in the identity of substance] but 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 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.[16]

Or again:

PERSON, as I take it, is the name for this self. Wherever a man finds what he calls himself, there, I think, another may say is the same person. It is a forensic term, appropriating actions and their merit; and so belong only to intelligent agents, capable of a law, and happiness, and misery. This personality extends itself beyond present existence to what is past, only by consciousness,—whereby it becomes concerned and accountable; owns and imputes to itself past actions, just upon the same ground and for the same reason as it does the present. All which is founded in a concern for happiness, the unavoidable concomitant of consciousness; that which is conscious of pleasure and pain, desiring that that self that is conscious should be happy. And therefore whatever past actions it cannot reconcile or APPROPRIATE to that present self by consciousness, it can be no more concerned in it than if they had never been done: and to receive pleasure or pain, i.e. reward or punishment, on the account of any such action, is all one as to be made happy or miserable in its first being, without any demerit at all. For, supposing a MAN punished now for what he had done in another life, whereof he could be made to have no consciousness at all, what difference is there between that punishment and being CREATED miserable? And therefore, conformable to this, the apostle tells us, that, at the great day, when every one shall 'receive according to his doings, the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open.' The sentence shall be justified by the consciousness all person shall have, that THEY THEMSELVES, in what bodies soever they appear, or what substances soever that consciousness adheres to, are the SAME that committed those actions, and deserve that punishment for them.[17]

Henceforth, Locke's conception of personal identity founds it not on the substance or the body, but in the "same continued consciousness", which is also distinct from the soul since the soul may have no consciousness of itself (as in reincarnation). He creates a third term between the soul and the body. For Locke, the body may change, while consciousness remains the same.[18][19] Therefore, personal identity, for Locke, is not in the body but in consciousness.

However, Locke's theory of self reveals[20][h] debt to theology and to apocalyptic "great day",[21][22][23][24] which by advance excuse[i] any failings of human justice and therefore humanity's miserable state.[j] The problem of personal identity is at the center of discussions about life after death and, to a lesser extent, immortality. In order to exist after death, there has to be a person after death who is the same person as the person who died.

Philosophical intuition

Bernard Williams presents a thought experiment appealing to the intuitions about what it is to be the same person in the future.[25] The thought experiment consists of two approaches to the same experiment.

For the first approach Williams suggests that suppose that there is some process by which subjecting two persons to it can result in the two persons have "exchanged" bodies. The process has put into the body of person B the memories, behavioral dispositions, and psychological characteristics of the person who prior to undergoing the process belonged to person A; and conversely with person B. To show this one is to suppose that before undergoing the process person A and B are asked to which resulting person, A-Body-Person or B-Body-Person, they wish to receive a punishment and which a reward. Upon undergoing the process and receiving either the punishment or reward, it appears to that A-Body-Person expresses the memories of choosing who gets which treatment as if that person was person B; conversely with B-Body-Person.

This sort of approach to the thought experiment appears to show that since the person who expresses the psychological characteristics of person A to be person A, then intuition is that psychological continuity is the criterion for personal identity.

The second approach is to suppose that someone is told that one will have memories erased and then one will be tortured. Does one need to be afraid of being tortured? The intuition is that people will be afraid of being tortured, since it will still be one despite not having one's memories. Next, Williams asked one to consider several similar scenarios.[k] Intuition is that in all the scenarios one is to be afraid of being tortured, that it is still one's self despite having one's memories erased and receiving new memories. However, the last scenario is an identical scenario to the one in the first scenario.[l]

In the first approach, intuition is to show that one's psychological continuity is the criterion for personal identity, but in second approach, intuition is that it is one's bodily continuity that is the criterion for personal identity. To resolve this conflict Williams feels one's intuition in the second approach is stronger and if he was given the choice of distributing a punishment and a reward he would want his body-person to receive the reward and the other body-person to receive the punishment, even if that other body-person has his memories.

Psychological continuity

In psychology, personal continuity, also called personal persistence or self-continuity, is the uninterrupted connection concerning a particular person of his or her private life and personality. Personal continuity is the union affecting the facets arising from personality in order to avoid discontinuities from one moment of time to another time.[m][26] Personal continuity is an important part of identity; this is the process of ensuring that the qualities of the mind, such as self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment, are consistent from one moment to the next. Personal continuity is the property of a continuous and connected period of time[27][28] and is intimately related to do with a person's body or physical being in a single four-dimensional continuum.[29] Associationism, a theory of how ideas combine in the mind, allows events or views to be associated with each other in the mind, thus leading to a form of learning. Associations can result from contiguity, similarity, or contrast. Through contiguity, one associates ideas or events that usually happen to occur at the same time. Some of these events form an autobiographical memory in which each is a personal representation of the general or specific events and personal facts.

Ego integrity is the psychological concept of the ego's accumulated assurance of its capacity for order and meaning. Ego identity is the accrued confidence that the inner sameness and continuity prepared in the past are matched by the sameness and continuity of one's meaning for others, as evidenced in the promise of a career. Body and ego control organ expressions.[30][31][32][33][34] and of the other attributes of the dynamics of a physical system to face the emotions of ego death[35][36] in circumstances which can summon, sometimes anti-theonymistic, self-abandonment.[30][37][38][39][40][41]

Identity continuum

It has been argued that from the nature of sensations and ideas there is no such thing as a permanent identity.[42] Daniel Shapiro asserts that one of four major views on identity does not recognize a "permanent identity" and instead thinks of "thoughts without a thinker" − "a consciousness shell with drifting emotions and thoughts but no essence". According to him this view is based on the Buddhist concept of Anatta − "a continuously evolving flow of awareness".[43] Malcolm David Eckel states that "the self changes at every moment and has no permanent identity"[44] − it is a "constant process of changing or becoming", a "fluid ever-changing self".[45]

Bundle theory of the self

A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume
A Treatise Of Human Nature: Being An Attempt To Introduce The Experimental Method Of Reasoning Into Moral Subjects. For John Noon, 1739

David Hume undertook looking at the mind–body problem. Hume also investigated a person's character, the relationship between human and animal nature, and the nature of agency. Hume pointed out that we tend to think that we are the same person we were five years ago. Though we've changed in many respects, the same person appears present as was present then. We might start thinking about which features can be changed without changing the underlying self. Hume, however, denies that there is a distinction between the various features of a person and the mysterious self that supposedly bears those features. When we start introspecting, "we are never intimately conscious of anything but a particular perception; man is a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity and are in perpetual flux and movement".[46]

It is plain that in the course of our thinking, and in the constant revolution of our ideas, our imagination runs easily from one idea to any other that resembles it, and that this quality alone is to the fancy a sufficient bond and association. It is likewise evident that as the senses, in changing their objects, are necessitated to change them regularly, and take them as they lie contiguous to each other, the imagination must by long custom acquire the same method of thinking, and run along the parts of space and time in conceiving its objects.[47]

Note in particular that, in Hume's view, these perceptions do not belong to anything. Hume, similar to the Buddha,[48] compares the soul to a commonwealth, which retains its identity not by virtue of some enduring core substance, but by being composed of many different, related, and yet constantly changing elements. The question of personal identity then becomes a matter of characterizing the loose cohesion[n] of one's personal experience.[o]

In short, what matters for Hume is not that 'identity' exists but that the relations of causation, contiguity, and resemblances obtain among the perceptions. Critics of Hume state in order for the various states and processes of the mind to seem unified, there must be something which perceives their unity, the existence of which would be no less mysterious than a personal identity. Hume solves this by considering substance as engendered by the togetherness of its properties.

No-self theory

The "no-self theory"[p] holds that the self cannot be reduced to a bundle because the concept of a self is incompatible with the idea of a bundle. Propositionally, the idea of a bundle implies the notion of bodily or psychological relations that do not in fact exist. James Giles, a principal exponent of this view, argues that the no-self or eliminativist theory and the bundle or reductionist theory agree about the non-existence of a substantive self. The reductionist theory, according to Giles, mistakenly resurrects the idea[q] of the self[49] in terms of various accounts about psychological relations.[r] The no-self theory, on the other hand, "lets the self lie where it has fallen".[50] This is because the no-self theory rejects all theories of the self, even the bundle theory. On Giles' reading, Hume is actually a no-self theorist and it is a mistake to attribute to him a reductionist view like the bundle theory. Hume's assertion that personal identity is a fiction supports this reading, according to Giles.

The Buddhist view of personal identity is also a no-self theory rather than a reductionist theory, because the Buddha rejects attempts to reconstructions in terms of consciousness, feelings, or the body in notions of an eternal/permanent, unchanging Self[51] since our thoughts, personalities and bodies are never the same from moment to moment.[52]

According to this line of criticism, the sense of self is an evolutionary artifact,[s] which saves time in the circumstances it evolved for. But sense of self breaks down when considering some events such as memory loss,[t] split personality disorder, brain damage, brainwashing, and various thought experiments.[53] When presented with imperfections in the intuitive sense of self and the consequences to this concept which rely on the strict concept of self, a tendency to mend the concept occurs, possibly because of cognitive dissonance.[u]

See also

Abstract object, Nominal identity, Open individualism, Personal life, Self-Schema, Self (philosophy), Self-concept, Identity and change, Mind/brain identity, Ship of Theseus, Narrative identity
Mindstream, Consciousness, Dependent origination, Introspect, Meme, Mnemonic, Percept, Perdurantism, Synchronicity, Noumena, Neuroplasticity (Spike-timing-dependent plasticity), Hebbian theory, Dogen (being and time), process philosophy
Søren Kierkegaard, Philip K. Dick, Daniel Kolak, Gottlob Frege, Derek Parfit, Anthony Quinton, David Wiggins, Sydney Shoemaker, Bernard Williams, Peter van Inwagen, Carl Jung, Erik Erikson, Hugo Münsterberg, Wilhelm Wundt, Paul Ricœur, James Marcia, Mario Rodríguez Cobos
Identity and language learning, Metaphysical necessity, Otium, Personally identifiable information, Personal life, Privacy, immaterialism, Personhood, Gender systems (Social construction of gender difference), The Persistence of Memory (short story), The Persistence of Memory, Transhumanism


  1. ^ or, the essence of a self-conscious person, that which enables the person to be uniquely what him- or herself, and which further persists over time, despite superficial modifications, making him or her same person at different times.
  2. ^ Greek: Διαχρονικός, romanizedDiachronikos
  3. ^ See also: Disjunctive syllogism, Affirming a disjunct, Proof by assertion.
  4. ^ For a discussion of these issues, see the 2013 article by Chris Durante in Philosophy Now, accessible here Archived 2013-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ These faculties enable consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory.
  6. ^ This may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
  7. ^ Take for example a prince's mind which enters the body of a cobbler: to all exterior eyes, the cobbler would remain a cobbler. But to the prince himself, the cobbler would be himself, as he would be conscious of the prince's thoughts and acts, and not those of the cobbler. A prince's consciousness in a cobbler's body: thus the cobbler is, in fact, a prince.
  8. ^ Locke's concept of self being "very remote" from the matters of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and not presumably on The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures nor A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity.
  9. ^ Not to be confused with rationalization (making excuses).
  10. ^ Or, the human conditions of unhappiness, suffering, and/or pain.
  11. ^ The synoptical collage of an event or series of actions and events are:
    • One has memories erased, and are given new "fake" memories (counterfeit), and then one is to be tortured;
    • have one's memories erased, are given copies of another's memories, and then are to be tortured;
    • have one's memories erased, are given another's genuine memories, and then one is to be tortured;
    • have one's memories erased, are given another's genuine memories, that person is given one's memories, and then one is to be tortured.
  12. ^ With the supposed superfluous information included in the last scenario.
  13. ^ For more, see: consciousness.
  14. ^ See also: structural cohesion
  15. ^ In the Appendix to the Treatise, Hume stated that he was dissatisfied with his account of the self, yet he never returned to the issue.
  16. ^ See also: Nihilism, Post-left anarchy theory of self
    Not to be confused with Anatta.
  17. ^ And, presumably, resurrection.
  18. ^ See also: Psychological entropy.
  19. ^ See also: Phenotypic traits, Society (Social artifact), Culture (Cultural artifact), evolutionary psychology (criticism of evolutionary psychology).
  20. ^ See also: Alzheimer
  21. ^ Though, this does not address the loose cohesion of self and other similar epistemological views.


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  2. ^ Personal Identity (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  3. ^ Identity (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  4. ^ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Volumes 1–3. By John Locke
  5. ^ Self and Subjectivity; "Identity, Sex, and the Metaphysics of Substance". Edited by Kim Atkins. p257.
  6. ^ Cultural Theory: An Anthology. Edited by Imre Szeman, Timothy Kaposy. p481. "Identity, Sex, and the Metaphysics of Substance"
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  8. ^ What Are We? : A Study in Personal Ontology: A Study in Personal Ontology. By Eric T. Olson Professor in Philosophy University of Sheffield
  9. ^ Chris Durante, A Philosophical Identity Crisis Archived 2013-08-06 at the Wayback Machine | Issue 97 | Philosophy Now
  10. ^ The Christian Library, Volumes 3-4. By Jonathan Going. 1835. p786+. (cf., p803 "Now all would believe in the separate existence of the soul if they had experience of its existing apart from the body. But the facts referred to proves that it does exist apart from one body with which it once was united, and though it is in union with another, yet as it is not adherent to the same, it is shown to have an existence separate from, and independent of that body.")
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  22. ^ The great day; notes on the book of Revelation. By Rev. Thomas Graham.
  23. ^ The Great Day of the Lord. By Alexander Brown. Elliot Stock, 1894.
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  26. ^ Identity and self-image Archived 2013-08-27 at the Wayback Machine. Mar 2009.
  27. ^ A Treatise of Human Nature. VII., Of contiguity and distance in space and time. 427+432. By David Hume.
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  34. ^ The Book of the Law, or Liber AL vel Legis. By Aleister Crowley, Aiwass
  35. ^ Managing Vulnerability: The Underlying Dynamics of Systems of Care. By Tim Dartington.
  36. ^ Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multidimensional Perspective. By José B. Ashford, Craig Winston LeCroy, Kathy L. Lortie
  37. ^ Abandonment to Divine Providence. By Jean-Pierre De Caussade
  38. ^ The Principles of Psychology, Volume 1. By William James
  39. ^ The Loss of Self. By Donna Cohen, Carl Eisdorfer.
  40. ^ The Legacy of Abandonment In Borderline Personality Disorder. By A. J Mahar.
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  • W Greve, K Rothermund, D Wentura, The Adaptive Self: Personal Continuity and Intentional Self-development. 2005.
  • J Habermas, The paradigm shift in Mead. In M. Aboulafia (Ed.), Philosophy, social theory, and the thought of George Herbert Mead 1991. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  • GF Hellden, Personal Context and Continuity of Human Thought: Recurrent Themes in a Longitudinal Study of Students' Conceptions.
  • J Jacobson, Islam in Transition: Religion and Identity Among British Pakistani Youth. Routledge, 1998. 177 pages. ISBN 0-415-17085-0
  • M Kapstein, (Review) Collins, Parfit, and the Problem of Personal Identity in Two Philosophical Traditions. Philosophy East and West, 1986.
  • Christine M. Korsgaard, Personal Identity and the Unity of Agency: A Kantian Response to Parfit. Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Spring, 1989), pp. 101-132.
  • JC LaVoie, Ego identity formation in middle adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 1976.
  • Michael Metzeltin, Wege zur Europäischen Identität. Individuelle, nationalstaatliche und supranationale Identitätskonstrukte, Berlin, Frank & Timme, 2010. 285 pages. ISBN 978-3-86596-297-3
  • D Mohr, Development of attributes of personal identity. Developmental Psychology, 1978.
  • Parfit, Derek (1971). "Personal identity". Philosophical Review. 80 (1): 3–27. doi:10.2307/2184309. JSTOR 2184309.
  • R W Perrett, C Barton, Personal Identity, Reductionism and the Necessity of Origins. Erkenntnis, 1999.
  • P. Ricoeur, Soi-même comme un autre, 1990. Paris:Seuil. (en: Oneself as another)
  • Robinson, John (1988). "Personal identity and survival". Journal of Philosophy. 85 (6): 319–328. doi:10.2307/2026722. JSTOR 2026722.
  • B Romero, Self-maintenance therapy in Alzheimer's disease. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 2001.
  • BM Ross, Remembering the Personal Past: Descriptions of Autobiographical Memory. Oxford University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-506894-7
  • S Seligman, RS Shanok, Subjectivity, Complexity and the Social World. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 1995.
  • JM Shorter, More About Bodily Continuity and Personal Identity. Analysis, 1962.
  • J Sully, Illusions: A Psychological Study. Appleton, 1881. 372 pages.
  • DG Thompson, The Religious Sentiments of the Human Mind. 1888.
  • Michel Weber, "Process and Individuality" in Maria Pachalska and Michel Weber (eds.), Neuropsychology and Philosophy of Mind in Process. Essays in Honor of Jason W. Brown, Frankfurt / Lancaster, Ontos Verlag, 2008, pp. 401-415.
  • Bernard Williams, Bodily Continuity and Personal Identity. Analysis, 1960.
  • Bernard Williams, The Self and the Future, in Philosophical Review 79, 1970.

Online articles

  • Teaching material on personal identity, self, and applied ethics [1]

External links


Anonymous may refer to:

Anonymity, the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown

Anonymous work, a work of art or literature that has an unnamed or unknown creator or author

Christine Korsgaard

Christine Marion Korsgaard, (; born April 9, 1952) is an American philosopher and Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University whose main scholarly interests are in moral philosophy and its history; the relation of issues in moral philosophy to issues in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the theory of personal identity; the theory of personal relationships; and in normativity in general.


In medicine, confusion is the quality or state of being bewildered or unclear. The term "acute mental confusion" is often used interchangeably with delirium in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems and the Medical Subject Headings publications to describe the pathology. These refer to the loss of orientation, or the ability to place oneself correctly in the world by time, location and personal identity. Mental confusion is sometimes accompanied by disordered consciousness (the loss of linear thinking) and memory loss (the ability to correctly recall previous events or learn new material). The term is from Latin confusĭo, -ōnis, from confundere: "to pour together;" "to mingle together;" "to confuse".

Derek Parfit

Derek Antony Parfit, FBA (; 11 December 1942 – 1 January 2017) was a British philosopher who specialised in personal identity, rationality, and ethics. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential moral philosophers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.Parfit rose to prominence in 1971 with the publication of his first paper, "Personal Identity". His first book, Reasons and Persons (1984), has been described as the most significant work of moral philosophy since the 1800s. His second book, On What Matters (2011), was widely circulated and discussed for many years before its publication.

For his entire academic career, Parfit worked at Oxford University, where he was an Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College at the time of his death. He was also a visiting professor of philosophy at Harvard University, New York University, and Rutgers University. He was awarded 2014 Rolf Schock Prize "for his groundbreaking contributions concerning personal identity, regard for future generations, and analysis of the structure of moral theories."

Fugue state

Dissociative fugue, formerly fugue state or psychogenic fugue, is a dissociative disorder and a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state can last days, months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity. It is a facet of dissociative amnesia, according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

After recovery from a fugue state, previous memories usually return intact, and further treatment is unnecessary. Additionally, an episode of fugue is not characterized as attributable to a psychiatric disorder if it can be related to the ingestion of psychotropic substances, to physical trauma, to a general medical condition, or to dissociative identity disorder, delirium, or dementia. Fugues are precipitated by a series of long-term traumatic episodes. It is most commonly associated with childhood victims of sexual abuse who learn over time to dissociate memory of the abuse (dissociative amnesia).

Identity (philosophy)

In philosophy, identity, from Latin: identitas ("sameness"), is the relation each thing bears only to itself. The notion of identity gives rise to many philosophical problems, including the identity of indiscernibles (if x and y share all their properties, are they one and the same thing?), and questions about change and personal identity over time (what has to be the case for a person x at one time and a person y at a later time to be one and the same person?).

The philosophical concept of identity is distinct from the more well-known notion of identity in use in psychology and the social sciences. The philosophical concept concerns a relation, specifically, a relation that x and y stand in if, and only if they are one and the same thing, or identical to each other (i.e. if, and only if x = y). The sociological notion of identity, by contrast, has to do with a person's self-conception, social presentation, and more generally, the aspects of a person that make them unique, or qualitatively different from others (e.g. cultural identity, gender identity, national identity, online identity and processes of identity formation).

Joseph Butler

Joseph Butler (18 May 1692 – 16 June 1752) was an English bishop, theologian, apologist, and philosopher. He was born in Wantage in the English county of Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). He is known, among other things, for his critique of Deism, Thomas Hobbes's egoism, and John Locke's theory of personal identity. Butler influenced many philosophers and religious thinkers, including David Hume, Thomas Reid, Adam Smith, Henry Sidgwick, John Henry Newman, and C. D. Broad, and is widely considered "as one of the preeminent English moralists." He also played an important, though under appreciated, role in the development of eighteenth-century economic discourse, greatly influencing the Dean of Gloucester and political economist Josiah Tucker.

Lithuanian identity card

Lithuanian Personal Identity Card is officially recognised identity document issued to Lithuanian citizens.

Outline of self

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the self:

Self – an individual person, from his or her own perspective. To you, self is you. To a different person, self is that person. One's self is a subject of philosophy; psychology and developmental psychology; religion and spirituality; social science and neuroscience.


A person is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility. The defining features of personhood and consequently what makes a person count as a person differ widely among cultures and contexts.

In addition to the question of personhood, of what makes a being count as a person to begin with, there are further questions about personal identity and self: both about what makes any particular person that particular person instead of another, and about what makes a person at one time the same person as they were or will be at another time despite any intervening changes.

The common plural of "person", "people", is often used to refer to an entire nation or ethnic group (as in "a people"). The plural "persons" is often used in philosophical and legal writing.

Personal identity number (Sweden)

The personal identity number (Swedish: personnummer) is the Swedish national identification number. It is a ten or twelve digit number that is widely used in Sweden to identify individuals.

Philosophy of self

The philosophy of self defines, among other things, the conditions of identity that make one subject of experience distinct from all others. Contemporary discussions on the nature of the self are not thereby discussions on the nature of personhood, or personal identity. The self is sometimes understood as a unified being essentially connected to consciousness, awareness, and agency (or, at least, with the faculty of rational choice). Various theories on the metaphysical nature of the self have been proposed. Among them, the metaphysical nature of the self has been proposed to be that of an immaterial substance.

Psychogenic amnesia

Psychogenic amnesia or dissociative amnesia, is a memory disorder characterized by sudden retrograde episodic memory loss, said to occur for a period of time ranging from hours to years. More recently, "dissociative amnesia" has been defined as a dissociative disorder "characterized by retrospectively reported memory gaps. These gaps involve an inability to recall personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature." In a change from the DSM-IV to the DSM-5, dissociative fugue is now subsumed under dissociative amnesia.The atypical clinical syndrome of the memory disorder (as opposed to organic amnesia) is that a person with psychogenic amnesia is profoundly unable to remember personal information about themselves; there is a lack of conscious self-knowledge which affects even simple self-knowledge, such as who they are. Psychogenic amnesia is distinguished from organic amnesia in that it is supposed to result from a nonorganic cause; no structural brain damage or brain lesion should be evident but some form of psychological stress should precipitate the amnesia, however psychogenic amnesia as a memory disorder is controversial.

Reasons and Persons

Reasons and Persons is a 1984 philosophical work by Derek Parfit, in which the author discusses ethics, rationality and personal identity.

It is divided into four parts, dedicated to self-defeating theories, rationality and time, personal identity and responsibility toward future generations.

Russian Business Network

The Russian Business Network (commonly abbreviated as RBN) is a multi-faceted cybercrime organization, specializing in and in some cases monopolizing personal identity theft for resale. It is the originator of MPack and an alleged operator of the now defunct Storm botnet.The RBN, which is notorious for its hosting of illegal and dubious businesses, originated as an Internet service provider for child pornography, phishing, spam, and malware distribution physically based in St. Petersburg, Russia. By 2007, it developed partner and affiliate marketing techniques in many countries to provide a method for organized crime to target victims internationally.


The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. This reference is necessarily subjective, thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. The sense of having a self—or self-hood—should, however, not be confused with subjectivity itself. Ostensibly, there is a directness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its 'self' (or itself). Examples of psychiatric conditions where such 'sameness' is broken include depersonalization, which sometimes occur in schizophrenia: the self appears different to the subject.

The first-person perspective distinguishes self-hood from personal identity. Whereas "identity" is sameness, self-hood implies a first-person perspective. Conversely, we use "person" as a third-person reference. Personal identity can be impaired in late stage Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, the self is distinguishable from "others". Including the distinction between sameness and otherness, the self versus other is a research topic in contemporary philosophy) and contemporary phenomenology (see also psychological phenomenology), psychology, psychiatry, neurology, and neuroscience.

Although subjective experience is central to self-hood, the privacy of this experience is only one of many problems in the philosophical and scientific study of consciousness.

Trojan horse (computing)

In computing, a Trojan horse, or Trojan, is any malware which misleads users of its true intent. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive wooden horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy.Trojans are generally spread by some form of social engineering, for example where a user is duped into executing an e-mail attachment disguised to appear not suspicious, (e.g., a routine form to be filled in), or by clicking on some fake advertisement on social media or anywhere else. Although their payload can be anything, many modern forms act as a backdoor, contacting a controller which can then have unauthorized access to the affected computer. Trojans may allow an attacker to access users' personal information such as banking information, passwords, or personal identity. It can also delete a user's files or infect other devices connected to the network. Ransomware attacks are often carried out using a Trojan.

Unlike computer viruses and worms, Trojans generally do not attempt to inject themselves into other files or otherwise propagate themselves.

Virtual private network

A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on a computing device, e.g. a laptop, desktop, smartphone, across a VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is a common though not an inherent part of a VPN connection.VPN technology was developed to allow remote users and branch offices to access corporate applications and resources. To ensure security, the private network connection is established using an encrypted layered tunneling protocol and VPN users use authentication methods, including passwords or certificates, to gain access to the VPN. In other applications, Internet users may secure their transactions with a VPN, to circumvent geo-restrictions and censorship, or to connect to proxy servers to protect personal identity and location to stay anonymous on the Internet. However, some websites block access to known VPN technology to prevent the circumvention of their geo-restrictions, and many VPN providers have been developing strategies to get around these roadblocks.

A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated circuits or with tunneling protocols over existing networks. A VPN available from the public Internet can provide some of the benefits of a wide area network (WAN). From a user perspective, the resources available within the private network can be accessed remotely.

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