The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument

The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument

The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument

The Kinds of Things: A Theory of Personal Identity Based on Transcendental Argument

Synopsis

"What are we? Doepke approaches the riddle of personal identity by way of a general theory of identity, and in so doing he challenges the influential Humean view of identity developed in Parfit's Reasons and Persons." "We normally think of ourselves and the things around us as objects which persist through fairly long stretches of time. Hume, along with Heraclitus and Buddha, denied this degree of permanence. Doepke argues for a view of the self that is more in harmony with both Kant and common sense. With rigorous arguments, The Kinds of Things strongly supports the commonsense belief that, in normal human life, persons persist: even changes in our deeply-held affections and ideals do not erode the basis of our identity." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The main purpose of this book is to provide an account of our identity. It is especially concerned to decide between what John Rawls has called the Humean and the Kantian conceptions of the self. This difference is associated with different ethical orientations. the Kantian view takes seriously our identity over time, just as Kantian ethics takes seriously our responsibility for the things we have done in the past. Derek Parfit has defended the Humean view. This book defends the Kantian one.

I have titled the book “The Kinds of Things” to call attention to its devotion to more general metaphysical issues. Since an account of our identity will apply the concept of identity to ourselves, it is better supported by a theory of how to re-identify things of other kinds as well. a number of books on the subject have already been written on the same conviction. This book differs from most of them in its resolve not to rely on the metaphysics of ordinary thought. We commonly think of the things around us, and ourselves, as objects which persist undiminished through relatively long stretches of time. Hume, however, like Heraclitus and Buddha, denied this degree of permanence; and Hume’s attitude towards persistence is reflected in his view of the self. Since the Humean is not wedded to our common metaphysics, we cannot hope to settle our main issue by a “descriptive” metaphysics which is content merely to lay bare how we ordinarily think of ourselves and other things.

To avoid begging the question against the Humean, we must not merely rely upon, but must defend, the metaphysics of persistence in which the Kantian view finds its home. As I explain in the first chapter, we cannot, therefore, resort to the orthodox “method of cases,” which hopes to gather and systematize our linguistic intuitions concerning identity; these are bound only to reflect, and not to support, our common metaphysics. My alternative is to follow a roughly Kantian strategy . . .

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