Philosophy | Topics in Philosophy
P370 | 25144 | Senchuk


Topic: PERSONAL IDENTITY AND SURVIVAL

"So I must be on my guard against carelessly taking something else
to be this I, and so making a mistake in the very item of knowledge
that I maintain is the most certain and evident of all."  --Descartes

Suppose, as food for thought, that the proverbial Djin offers to
grant you, a prisoner condemned to death, a single wish.  When you
request eternal life after death, the Djin asks you to be more
specific, to tell him just what sort of postmortem survival would
satisfy you.   This Djin is not out to trick you, not determined,
say, to increase your suffering; but he is somewhat literal-minded,
so be very careful what you wish for.  If you make the sort of
mistake Descartes feared making, then something else, something
other than you, may survive.

This course will bracket historical and contemporary philosophical
concerns about personal identity with variously worrisome,
fascinating and fantastic or all too quotidian concerns about
possibilities of, prospects for, personal survival.   Thus, when I
awake from dreamless sleep, what reason is there to suppose that I
am the same person who fell asleep last night?


(This course satisfies the Metaphysics and Epistemology area
requirement for Philosophy majors.)