Personal identity, Kindness and Meaning of Life

Human beings struggle to define themselves in order to identify their true identity. Moreover, no one essay about identity can give a final response to this question. The question of what makes some individuals what they are is a philosophical concept that has elicited varying responses from scholars. Such questions as “what makes a person” and “what makes a non-person” are central in the quest to understand personal identity. Additionally, personal identity dwells on the question of persistence. It is an ontological concept where philosophers question what makes something exist over time and what makes another absent. What makes some persons to say that they exist? What brings existence of people to an end? Essentially, the question emerges because of human beings’ fear of death. Some philosophers ask why someone dies while others continue to exist. Also, the theories of personal identity revolve around the issue of evidence. What proof demonstrates that a person standing before you is the same one you saw yesterday? How reliable is memory to an extent that we can trust it as a source of knowledge? Researchers argue that there can be doubt since one can lose memory and have new ideas. Ideally, the theories lead to self-contradiction between physical and psychological facts. Yet, there is a need for physical and mental truths in life.

Buddhism philosophy talks about life and human beings in specific way. There three noble truths include: dukkha, the dukkha arising, and the dukkha cessation (Nirodha) that illustrate the orientation of Buddhism. Dukkha means the inability to satisfy and the pain that accompanies it since human beings desire temporary things and states. It follows that the religion guides people to know the sources of pain and avoid them in order to live a happy life. People should avoid cravings, greed and delusion in order to become happy. The dukkha arising is a samsara which means the vicious repetition of birth dukkha as well as dying again. That is, those who believe and avoid pain and evil ways have a chance of rebirth that assures them of continued existence.  It leads to renewed existence that compels human beings to be reborn. Nirodha is eradication of mental afflictions from the senses. Believers explain that the dependence on the sense organs lead problems. However, according to the faith, one can avoid cessation by living a righteous life. The three truths offer a framework for understanding Buddhism.

No-self, otherwise known as anatta is a doctrine that argues that being is permanent while independent self is illusive. Buddha discouraged all his followers against self-speculation. He warned them against asking questions such as Am I and Am I not because it leads to wrong perceptions including: I have self, I have no self, I recognize self by means of self, I don’t recognize self by means of a self, I understand self through a not self, and the knowing self of mine is eternal. According to Buddha, asking such questions of self is an intellectual speculation and a wrong way of acquiring knowledge. Significantly, anatta dwells on the teachings based on the second truth of nobility. That is, because of the belief in unchanging self and permanent self, human beings have a tendency of clinging into hate, greed and jealousy that generate unhappiness.

According to John Locke, human beings have ignorance of substances. He claims that the body can give rise to pain and pleasure more than that which the soul, in its immaterial nature can feel following as a result of certain motions in the body. Accordingly, the creator of beings that has lead to the existence of self, will restore beings into another state of sensibility in a different world and subject them to designed punishment based on the actions in the present life. Hence one should strive to live a life worthy enough to avoid retribution in future by living in accordance with the immateriality of the soul.

Notably, Locke’s idea of personal identity states that living things are individuated through functional organizations. The philosopher believes in the continuity of organizations of functionality and therefore, the same life persists for eternity. That is, the sameness of a horse or a oak or any other living thing. However, Locke explains that human beings are not settled due to competing definitions such as the difference between man and a person. He indicates that man refers to a living body whose possession of a soul validates the sameness of man to old age. Hence, he says that if reincarnation is a doctrine that human beings should believe, then it means a person can be reborn a hog. Consequently, according to Locke, it is possible to look at a hog and call it a man.

At the same time, Locke controversially distinguishes between a man and a person where he indicates that a link between the soul and the thing can demonstrate the difference. He explains that a person is conscious and that the aspect is what gives him identity. He says that consciousness is transferable from one substance to another. The same soul, the philosopher suggests that same soul is not necessary or enough for personal identity. What the philosopher does is that he dismisses the essence of thinking as a definition of a personal identity by other thinkers. He claims that there are times when the thinking self is not active, for example, when one has fallen asleep.

Debatably, the doctrine of non self is contradictory because it does not correspond with reality. There is a difference between a man and a person in that the latter is a conscious being. It is a being beyond the component of sensory organs or rather the physical form. It is what many philosophers claim that it gives essence to life. According to the Buddhists, the non-self is somehow contradictory because it seeks to separate two related entities: the conscious self and the human body.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *