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Bodily Theory and Theory of the Body


What is it about having a body that might dispose us to think it a plausible candidate for the basis of personal identity? The answer seems plain: the body is a physical object which, as long as it exists, is spatio-temporally continuous throughout the different moments of its existence. In consequence, myself of today can be said to be the same person as myself of twelve years ago so far as my body of today is spatio-temporally continuous with my body of twelve years ago. Exponents of this view are not, of course, denying that over time a person's body will or may undergo various changes; rather they are claiming that so long as these changes occur within a body which maintains a spatio-temporal continuity, then the identity of the person whose body it is will be ensured.

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1 There are, of course, other problems with the bodily theory, such as the possibilities of bodily transfer and psychological fission and fusion. These however are not my present concern.

2 An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, second edition (London: Prentice Hall, 1967), pp. 405406.

3 Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, translated by Barnes Hazel (London: Philosophical Library, 1954), p. 329. Further references are included in the text.

4 This paper is a version of part of a doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Edinburgh. I should therefore like to thank the University of Edinburgh and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities and Colleges of the United Kingdom, from whom I received the scholarships that helped to make this research possible.

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
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