One of the most discussed of current topics in Philosophy of Mind is the problem of personal identity - the problem of what, if any thing, makes a later person the same person as an earlier person. The book is a rare attempt to analyse the problem in its various aspects and develop a theory by way of answering the questions involved. It divides itself into three parts dealings with (1) the nature and source of the problem; (2) how it has been approached by various philosophers, traditional and contemporary; and (3) what a proper analysis of it will amount to.The theory that eventually issues out of this analysis is that bodily continuity is the primary criterion of personal identity and the claim of memory as the sole, or even primary, criterion is definitively disallowed. The ideas of disembodied existence and survival, which imply and rest upon the primacy of the memory criterion, are shown to be what they are, i.e., intelligible only in a secondary sense.
Of special interest to philosophers is the finding that the problem at issue is a problem of criterion and not of defining personal identity and also an interesting and original trichotomy between definition, criterion and necessary condition.
P.K. Mohapatra got his PhD from the University of Keele, England where he worked as a Commonwealth Scholar during 1974-77 and had been to the United States as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in 1989. A specialist in `Philosophy of Mind' and 'Philosophy of Values', he has authored two books, entitled Personal Identity and Concepts and Problems, edited five books and published a number of articles. He has been the President of the Metaphysics Section of the Indian Philosophy Congress in 1983 and also the General President of the All Orissa Philosophy Association in 1998.
Currently, Dr. Mohapatra is the senior-most Professor of Philosophy at Utkal University and the General Editor of Utkal Studies in Philosophyseries.
What makes a person P2 at a time t2 the same person as a person P1 at an earlier time t1 and what evidence can we have that such persons are the same? These questions of personal identity are old and difficult questions, and questions which are the subject of much modern philosophical writing. Dr. Mohapatra gives a thorough survey of the philosophical literature, and a firm defense of his own theory that bodily identity is the primary criterion of personal identity. His book is developed from his PhD thesis which I was privileged to supervise. We argued a lot about the issues over several years. I am glad that the theory which he eventually developed is now to reach a wider audience.
THE topic this book deals with is one of the most controversial of current issues in Philosophy of Mind. But though many articles and discussions have appeared in the field, very few books in this title have been written. This difficult experience during my research in England largely prompted me to put this work in print.
Among the many philosophers whose writings have influenced me and helped me to formulate the arguments of this essay are particularly Sydney Shoemaker, David Wiggins and Bernard Williams. Despite my qualified disagreements with their contentions, their original and stimulating works have supplied much of the elements of my own view on personal identity that is being presented.
One single philosopher whose writings on the topic have helped me to see the present problem in its right light is Professor R.G. Swinburne. Beside this, I am also grateful to him for his constant, hardworking and helpful supervision of my research at Keele without which the present work could not have taken shape. I am, however, entirely responsible for whatever errors and inadequacies might be contained herein. I am also grateful to Dr. Brain Smart of Keele Philosophy Department through his writings and also through personal discussions with him on the topic. Dr. Smart and late Professor J.L. Mackie of Oxford deserve my special gratitude for their constructive criticisms and valuable suggestions.
I am obliged to the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission in the United Kingdom for the grant that enabled me to go and work in England and also to the authorities of the TJtkal University for granting me the necessary study leave.
Some of the well-wishers whose blessings and good wishes have engaged me in academic pursuits are my respected teachers Dr. G. Misra, Professor S.K. Chattopadhyay, Dr. S. Misra and Dr. G.C. Nayak. The personal encouragements of Professor Nayak and of my friends Dr. S.K. Mohanty and Dr. R.C. Pradhan have acted as catalyst in putting the book in print. The cheerful assistance and personal involvement of my friendly student Dr. S.C. Panigrahi has played a vital role in the publication of its first edition. To all of them I owe my special debt of gratitute.
My wife, Dipti, deserves my personal gratitude for being very understanding and a source of solace during my difficult days in England.
I am thankful to Shri Rajendra Agarwal of Decent Books, New Delhi for being a very willing and wonderful publisher of this edition.
I must thank the many readers who understood and appreciated the book. It is the wish and interest of some of them which led to the present edition.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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