Memory and the Sense of Personal Identity

Mind 121 (483):677-702 (2012)
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Abstract

Memory of past episodes provides a sense of personal identity — the sense that I am the same person as someone in the past. We present a neurological case study of a patient who has accurate memories of scenes from his past, but for whom the memories lack the sense of mineness. On the basis of this case study, we propose that the sense of identity derives from two components, one delivering the content of the memory and the other generating the sense of mineness. We argue that this new model of the sense of identity has implications for debates about quasi-memory. In addition, articulating the components of the sense of identity promises to bear on the extent to which this sense of identity provides evidence of personal identity.

Author Profiles

Shaun Nichols
Cornell University
Stanely Bernard Klein
University of California at Santa Barbara

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