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Introduction

Personal identity is associated with one’s consciousness and this goes hand in hand with the patterns of thinking.  The personal self within which one attaches as identity persists to the levels of consciousness thus it can be equated with memory meaning it can be extended backwards to previous actions or thoughts as long as they are associated to the identity of the specific person. It is by this reasoning that Benjamin Franklin  arrives at the most controversial portion of his theory which suggests that the converse of the previous argument is true thus if one cannot remember some experience, then one did not have that experience. It is therefore worth considering that memory is a condition that is necessary for personal identy. When individuals loose a sense of calling to memory about past events, this means that consiousness is being dirupted and this condition is called forgetfulness. Based on Edward‘s findings, it is therefore necessary to learn that in the memory theory of personal identity, one can conclude that the presence of memory is a condition that is sufficient and necessary for one to understand personal identity(Elton, 1979).

The concept of self  is associated with one’s consciousness and this goes hand in hand with the patterns of thinking.  The personal self within which one attaches as identity persists to the levels of consciousness thus it can be equated with memory meaning it can be extended backwards to previous actions or thoughts as long as they are associated to the identity of the specific person. It is by this reasoning that Edward arrives at the most controversial portion of his theory which suggests that the converse of the previous argument is true thus if one cannot remember some experience, then one did not have that experience. It is therefore worth considering that memory is a condition that is necessary for personal identy. When individuals loose a sense of calling to memory about past events, this means that consiousness is being dirupted and this condition is called forgetfulness.

Notions of Identity

Background: John Locke and the concept of identity

John Locke, an influential philosopher who lived in the late 17th century taught about essential ideas based on how philosophy has developed over time including the concept of personal identity. In the history, Locke notes that God, material substance and consiousness  are the three substances that exist in the world. In addition, the philosopher adds that the manner in which an object is described depends on the substances affiliated to it. It is worth noting that God is considered immaterial, unchanging as well as infinite. On the other hand, material substances are usually viewed as unchanging at their most basic elememnt, known as the atom. In addition, locke argues that material substances are developed into shapes and configurations that pave way for other objects within the reality world. For instance, a certain volume of material substance may be developed to give rise to a chair or even a motor vehicle(Elton, 1979).

On the other hand, the writer argues that regardless of the ever-changing forms of objects in the world, they still exist and perform the same role they are destined to perform. For instance, if someone dragged a chair from one location to another, it will still remain a table and perform the same roles it is meant to. Nevertheless, in the subject of the self and personal identity quite a number of critic points have generated. There are people who argue that the self is simply the mind which does the task of thinking while other people view that the self identity is associated with the body while yet others do not attach any specific attribute to the concept of self.  Based on these critical arguments, Locke supports the viewpoint that the concept of self can be depicted on the basis  of intelligence thinking that has reasoning, reflections as well as one that considers personal identity.

Personal identity is associated with one’s consciousness and this goes hand in hand with the patterns of thinking.  The personal self within which one attaches as identity persists to the levels of consciousness thus it can be equated with memory meaning it can be extended backwards to previous actions or thoughts as long as they are associated to the identity of the specific person. It is by this reasoning that Locke arrives at the most controversial portion of his theory which suggests that the converse of the previous argument is true thus if one cannot remember some experience, then one did not have that experience. It is therefore worth considering that memory is a condition that is necessary for personal identy. When individuals loose a sense of calling to memory about past events, this means that consiousness is being dirupted and this condition is called forgetfulness. Based on Locke’s findings, it is therefore necessary to learn that in the memory theory of personal identity, one can conclude that the presence of memory is a condition that is sufficient and necessary for one to understand personal identity(Elton, 1979).

Jonathan Edwards

Calvinism and the Great Awakening

Calvinism was a system of beliefs that exerted a mixed impact on society. It is worth noting that among the Calvinists, good conduct was encouraged because many people, perhaps unconsciously, wanted to convince themselves that they were among the elect. However, there were negative influences from Calvinism as well. Anxiety was high in these communities as anguished believers contemplated their fates. There also was a rather constant and unpleasant interest in one’s neighbours’ activities. Comfort was found by observing the moral failures of others and concluding that they were no doubt among the damned. Calvinists differed from Roman Catholics in their rejection of papal authority. Calvin came to embrace the idea of a universal priesthood in which believers did not need the daily ministration of priests. Calvin retained only two of the Catholic sacraments: Communion and Baptism.

The Calvinists shared with the Lutherans a dependency on Scripture to discern God’s word, but the nature of that word was the subject of great dispute. Luther had taught that salvation was based on faith and rejected the Calvinistic conception of predestination. The Calvinists insisted on an austere society governed by theocrats as Calvin helped to establish in Geneva while Lutheran communities were more accepting and forgiving. It is worth noting that both the Calvinists and Lutherans would be at odds with later, more emotionally charged Christian sects, in which each group and sometimes each individual would interpret Scripture(Elton, 1979).

The social impact of the Second Great Awakening may be gauged by reviewing several main thrusts of the scholarly literature. The traditional school of thought has tended to portray the period as one marked by widespread secularization and the concomitant efforts of church elites to reestablish order and bring wandering Christians back into the ecclesiastical fold.From this perspective, the Second Great Awakening appears as a process of centripetal reorientation, a reassertion of centralized religious authority, as established churches tried to co-opt Evangelical activism by dressing their old theologies in new clothes.

More recent interpretations of the era have done much to counterbalance this overemphasis on centralization. Edward set out to revise the social control interpretation of the Second Great Awakening by exploring its role in galvanizing the nation's religious culture of insurgent populist preachers and of the tremendous numbers of common people who hearkened to their message. In addition, the writer argues that, “we have ignored the most dynamic and characteristic elements of Christianity during this time: the displacement from power of the religious people of ideas by those who leaned toward popular culture; the powerful centrifugal forces that drove churches apart and gave new significance to local and grass-roots endeavors; and the stark emotionalism, disorder, extremism, and crudeness that accompanied expressions of the faith fed by the passions of ordinary people.“ P. 24

Edward’s understanding of identity/the self

The writer argues that regardless of the ever-changing forms of objects in the world, they still exist and perform the same role they are destined to perform. For instance, if someone dragged a chair from one location to another, it will still remain a table and perform the same roles it is meant to. Nevertheless, in the subject of the self and personal identity quite a number of critic points have generated. There are people who argue that the self is simply the mind which does the task of thinking while other people view that the self identity is associated with the body while yet others do not attach any specific attribute to the concept of self.  Based on these critical arguments, Edward supports the viewpoint that the concept of self can be depicted on the basis  of intelligence thinking that has reasoning, reflections as well as one that considers personal identity.

The concept of self  is associated with one’s consciousness and this goes hand in hand with the patterns of thinking.  The personal self within which one attaches as identity persists to the levels of consciousness thus it can be equated with memory meaning it can be extended backwards to previous actions or thoughts as long as they are associated to the identity of the specific person. It is by this reasoning that Edward arrives at the most controversial portion of his theory which suggests that the converse of the previous argument is true thus if one cannot remember some experience, then one did not have that experience. It is therefore worth considering that memory is a condition that is necessary for personal identy. When individuals loose a sense of calling to memory about past events, this means that consiousness is being dirupted and this condition is called forgetfulness.

Benjamin Franklin

Enlightenment (historical background information)

The Enlightenment. was a period of time when a rational and scientific approach to life, religious, political, and economic issues promoted a secular view of the world. The Enlightenment espoused a world view of natural law and universal order. The leading figures of the Enlightenment agreed on several principles: the supreme faith in rational man, the need to discover and act upon the universal principles of governing humanity, nature, and society. The embodiment of the Enlightenment can be summed up as the quest for knowledge, the activity of the mind which constantly is seeking for the cause behind the effect. The man who belongs to the Enlightenment is unable to witness a phenomenon without seeking to find an explanation, seeks to remedy evil in the world, to find errors and correct them, and overall to understand the nature of the universe through thought and reason.

The Enlightenment describes the period in history when modern though and reason began to exert influence in the world. This period of time, in the 18th century, assumed that human reason and rational thought was the best way to solve the philosophical and social problems of the day. Benjamin Franklin lived and epitomized the qualities and spirit of the Enlightenment. These men attacked economic and social restraints, intolerance, censorship, and spiritual and dogmatic authority.

Franklin’s understanding of identity/the self

The self-concept is the accumulation of knowledge about the self, such as beliefs regarding personality traits, physical characteristics, abilities, values, goals, and roles. Beginning in infancy, children acquire and organize information about them as a way to enable them to understand the relation between the self and their social world. This developmental process is a direct consequence of children's emerging cognitive skills and their social relationships with both family and peers. During early childhood, children's self-concepts are less differentiated and are centered on concrete characteristics, such as physical attributes, possessions, and skills. During middle childhood, the self-concept becomes more integrated and differentiated as the child engages in social comparison and more clearly perceives the self as consisting of internal, psychological characteristics.

Throughout later childhood and adolescence, the self-concept becomes more abstract, complex, and hierarchically organized into cognitive mental representations or self-schemas, which direct the processing of self-relevant information. Benjamin further argues that there are several virtues that guide human self. They include; frugality which means that an individual ought to make no expense but to do well to others, temperance where one east not to dullness and elevation. Nevertheless, industry where the writer argues that one should lose no time but be always employed in something useful.

Improving the Self

Locke argues that improvement to one individual may mean being able to eat every day of the week instead of on only. To another, it could mean achieving a higher salary while to another, rediscovering their spirituality after spending years working flat out to be rich. What is self improvement to one may actually appear as self decline to another. Such is the richness and variety of life that the poor person who only ate five days a week, may be very happy, smile much of the time, and have a supreme spiritual existence on a higher plane than the person seeking a higher salary. In that poor person's grasp is the spirituality that the rich person is now seeking. They may one day by like ships passing in the night in the search for self improvement. Or like people in adjacent elevators, one going down, the other going up.

None of that really matters. What really does matter is how the individual sees his or her self, and what they would perceive as improvement to that self. Next will come the decision to improve. Self improvement cannot come without a decision to do so. Then will come the selection of self improvement techniques to use. Maybe just one technique, but more likely a range of techniques. It could even be that to use one self improvement technique, the user would first benefit from the use of another. For example, relaxation techniques may be needed as a preparation for exploring spirituality. Self improvement is not a rigid and blinkered science. There are many ingredients that can be blended to produce a large variety of self improvement dishes.

Problems with the former self

Edwards

People's identity is rooted in their identifications; in what they associated themselves with. What a person associates him or herself with is ultimately who that person is, for all identity is ultimately in relationship to something else. For instance, an American person identifies himself or herself as "American", for example, and that becomes part of that American person's identity. The same person might identify themselves as male or female, a member of a particular religious group, a brother or sister, a child, an employee, etc. Even more personally, they may identify themselves as a loser, as someone who is helpless to influence the course of their lives, or as someone who needs to hate a particular religious group simply because that is what members of their own religious group are "supposed" to do. Though such personal beliefs may have no basis in reality, they often are taken at face value by the people who hold them. Such people act on their mistaken or irrational beliefs and end up creating problems for themselves.

Franklin (trying to be a morally superior and more successful man)

Identity is something that evolves over time. Young children have simple identities and see things in an overly simple, generally self-serving manner. As people grow older and wiser, they identify themselves with other people, places and things in increasingly sophisticated ways and start to grow out of this initial selfishness. A young child may see her mother as a creature that exists solely to take care of her, but an older child will often start to appreciate that her mother has needs of her own, and start acting less selfishly towards her mother so as to take that knowledge into account.

Sometimes life events interrupt this natural progression from selfishness to thoughtfulness and people's identities stop growing. Such people may be chronologically adults, but relate to others in the selfish manner characteristic of a younger child, creating problems for themselves and the people around them when their selfish expectations clash with those held by people around them, who expect a more adult, more responsive and responsible identity to be present.

Conception of the perfect self

Edwards (God is above all things)

Psychologists state that there are basically three needs in every individual: first,  a need to be loved, a need to belong and  a need to contribute in society and according to Edwards there is a fourth which is more important than the others; the need to know God in a personal way through Jesus Christ. Where love is conditional, where acceptance is dependent on one's performance, and where one's attempts at contributing to society or to the family unit are depreciated or seen as inadequate, then a low self-esteem results. God the Father's acceptance of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ is unconditional. It is based on Jesus Christ's perfect life and upon His sacrifice when He died on Calvary. Accepting Jesus into your life meets the fourth need, and often helps in the other three areas as well since life is given a new meaning and direction. It is all the more important to recall the necessity and the true nature of the interior life, because the true conception of it, as given to us in the Gospel, in the Epistles of St. Paul and in the whole of Tradition, has been partially obscured by many false ideas.

In particular it is evident that the notion of the interior life is radically corrupted in the Lutheran theory of justification or conversion. According to this theory the mortal sins of the convert are not positively blotted out by the infusion of the new life of grace and charity; they are simply covered over, veiled by faith in the Redeemer, and they cease to be imputed to the person who has committed them. There is no intrinsic justification, no interior renewal of the soul; a man is reputed just merely by the extrinsic imputation of the justice of Christ. According to this view, in order to be just in the eyes of God it is not necessary to possess that infused charity by which we love God supernaturally and our fellowmen for God's sake.

Franklin (The mind is above all things)

According to Benjamin Franklin, the disposition of the mind and self must remain completely free and unimpaired, it must go forth from the magic circle of the artist pure and perfect as from the hands of the Creator. The most frivolous subject must be so handled, that individuals remain disposed, to pass over directly from the same to the most severe earnestness. The most earnest material must be so handled, that people retain the capability, to exchange it immediately for the lightest play. And over all these things the mind itself, containing all things, having nothing vacant beyond itself, has left room for no superior mind, such as some people conceive.

The mind itself has included all things in the bosom of perfect greatness and power, it  is always intent upon its own work, and pervading all things, and moving all things, and quickening all things, and beholding all things, and so linking together discordant materials into the concord of all elements, that out of these unlike principles one world is so established by a conspiring union, that it can by no force be dissolved, save when its alone who made it commands it to be dissolved, for the purpose of bestowing other and greater things upon the individual.

Conclusion

The mind can consider any idea as it stands in relation to any other. By observing the similarities and differences, the mind derives further ideas, ideas of relation. For instance, we might compare individual simple ideas of two patches of color and notice that one is of a different size than the other. The people’s ideas of cause and effect, which Locke examines, are produced by noticing that qualities and substances begin to exist and that they receive their existence from the operation of some other being. Locke explains that the ideas of moral relations are produced by comparing our voluntary actions to some law.

It is Locke's third and final category of relational ideas, ideas of identity and diversity that is of great importance to the history of philosophy. It is in the context of this discussion that Locke presents his theory of personal identity, that is, his theory of what makes us the same person over time. According to Locke, remaining the same person has nothing to do with remaining the same substance, either physical or mental. Instead, personal identity has only to do with consciousness: it is by the consciousness of one's present thoughts and actions that the self is conceived, and it is through the continuous link of memory that the self is extended back to past consciousness.

Locke's argument for this claim rests on his idea of identity, which is defined in terms of a comparison between something presently existing and the existence of that thing at an earlier time. This notion of identity stems from the basic principle that no two things of the same kind can exist in the same place at the same time, as well as the extension of this principle that, therefore, no two things can have the same beginning and neither can anything have two beginnings. Things retain their identity, then, as long as they do not become essentially altered because once something is essentially altered, it has a new beginning as a new thing. In other words, identity is retained through continuous history (Elton, 1979).

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