“All is Revolution in Us”: Personal Identity in Eighteenth-Century British Philosophy


ACLS Fellowship Program




This is a study of the problem of personal identity in eighteenth-century British philosophy. The problem, first formulated by Locke, is to explain what makes a person the same through time. The problem is metaphysical, but Locke's motivation for exploring it was ethical: he was seeking a solution that would support ascriptions of moral responsibility and allow for belief in immortality. Many of those who followed him shared his ethical and religious preoccupations. The project examines three especially important attempts to address the problem: those of Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hume. It also considers the present-day relevance of the eighteenth-century debate.