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Locke on Personal IdentityConsciousness and Concernment$
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Galen Strawson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161006

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161006.001.0001

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Consciousness Is Not Memory

Consciousness Is Not Memory

(p.72) Chapter Nine Consciousness Is Not Memory
Locke on Personal Identity

Galen Strawson

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that consciousness—Lockean consciousness—is not the same as memory, contrary to what many have assumed. It explains how the primary and paradigm case of consciousness involves no memory at all: it's the consciousness one has of one's own experience and action in the present, the consciousness that's “inseparable from thinking” (that is, experience), “essential to it,” essentially constitutive of it. One can be fully conscious in this fundamental way and have no memory at all, or only a few seconds' worth. Consciousness of past actions and experiences, which involves memory, is just one special case of consciousness. The chapter also considers Marya Schechtman's claim that John Locke uses the word “memory” many times in his discussion of personal identity, but “when he tells us what personal identity consists in, he always talks about extension of consciousness and never about memory connections.”

Keywords:   memory, consciousness, experience, action, thinking, Marya Schechtman, John Locke, personal identity

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