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same ground a proper evidence of the fact which it ascertains ; I arrive by these means at the most decisive evidence, that the fact of which I was once conscious, and of which consciousness I am now conscious, was done by this self same identical person, who now possesses the present consciousness. The first act of consciousness was in contact with the fact itself, the next act in contact with the foregoing ; and my present act being in contact with that act which next preceded it, preserves the chain of evidence unbroken and entire to the present moment. Nothing, therefore, can either affect or injure the chain of evidence, which thus reaches back through preceding links to the facts in question at any given period, within the reach of recollective duration. And as a transfer of consciousness cannot possibly take place, from one substance to another, without destroying the identity of that consciousness; the identity of that consciousness will prove the identity of the substance in which it inheres, without the possibility of deception; though it can never constitute that identity which it thus unquestionably proves.
That the identity of our bodies does exist, we cannot for a moment doubt. Our own existence will upbraid our incredulity, and force the belief of the fact upon us, in spite of our most obstinate re> sistance. That personal identity and the evidences of it are two distinct ideas, I have already proved in this and the preceding sections, in which I have considered consciousness as the only medium through which past and future can be brought into contact
with one another; and through which present perceptions can be brought into contact with actions that are past and gone. But, though this consciousness of what is past is an unquestionable evidence of the certainty of identity ; yet identity itself
must be a something totally distinct; and can never be constituted by that consciousness, which is only an evidence of it, which necessarily presupposes it, and which, on that account, must derive its origin and constitution from another source.
When we turn our thoughts to the term identity, and view it in its most enlarged and extensive signification; we shall find but few things to which the term will not apply, even though they present us with ideas, which haye little or no connection with one another.
When we speak of the identity of substance, we mean every thing which is included within its essence, abstracted from all its appendages, its configuration, and modes. When we speak of the identity of parts, we mean every identica! atom, included in that union, which at any given period is presumed to engross our thoughts. When we speak of the identity of any particular modification, the same identical arrangement is necessary, in all the modes and situations of the particles which suggested to us the first idea. But, when we speak of the identity of man we not only take into our idea the corporeal parts of his body, but include in that complex term, the union of two distinct substances, and consider them in mysterious contact with one another : and by the removal of either, our complex idea is so far mutilated, that the identity of man is totally destroyed. All therefore that afterwards remains in the mind, is an idea of two distinct substances, now no longer in contact with one another.
In the midst of these distinct applications of the term identity, it is however necessary to distinguish and select, that we may know with precision what that identity is, after which we inquire ; where it is to be found, -in what it consists ;--and what are its most distinguishing marks and properties.
The identity which constitutes the subject of our présent inquiry, is neither the identity of matter nor of spirit; it' is not the identity of parts or of essences. It is not the identity of substance or of modification, nor is it the identity of man., But, the identity after which we inquire is the identity of that particular part of man, which subsists under all the vicissitudes and mutations of human life: which must subsist when the spirit is removed froin its confines ; it is that part which we denominate the human body
General Observations on the Identity of the
THAT the identity of the human body must consist in something which is material, will admit of little or no doubt to a reflecting mind. It would involve a contradiction to suppose the contrary; especially when we consider that the body itself, after the identity of which we inquire, established an idea in our minds, of which the spirit can make no part. The identity of matter must necessarily be constituted by something which is material ; and as the body is formed solely of this substance, the identity of the body must necessarily be material also. These facts arise from the nature of body, and from those ideas which we have of material substances, And, could we even suppose that the identity of the body, which is admitted to be material, could consist in something which is not material, it must be the identity of the body and not the identity of the body at the same time, which is a contradiction.
The question, however, still remains--In what does the identity of the human body consist ?
That it must be material, is a truth which I flatter myself none will presume to deny. But, in whatsoever it consists, we must involve ourselves in contradictions, were we to presume the possibility of its being transferred from one system of atoms to another. There are therefore but two points to be considered; the first is---does the identity of the body consist in the whole of the particles which constitute the body? or secondly, is identity peculiar to some particular part ? These two points seem to be the only ones, which can at present claim an interest in our decision.
When we take a survey of identity, in the abstract; I am ready to allow, that we can form no conception how our idea of it can be annexed to any one part of the human body more than to another ; since the reasonings which can be advanced in favour of the one, will apparently apply with equal force to all. But, when we view this theory in its active and practical consequences; it assumes another aspect, and places another feature on the whole face of things.
We well know, in cases of amputation, that much of the substance of the body may be taken away, without in the least affecting the identity of that body from which that substance was taken. It is true that the removal of any given particle will entirely destroy the identity of the numerical parts, as well as the identity of the modification of them. But the identity of the parts, and the identity of the body, are two distinct ideas. For, while amputation will, and inevitably must destroy the identity of the numerical parts; the identity of the body will remain uninjured and entire, as much so, as though no such amputation had taken place. And hence it will follow, that the whole of our corporeal frames,--that every part and particle of the human body, cannot be necessary to constitute its identity. For, as the identity of the body may, and actually does survive the amputation of many parts ; those amputated parts can only be considered as extraneous matter, or as appendages to that principle of personality in which I shall bereafter presume to place the identity of the body of man.
But, although some parts may be thus separated from the body, without affecting its identity; yet this separation must be partial. There must be some lines and boundaries of demarkation, beyond