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Identity, and any one who thinks that he knows what he

means by his self, may be invited to solve this. To my

mind it seems insoluble, but not because all the

questions asked are essentially such questions as cannot

be answered. The true cause of failure lies in this--

that we will persist in asking questions when we do not

know what they mean, and when their meaning perhaps

presupposes what is false. In inquiries about identity,

as we saw before in Chapter viii., it is all-important

to be sure of the aspect about which you ask. A thing

may be identical or different, according as you look at

it. Hence in personal identity the main point is to fix

the meaning of person; and it is chiefly because our

ideas as to this are confused, that we are unable to

come to a further result.

In the popular view a man's identity resides

mainly in his body. There, before we reflect much, lies the

crucial point. Is the body the same? Has it existed

continuously? If there is no doubt about this, then the

man is the same, and presumably he has preserved his

personal identity, whatever else we like to say has

invaded or infected it. But, of course, as we have seen,

this identity of the body is itself a doubtful problem

(p. 73). And even apart from that, the mere oneness of

the organism must be allowed to be a very crude way of

settling personal sameness. Few of us would venture to

maintain that the self is the body.

Now, if we add the requirement of psychical

continuity, have we advanced much further? For obviously

it is not known, and there seems hardly any way of

deciding, whether the psychical current is without any

break. Apparently, during sleep or otherwise, such

intervals are at least possible; and, if so, continuity,

being doubtful, cannot be used to prove identity. And

further, if our psychical contents can be more or less

transformed, the mere absence of an interval will hardly

be thought enough to guarantee sameness. So far as I can

judge, it is usual, for personal identity, to require

both continuity and qualitative sameness. But how much

of each is wanted, and how the two stand to one another,

--as to this I can find little else but sheer confusion.

Let us examine it more closely.

We should perhaps say that by one self we understand

one experience. And this may either mean one for a

supposed outside observer, or one for the consciousness

of the self in question, the latter kind of unity being

added to or apart from the first kind. And the self is

not one unless within limits its quality is the same.

But we have already seen that if the individual is

simply viewed from outside, it is quite impossible to

find a limit within which change may not come,

and which yet is wide enough to embrace a real self.

Hence, if the test is only sameness for an outside

observer, it seems clear that sometimes a man's life

must have a series of selves. But at what point of

difference, and on what precise principle, that

succession takes place seems not definable. The question