, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 549-566

The Informational Nature of Personal Identity

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Abstract

In this paper, I present an informational approach to the nature of personal identity. In “Plato and the problem of the chariot”, I use Plato’s famous metaphor of the chariot to introduce a specific problem regarding the nature of the self as an informational multiagent system: what keeps the self together as a whole and coherent unity? In “Egology and its two branches” and “Egology as synchronic individualisation”, I outline two branches of the theory of the self: one concerning the individualisation of the self as an entity, the other concerning the identification of such entity. I argue that both presuppose an informational approach, defend the view that the individualisation of the self is logically prior to its identification, and suggest that such individualisation can be provided in informational terms. Hence, in “A reconciling hypothesis: the three membranes model”, I offer an informational individualisation of the self, based on a tripartite model, which can help to solve the problem of the chariot. Once this model of the self is outlined, in “ICTs as technologies of the self” I use it to show how ICTs may be interpreted as technologies of the self. In “The logic of realisation”, I introduce the concept of “realization” (Aristotle’s anagnorisis) and support the rather Spinozian view according to which, from the perspective of informational structural realism, selves are the final stage in the development of informational structures. The final “Conclusion: from the egology to the ecology of the self” briefly concludes the article with a reference to the purposeful shaping of the self, in a shift from egology to ecology.