Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 791–811 | Cite as

The sense of diachronic personal identity



In this paper, I first consider a famous objection that the standard interpretation of the Lockean account of diachronicity (i.e., one’s sense of personal identity over time) via psychological connectedness falls prey to breaks in one’s personal narrative. I argue that recent case studies show that while this critique may hold with regard to some long-term autobiographical self-knowledge (e.g., episodic memory), it carries less warrant with respect to accounts based on trait-relevant, semantic self-knowledge. The second issue I address concerns the question of diachronicity from the vantage point that there are (at least) two aspects of self—the self of psycho-physical instantiation (what I term the epistemological self) and the self of first person subjectivity (what I term the ontological self; for discussion, see Klein SB, The self and its brain, Social Cognition, 30, 474–518, 2012). Each is held to be a necessary component of selfhood, and, in interaction, they are appear jointly sufficient for a synchronic sense of self (Klein SB, The self and its brain, Social Cognition, 30, 474–518, 2012). As pertains to diachronicity, by contrast, I contend that while the epistemological self, by itself, is precariously situated to do the work required by a coherent theory of personal identity across time, the ontological self may be better positioned to take up the challenge.


Self Identity Diachronicity Memory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUCSBSanta BarbaraUSA

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