What defines us as people? as individuals?

Names? I don't really think so, I mean even if I change my name, I'm still the same person.

Memories? so if I lose my memory, then I'll become another person?

Beliefs? ..

Edit (To make the question more constructive):

I would like to know different philosophers definition of a person and what aspect of a person they fail to express.

  • 1
    While I think there are several really great questions about the nature of the self or of personhood. The open-ended question "what is a person" doesn't work very well on SE. To make an answer question, you might try reversing what you're doing in the second half. Rather than offering and dismissing several options ask about critiques of the view of a philosopher you think does well or the explanation of a philosopher who is hard to follow.
    – virmaior
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:38
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    This might be a good opportunity to offer a list of the current views. Most seem to be covered by the questions. Eric T. Olson is perhaps the most relevant to the "individuals" question; "names" is relevant to Kripkean rigid desginators; "memories" are relevant to the Lockean view; "beliefs" I think would go to Parfit. @HadiRj – I'd recommend rephrasing the content of your question as suggested by virmaior, and we can re-open it.
    – Ryder
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:49
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    This question shows very little research effort.
    – user2953
    Sep 29, 2015 at 9:51
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    Right now, the idea seems to be list of definitions philosophers have for the term "person". That's still very poor as a fit (though it's better). Can you supplement this by explaining a context (as in some problem where the definition matters, such as abortion, robots, star trek transporter malfunctions). You may want to look at the SEP entry cited in the answer below and then return with a question built on that.
    – virmaior
    Sep 29, 2015 at 9:53
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    Voted to re-open. There are enough "established" philosophical views and documented controversy to make this a worthwhile question.
    – R. Barzell
    Sep 30, 2015 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


If you replace your memory, you change your person.

A simple analogue: If you change the harddisk of your notebook and insert the harddisk of a friend's notebook, do you consider the equipment any longer your tool? Or do you feel completely bewildered, unoriented and unable to continue your work?

Identical twins start with nearly the same memory. But they develop into different persons due to the different experiences stored in their memory.

A different kind of questions is to ask which change of your mental capabilities does change your personality. One knows that severe damages of the frontal cortex may change the personality of the person. A whole range of possibilities exists: The person still considers himself the same person but with some capabilities restricted. At the other end, the person does not know any longer who he is.

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, keyword Personal identity:

What is it to be a person? [...] The most common answer is that to be a person at a time is to have certain special mental properties then.

I take this definition as basis for my answer. All mental properties are embodied in the neuronal connections and theír weights in the neural nets of the brain. They make up the memory, taken in a broad sense.

  • 2
    Stack Exchange is not a network for exchanging opinions, but rather factual information. This answer essentially isn't more than stating your opinion. Please improve this question by providing references to philosophers supporting your theory, or delete your answer. For more information, see this meta post.
    – user2953
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:21
  • @Keelan I consider at least the reference to identical twins an argument. What about you?
    – Jo Wehler
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:23
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    This is just your opinion, it's as good as anyone's. The problem with this question is that it's primarily opinion based, which is why it should be closed and not answered. But if you're going to answer, it should be something of the form "Well, philosopher A would say this because that and that, but philosopher B would say that because so and so." Again, see the meta post I linked to: "answers without sources, references, or citations will be challenged and potentially removed."
    – user2953
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:28
  • Then what can we say about people with dissociative identity disorder? each personality of them has its own set of memories, but still they have one base personality.
    – HadiRj
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:31
  • @HadiRj I assume that a person with dissociative identity disorder alternately has access to different, incompatible parts of his memory.
    – Jo Wehler
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:54

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