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James Christ

In the argument of personal identity, there are different ideas that people have
that question what truly makes a person. These ideas range from the person is nothing
more than the body, to the idea that there is an outside spirit that makes up the person
and the body is just a placeholder for it. One short novel that argues the aspects of both
of these ideas is John Perry’s A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. This
dialogue gives different perspectives on what a person really is. Also, it gives the idea
that the brain has a key component of what makes a person truly a person. It is in these
ideas that one seems more right than the other, and the idea that seems more right is
that the person is more than just the body, but there are external forces that make the
person. Without these external forces acting upon the body there would be no actual
In Perry’s A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality, there are two
main characters that argue what happens to the person after death. These two
characters are Reverend Miller and Weirob. Miller speaks to Weirob as she is on her
deathbed, and tries to explain to her that when she dies her soul will move on to another
body or the after life. To this she has an argument that claims that when she dies there
will be no after life as she is nothing more than a body. Miller goes on to argue on that
there is more than the body itself, the mind that one has is in harmony with the soul
which is not part of the body. If the body is to die, which is just seen as a placeholder for
the mind and soul, the person itself will move on as the old body is to decompose.
This point that Miller makes is important as it gives the idea that the body has
nothing to do with what makes a person. Having an external force, such as a soul or a

type of life source, that acts upon the body to make someone a person is an abstract
idea since it is hard to believe that the person you truly know is not just the physical
being you see in front of you. What this exactly means is that a person is not a material
being, but is something much more. Miller makes this argument by making the claim
that he is able to know that he is the same person without checking the sameness of his
body, which means that his person is something more than just his outer self. He then
goes on to claim that when waking up first thing in the morning, he is able to tell that he
is the same person right away without checking himself in the mirror or seeing himself
any other way. This backs up his claim of saying that we are more than a material being
as we can tell who we are and that we did not change before we see ourselves at all.
Weirob goes on to oppose this as she claims that a person is nothing more than
a series of events linked together, and that all we are is a person that is connected by
memories. What she means by a person being linked by memories is that a person is
only the same person if they have the same memories at time two as they did at time
one, all by recollecting what they did at the time and the details surrounding it. This
memory theory then leads to her brain theory which states that we are nothing more
than our brain. Weirob believes that the brain is the main source of what makes a
person as that is what holds all memories and detail of who we really are. Since the
brain is a physical and material being, it is something that goes against Miller’s view of
the person being some non physical being.
The next element of Weirob’s argument is her claim that if her brain was put into
another body, her memories would still be there and therefore she would still be the
same person. The reasoning for this is that when the brain is transferred over with the

same memories from point A to point B, it accounts for the same person, just with
different bodies. This claim once again goes against Miller’s as she opposes his view
with the memory and brain theory. If the brain controls what truly makes a person, and
the brain is a physical aspect of a person, then the person must be something physical
and not some nonphysical being such as a spirit or soul.
While Weirob’s argument is valid and makes many good points to disprove
Miller’s, it can still be seen as false and Miller’s view of a person being a non physical
being is the stronger argument. The reasoning that Weirob’s memory theory can be
seen as false is that if memory is the sole reason for a person to be constituted as the
same person, then there must be an identical person at both point A and point B in time.
What this means is that in order to have the same memory in two point in time, the
same person had to be there for both events. A memory is not something that makes a
person, but it is something that gives a person identity over time. So memory must
presuppose personal identity, not constitute it. This claim would mean that the memory
theory is false.
In conclusion, if the memory theory is the main argument that Weirob has in
defense for Miller’s non physical being claim, and it is false, then Miller’s view must be
right. This means that we are a non physical being that is occupying a body in order to
move and function throughout the world. This can be seen by being able to know you
are one's self without opening your eyes, and being able to know that you are the same
person day in and day out without questioning your own personal identity. However,
Weirob’s memory theory does play a role in personal identity, it just does not constitute

what makes a person. So overall, we are a soul, not a physical being that will end when
we die.