In this assignment, you will be asked to show that you can summarize and then compare two different philosophers’ ideas on the self. The issue of how we understand what the self is, and how it relates to our memory or our physical body and brain, is a recurring issue in philosophy.

This assignment supports the following unit objectives:

  • Compare and contrast a soul-based theory of the self (as illustrated by Descartes) with a psychological-based theory of the self (like that of Locke) and a skeptical view of the self (like that of Hume).
  • Articulate how memory relates to our definition of the self.
  • Articulate the identity theory of Locke.
  • Explain the connection between personhood and “consciousness” as articulated by Locke.
  • Compare Descartes and Locke’s views on personhood and guilt.


Choose any two of the philosophers that we read in Unit 2. Recap each philosopher’s main view about consciousness/the self/personal identity. Explain at least one difference between the two philosophers’ views and state which view you prefer. Then, offer an argument (i.e., evidence) against the view that you reject.

  • Start with making a careful summary of two of the philosophers we read in Unit 2. What were their main concepts and definitions, what were their distinctions? How did they imagine that the self was different from the brain or different from the mind? Restate their theory and include “direct quotes”, specific references from their work.
  • Explain carefully how these views compare and contrast. Be sure to identify and explain at least one difference between the philosophers’ views. How do they define a key concept or make a major distinction differently?
  • State which view you prefer.
  • Offer an argument against the view that you reject.