Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 March 2012
This postmodern essay is tinged with remnants of a modern nostalgic hankering to examine whether an attempt to see how things hang together can still succeed. In this self-reflexive journey multiple narratives encrusted with the formal structure of essay writing have been replaced with an attempt at genre splicing. There is a deliberate suspension of judgement and no claim to transcendence. However, this postmodern character in certain places gives way to the modern seeking of patterns of explanation.
In the second half of the twentieth century philosophical discussions were marked by intense debates, involving Russell, Strawson, Searle, Wittgenstein, Kripke, Swinburne, Brody and many others, on the question of identity. The principle questions were: What is identity? Who is a person? What is the epistemic logical status of identity statements? And the responses, with reference to Cartesian, Kantian and Rawlsian theoretical frameworks, range from some philosophers saying that to be a person is to be a body to some maintaining that to be a person is to be a mind with others held that it is a combination of the two. Some argued that a person is a stream of consciousness and some more formally maintained only that to be a person is to be a bearer of M and P predicates. Some other philosophers have argued that a person is an animal with self-awareness and memory, endowed with the capacity to use language.