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					                   A2 Philosophy of Religion – Module 3: Body, Soul and Personal Identity

We have so far looked at how dualists, such as Plato and Aquinas, argue for life after death. However,
not all materialists accept that death is the end: instead, some believe that there is life after death. As
the physical body cannot be separated from the ‗soul‘ (mind), how can this be possible?

The answer is through the resurrection of the body. We will look at two philosophical justifications for
resurrection from John Hick and John Locke.


  There are a number of passages in the Bible relating to what kind of body we will have in the afterlife.
  These point towards bodily perfection – no hunger, thirst, death, or sickness; a pure language, etc.

  Below are included a few of these passages, though for further reference go to
  and look up: Isaiah. 1:25, 4:4, 33:24, 35:5–6, 49:10, 65:20–24, Jeremiah. 31:12–13, Ezekiel. 34:29,
  36:29–30, Micah 4:6–7, Zephaniah. 3:9–19, Matt 13:43

1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a
spiritual body.

Isaiah 1:25
    I will turn My hand against you,
    And thoroughly purge away your dross,
    And take away all your alloy.

Isaiah 33:24
    And the inhabitant will not say, ―I am sick‖;
    The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.

Isaiah 35:5-6
   Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
   Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    And the tongue of the dumb sing.
    For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness,
    And streams in the desert

Isaiah 49:10
    They shall neither hunger nor thirst,
    Neither heat nor sun shall strike them;                                    Link to ICONS – remember, icons
    For He who has mercy on them will lead them,                               depict religious subjects in their
    Even by the springs of water He will guide them.                           divine form as heavenly archetypes,
                                                                               or ‗originals‘, NOT their human forms.
Isaiah 65:20                                                                   Hence the unreal texture and shapes
20                                                                             used to depict them.
   ― No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
     Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
     For the child shall die one hundred years old,
     But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed

Q. What issues arise from the descriptions of bodily resurrection as described in these passages?

The problems of personal identity within this idea of bodily resurrection:

If, for a materialist, survival must include both body and soul, then life after death would have to be in a form similar
to life in this world. It would have to be possible to recognise the resurrected person as the same individual that he
or she was before death. Any other form would mean that the personal identity (the ‗I‘) of the individual had not
survived death.

The central issue of debate concerning resurrection in this module is that of PERSONAL IDENTITY.

We now look at how HICK and LOCKE offer different solutions to the problem of personal identity in

Hick is a materialist in the sense that he believes in the psychosomatic unity of mind (psyche) and body
(soma). He argued that, given certain circumstances, it would be possible that the dead could exist after
death as themselves, if:
o an exact replica of them were to appear.
o This replica could be identified as being the same person who had died, and therefore, according to
    Hick, would be the same person.
o God is all-powerful and therefore it is no problem for God to create a replica body of the dead person.
o This replica will be complete with all the individual‘s memories and characteristics.

Hick considered that although death destroys us, God would re-create us:
o ‘…as a resurrection replica in a different world altogether, a resurrection world inhabited only by
    resurrected persons. This world occupied its own space distinct from that with which we are now
    familiar. That is to say, an object in the resurrection world is not situated at any distance or in any
    direction from the objects in the present world, although each object in either world is spatially related to
    every other object in the same world. (John Hick, ‗Philosophy of Religion‘, 1990)

Hick considered that he was demonstrating that the resurrection of the body is logically possible, and so it is
only a small step to say that a person can therefore experience bodily resurrection in a place where
resurrected bodies dwell.

 Hick‘s view is compatible with a Christian understanding of the resurrection of the body, as St Paul wrote
 in 1 Corinthians 15: 35-44…
    But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36How
 foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body
 that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has
 determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39All flesh is not the same: Men have one
 kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies
 and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor
 of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars
 another; and star differs from star in splendor.
    So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised
 imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
   it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

       If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

 Summary of St. Paul quote:

 St. Paul taught that after death the body will be raised, but it will be transformed and will become a spiritual
 body, as unlike its earthly form as the seed is from the plant into which it grows.

 Hick draws on this passage as a way to explain how an individual keeps the personal identity that he or she
 had in life but is able to achieve eternal life in a bodily form.

Other philosophers have criticised Hick‘s replica theory as they argue a replica is not the original and
therefore the ‗individual‘ has not survived his or her death. In the same way, an art expert would not be
prepared to pay millions of pounds for a replica painting of the Mona Lisa however much it looked like the

Even if others can recognise me in my ‗new‘ body, and I have the same memories as before I died, many
philosophers do not accept that a replica body is still the same ‗I‘ that died.

It is a question of which of the following statements is accepted as correct:
a) First I existed in this world, then I died, and then I existed again in the next world
b) First I existed in this world, then I died, and then God created someone else who is exactly similar to me.


Hick tried to solve this problem with a series of thought experiments, to prove that the ‗I‘ that existed in this
world is the same ‗I‘ as resurrected in the next.

He imagined a man called John Smith, who lived in the US. One day, his friends watched as Smith suddenly
vanished without trace. At the same moment as he disappeared, a replica Smith appeared in India.
According to Hick, this Smith: ‗is exactly similar in both physical and mental characteristics to the person
who disappeared in America. There is continuity of memory, complete similarity of bodily features including
fingerprints, emotions and mental dispositions. Further, the ―John Smith‖ replica thinks of himself as being
the John Smith who disappeared in the United States. After all possible tests have been made, and have
proved positive, the factors leading his friends to accept ―John Smith‖ as John Smith would surely prevail
and would cause them to overlook even his mysterious transference from one continent to another, rather
that treat ―John Smith‖ with all of John Smith‘s memories and other characteristics, as someone other than
John Smith.‘

Hick continued by supposing that John Smith died. God recreated John Smith in the next world and this
recreated ‗John Smith‘ was the same person.

                     TASK: Summarise Hick‟s thought experiment in the spaces below

Hick‟s thought experiment in summary:
He imagines a man called John Smith, who lived in the United States….








1) At what point in X‘s previous life would X‘s replica take the appearance of?

2) Since Hick relies on God‘s omnipotence (power) to replicate us. If God made two identical replicas
   of X in the afterlife would these both be the same X that died?

3) Some critics argue that Hick is relying on the existence of God to create the replica and as the
   existence of God is not proven then neither is the replica theory. Does Hick‘s theory fall too far into
   the realm of faith rather than reason?

    John Hick has his own website with articles including one on resurrection:           4
           2. JOHN LOCKE: Resurrection and Psychological Continuity
The philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) thought that personal identity consisted neither in sameness
of body nor in sameness of soul but, rather, in what he called „sameness of consciousness‟. It is
psychological continuity that is most important in personal identity. So as long as we have our
memories we would be the same „person‟, even if resurrected in a different body.

Locke cannot strictly be said to be a materialist or dualist, instead he is agnostic about the immateriality of
the soul. Locke suggests that given our ignorance of substances, it was possible that God could make
matter that could think (a soul). He suggested that it was no farther beyond our comprehension that motions
of the body could give rise to pleasure and pain than that an immaterial soul could feel pain after the
occurrence of some motions in the body. He suggested that the immateriality of the soul was not particularly
important. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke writes:

           All the great ends of Morality and Religion, are well enough secured without the
           philosophical Proofs of the Soul's Immateriality; since it is evident that he who, at
           first made us beings to subsist here, sensible intelligent Beings, and for several years
           continued us in such a state, can and will restore us to a like state of Sensibility in
           another World, and make us there capable to receive the Retribution he has
           designed to men, according to the doings in this life.

Locke is arguing against the sceptical conclusions about immaterial versus material substance; he is
agnostic about the immateriality of the soul and is saying it does not matter as an afterlife is assured.


The quote above talks of God restoring us ‘to a life state of Sensibility in another World’, but as we have
discussed with the first criticism of Hick‘s replica theory, the problem with resurrection begins with Biblical
texts asserting that we will have the same body at the Resurrection as we did in this life. The issue is in what
sense this is true.

The philosopher Robert Boyle had raised some of these puzzles. Boyle writes:

         When a man is once really dead, divers of the parts of his body will, according to the
         course of nature, resolve themselves into multitudes of steams that wander to and fro in
         the air; and the remaining parts, that are either liquid or soft, undergo so great a
         corruption and change, that it is not possible so many scattered parts should be again
         brought together, and reunited after the same manner, wherein they existed in a human
         body whilst it was yet alive. And much more impossible it is to effect this reunion, if the
         body have been, as it often happens, devoured by wild beasts or fishes; since in this
         case, though the scattered parts of the cadaver might be recovered as particles of
         matter, yet already having passed into the substance of other animals, they are quite
         transmuted, as being informed by the new form of the beast or fish that devoured them
         and of which they now make a substantial part. (Robert Boyle, Selected Philosophical
         Papers of Robert Boyle).

These difficulties with putting bodies back together (after being mauled in the above example) are obviously
considerable, though not perhaps beyond the powers of Omnipotence. The culminating problem, however,
is what happens to the man whose body is eaten by cannibals? Boyle continues:

         And yet far more impossible will this reintegration be, if we put
         the case that the dead man was devoured by cannibals; for
         then, the same flesh belonging successively to two different
         persons, it is impossible that both should have it restored to
         them at once, or that any footsteps should remain of the relation
         it had to the first possessor.


Locke draws radical distinctions between ‗man‘, ‗soul‘ and ‗person‘.

    Locke argues, in summary:
    o    „Man‟ is the human body, it can deteriorate all the time (loses atoms) but stays the same as long as it
         continues functioning as a living body.
    o    The „soul‟ is the thinking substance, necessary for consciousness to arise.
    o    The „person‟ is consciousness, which arises from the soul (or is enclosed in ‗spiritual substances‘).
         However, consciousness constitutes personal identity and can be transferred between souls, the souls
         between bodies.
    o    This means as long as we have psychological continuity, i.e. retain our own memories, we can
         be resurrected in a different body (even with a different soul) yet still be the same person.

In detail:
What should be understood by „man‟?

o       The term ‗man‘ refers to a living body of a particular shape.
o       The body is a carefully organised construction whose parts work in a certain way. So long as they work,
        the creature is alive.
o       So long as this body continues to function, it will be the same man.

What should be understood by „person‟?

o       For Locke it is consciousness that creates personal identity. He claimed that consciousness is
        enclosed in spiritual substances (the soul as the ‗thinking substance‘).
o       The identity of a person consists in a continued consciousness. Locke thinks that the same self could
        exist in different bodies.
o       Locke holds that consciousness can be transferred from one soul to another, and that personal identity
        goes with consciousness.
o       Locke considers that consciousness can be transferred from one substance to another and thus while
        the soul is changed, consciousness remains the same and thus personal identity is preserved through

There is therefore a difference between a human (‘man’) and a human’s personal identity (consciousness).
Locke‟s memory theory, concerning psychological continuity, acts as support for resurrection of the
same person in a different body.

What is understood by the „soul‟?

Locke argues consciousness can be transferred from one soul to another, and that personal identity goes with
consciousness. The soul is what consciousness inhabits/arises from, but the soul is not the „person‟.

The same soul („thinking substance‟) is neither necessary nor sufficient for personal identity:
o As with ‗man‘, the functional organization of a living body which is preserved through the gradual
   changes in the atoms which instantiate that organization at any given time, so too should there be at any
   given time a soul or thinking substance.
o However, over time there is no necessity that one have the same soul to preserve personal identity.

Why does Locke make this distinction between soul and consciousness? This distinction has little bearing
on problems about the same body at the resurrection. Still, the resurrection is important. The answer lies in
Locke's interest in justice at the final judgment.
o Given the limits of human understanding, Locke is sceptical about our ability to re-identify the same soul
    over time.
o He claims that if we were always awake, we could be certain that we had the same soul. But
    consciousness has natural gaps in it, such as periods during which we are asleep.
o Locke claims that there is no way of knowing that one soul has not been substituted for another during
    this period of absence of consciousness.


    Locke’s MEMORY THEORY: how consciousness provides personhood

    X is the same person as Y if and only if X shares at least one experiential memory with Y.

    Thus, if I had a memory of something that Plato once did, Plato and I would be one.

    According to Locke, not all memories or mental events count as the kinds of memory that underpin
    personal identity. Specifically, Locke thinks that the only kinds of memory that count are experiential
    memories, namely memories of things that one experiences through the five senses.
    o So, a memory of me once seeing a particular sunset is experiential and counts.
    o But having a mental event such that I now have the thought that "two plus two equals four" would not
        count, because it is not experiential. Such mental events can be shared between people, since they
        are not experiences.
    o As a result, there is no doubt that Plato and I share a lot of beliefs about math. But that doesn't make
        us one and the same person.
    o It would be the memory of watching Socrates teach, for example, that would make me the same
        person as Plato.

As a demonstration of his memory theory, Locke explicitly tells us that his thought experiment of the prince
and the cobbler shows us the resolution of the problem of the resurrection:

o     Locke used the example of the soul of a prince transferred from the prince‘s body into the body of a
      cobbler whose soul has departed.
o     The prince still has princely thoughts as a prince, even though his body is different.
o     Therefore, according to Locke, he is still the prince, and retains his personal identity, even though
      ‗he would be the same cobbler to everyone besides himself.‘


Locke's distinction between man and person makes it possible for the same person to show up in a different
body at the resurrection and yet still be the same person: ‗thus we may be able, without any difficulty, to
conceive the same person at the resurrection, though in a body not exactly in make or parts the same which
he had here, the same consciousness going along with the soul that inhabits it.‘

Locke focuses on the prince with all his princely thoughts because, on his view, it is consciousness which
is crucial to the reward and punishment which is to be meted out at the Last Judgment.


NOTE: Locke‘s theory has been amended over time by other philosophers to account for things such
as gaps in memory – which we all have – so that the memory theory is now taken to mean that an
individual should remember enough of their past states of consciousness, and it is this awareness of
self in different places and times that is the personal identity. This means that an individual can have
different bodies and yet still have continuity.

1. Is continuity of memory strictly required for personal identity through time?
o If struck by total amnesia would you not be the same person, but in a situation where you would
    have to relearn that you are in fact yourself?

2. God filling our gaps in memory at resurrection suggests it is not memory that solely
constitutes the person.

Controversially, Locke says that we should not punish the sober man for actions he has no memory of
when drunk. Yet we do and rightly so, Locke says. How is this not a contradiction? This is not entirely
clear, Locke says that it‘s hard to prove whether someone who claims to be drunk/mad really cannot
remember. But what‘s important to us is that he then says that on the Day of Judgement, people will
receive their just deserts.
o Now, his first claim suggests that if it can be shown that someone drank so much as to have no
    memories, they should get off.
o The second implies that any wrongs on Earth will have to be accounted for on the Day of Judgment.

But this suggests that God will have to restore to me those memories I lost so that I truly am the same
person as the person who committed the crime I earlier could not recall.
o But what should be understood by these God given memories, if they really are my memories?
o Since I do not hold these memories myself, it is implied that whether X is a memory of S depends
   on something else (e.g. the body that recorded it) and hence that personhood doesn‘t consist in
   memory at all.

3. Could God reproduce your memories in two or more bodies?
o Similar to the second criticism of Hick where God could conceivably
    make more than one replica, if God replicated your memories into a
    number of bodies what would this mean for the individual ‗person‘?

4. “Memory” is ambiguous.
o There is a weak, permissive subjective sense of ―remember,‖ sense (i), meaning only, to have
    apparent memories as of such-and-such;
         Memory in sense (i) is not sufficient for personal identity. I may think I am the Duke of
            Wellington reincarnated, and have apparent memories of Waterloo—even very vivid ones—
            but that does not make me the Duke of Wellington. (What it makes me is a loony.)
o And there is a strong, demanding, objective sense, (ii), meaning to have accurate, correct, or
    veridical (truthful in the sense that I had experienced the event through perception, rather than
    merely through a delusion) memories.
         Memory in sense (ii) is sufficient for personal identity, but for a trivial and unhelpful reason.
            To say that my memory of teaching our last class is accurate or correct just means that I
            really did teach that class and I then experienced it as the memory now depicts. But the
            latter already presupposes that I am the same person that did and experienced the
            teaching. Memory in sense (ii) presupposes personal identity through time; so it can’t also
            be the ground of personal identity through time.
         (Put it this way, if you asked me: ―What is life?‖ You would be asking what it is for
            something to be a living thing. Suppose I answered, ―To be a living thing is to be subject to
            death; a living thing is a thing that can die.‖ That wouldn‘t help explain what life is, because
            the concept of dying already presupposes that a thing is alive.)

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