“I, now” and related notes


Is “Person A” the same person as she was five years ago? Despite ageing, and taking into account the effects of lifestyle on her appearance and physical well-being, she is probably still recognisable as the same person. However, psychologically she is merely related to the person she was five years ago. To say she is psychologically the same person, is not too different from alleging that one of my two sisters and I are the same person, just because we come from the same womb.

By law, this person is still “Person A”. She is still responsible for contracts she had signed five years ago. She can also still be held responsible for criminal acts she may have committed five or ten years ago.

She also still carries the joys and burdens of choices she has made, or incidents in which she has been involved any time during her past.

The SELF, however, does not remain constant. “SELF 2004 of Person A” is only psychologically related to “SELF 1999 of Person A”.

It can also be asked whether “SELF May 2004 of Person X” is the same as “SELF July 2004 of Person X”, or just related. The answer is again that the two are only related, but probably more closely than “SELF 1995 of Person X” and “SELF 2003 of Person X” (a particular truth for Person X, which cannot necessarily be applied to Person A).

One can even go further and ask about the relation between “SELF 4 July 2004 at 16:34 of Person X” and “SELF 4 July 2004 at 16:33 of Person X”. The answer is the same: still only related, but there is a high probability that the degree of relation is closer than in the case of, for example, “May SELF” and “July SELF”. (Again, any mention of relation in the case of Person X is not necessarily valid for Person A, because five minutes – even one minute – can make a dramatic difference in one person’s life, while relatively little may change over the course of a month in another person’s life.)