Identity Without Survival
An Account of Transformative Experiences
di Danny Marrero
Parfit claims that «[c]ertain important questions do presuppose a question about personal identity. But they can be freed of this presupposition. And when they are, the question about identity has no importance». In “Identity Without Survival: An Account of Transformative Experiences”, I show how transformative experiences are not fully understood with the concept of identity. There are some notable differences between Parfit’s account and mine. He studies cases of survival without identity, I study cases of identity without survival. His methodology is projection, while I do regressions. Radical changes in life come after a breaking experience. We see toward our past, compare our present self with our past self, and identify strong qualitative differences between them. Finally, while Parfit analyzes different imaginary cases, I use real cases such as moments of religious, or ideological conversion where the whole scheme of personal values is transformed. Someone going through these experiences could conceive of himself as a different person before and after the breaking point. These situations are experienced by the same person, but it seems that in these cases there are two different selves. If this is right, these cases can be described as situations of identity without survival. They are not cases of death, literally speaking. However, people experience their past selves as if they were dead. Defending this thesis, I am going to provide a concept of both identity and survival. In addition, I will show that transformative experiences fulfilled what is required for identity, but not what is required for survival.