Freud’s, theory of the unconscious challenged different parts of Locke’s, Butler’s, and Hume’s theories of personal identity. Although Freud was pretty straightforward with his arguments towards his thinking of personal identity, the three philosophers come up with their own theories which are challenging to some ideas Freud brought up during his theory.
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First, Freud believed that the unconscious mind was a force of feelings and thoughts. He believed that the unconscious mind came from memories that was caused from the outside our conscious awareness. He also mentioned that most of its content was very negative and can often be unpleasant. He gives a great example of the unconscious and conscious mind through using “iceberg” to explain his points. He believed that the ice above the water is our conscious mind and the part where we cannot estimate how big or small the icebergs are will be our unconscious mind. He further explains that he believes unconscious mind is mostly affected through our emotion, feelings, and desires. He gives tern such as life and death to explain his points that life mostly resembles survival and death resembles trauma, aggression, and anger.
However, some of his ideas were viewed differently and was a challenge towards their theories of personal identity. Firstly, John Locke’s belief was that “person” and “man” were two different concepts. He believe that man was a particular of living and person as a thing of an intelligent being. He also stated a point where “if x is at t1 and y is at t2 and if x has a consciousness of experience of the Y then they are the same.” This shows that John Locke was convinced that the consciousness is a substance from memory rather than soul, or the body which led to his idea of “memory” theory.
Secondly, Butler first criticizes Locke’s memory theory and leads on to his idea of the self and it should be more than just a substance. Although he agreed that memories are perceptions to the past of the same identity, he did not believe that they are what created identity. His point was straightforward that consciousness exists before identity and that memories are something that “me” is coming up with the term memories to remember its past self. He also stated that people act in a respected way for its future identity which also proves that consciousness comes before identity. He sums up his point by giving an example of a boy and that even with the idea of forgetting and remembering cannot change the outcome of the general. Thus, since the experiences are as real to the boy as it is to the general and that memory could not change that. This also challenges the idea of Freud’s idea of the unconscious mind as in memory.
Finally, Hume believed in the idea of the self as a bundle which was called the “bundle” theory. According to Hume, he was convinced that our identity is an illusion and that without any perception the person would be rather unconscious than alive. He strongly believe that senses that we feel were always changing and that the world itself is even always changing. He then furthers his point by saying that if the world is changing then the senses show that nothing stays the same. For example, if acorn grows into a tree then how could we tell if it is the same thing? He explains that people use their mind which is imagination to percept the idea which explains his belief of identity as an illusion towards people. Hume believed that continuity was a mental habit that people made to define their self or identity. He elaborates that we cannot have direct link to our identities just like how we cannot have direct link to the outside world and that what we have been is just our inner depictions.
As a result, these different theories such as memory and bundle shows that different philosophers had different points and beliefs about personal identity. It challenged many ideas that some time were similar and different. Since points such as whether memory comes first before identity or not challenged many ideas between Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind.
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