This paper, intended for general readership, discusses the real-life effects that personal identity theory either has had or has apparently failed to have upon two philosophers: David Hume and Derek Parfit. Both arrive at similar and quite radical beliefs about personal identity. And both have documented the difficulty of sustaining these beliefs in their day-to-day lives. For those considering embarking upon philosophical study – whether formally or not – this last point may seem discouraging, reinforcing a picture of a discipline that even on the admission of its own practitioners has little impact on everyday life or concerns. I explore these two philosophers’ views on personal identity in some detail, and outline the conflicts which they claim to exist between their philosophical and non-philosophical thinking. I will go on to propose that these conflicts do not in fact reinforce an opposition between everyday life and philosophy.
Behrendt, Kathy. ‘Despair, Liberation, and Everyday Life: Two Bundle Views of Personal Identity’, Richmond Journal of Philosophy 5 (2003)