The Sleeper Wakes
by Joel Marks
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Derek Parfit’s discussion of personal identity in his 1984 book Reasons and Persons is a challenge to our deepest intuitions about who and what we are or even whether we are. Although his treatment of it was novel, the problem of personal identity is hardly new. Basically, the question is, what makes you you? And what makes you continue to be you as time goes by and you age and change? I have written about the problem in this column before (Issue 74) as well as in a science-fiction (or philosophy-fiction) story called ‘Teleporter on Trial’ published in SciFiDimensions.