Three Views of The Enduring Self

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 736 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 736|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Psychological Continuity Theory
  3. Biological Continuity Theory
  4. Narrative Identity Theory
  5. Conclusion


The concept of the enduring self has been a subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries. It pertains to the idea that there is a core aspect of an individual that remains constant throughout their life, despite the various changes they undergo. This enduring self is often considered the essence of personhood, providing continuity in identity amidst the flux of experiences and transformations. Philosophers have offered multiple perspectives on what constitutes this enduring self. Among these, the psychological continuity theory, the biological continuity theory, and the narrative identity theory stand out as principal frameworks for understanding the persistence of self over time. Each of these views offers a unique lens through which one can examine the enduring self, contributing to a nuanced and multifaceted comprehension of personal identity.

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Psychological Continuity Theory

The psychological continuity theory posits that the enduring self is fundamentally tied to psychological attributes such as memories, beliefs, desires, and personality traits. This perspective is closely associated with the works of John Locke, who argued that personal identity is rooted in consciousness and memory continuity. According to this theory, an individual remains the same person over time if they possess a continuous psychological connection, primarily through memory. For instance, the person who remembers their childhood experiences and can relate them to their current persona is considered to have an enduring self. The strength of this theory lies in its emphasis on the subjective experience and personal insight into one's identity. However, it also faces challenges, such as the problem of memory lapses or distortions, which can disrupt the sense of a continuous psychological self. Critics argue that memory alone cannot account for the complexity of personal identity, as it can be unreliable and fragmented.

Biological Continuity Theory

In contrast, the biological continuity theory anchors the enduring self in the physical continuity of the human organism. Proponents of this view, such as Eric Olson, suggest that personal identity is primarily a matter of biological continuity, where the same living organism persists through time. This perspective emphasizes the importance of the physical body in maintaining personal identity. According to this theory, as long as the biological organism that constitutes a person remains alive and functional, the person’s identity endures. This view addresses some of the limitations of the psychological continuity theory by providing a more tangible and observable criterion for personal identity. However, it also encounters difficulties, particularly in cases involving significant bodily changes or medical interventions that alter the physical state of an individual. Additionally, it raises questions about the role of the mind and psychological attributes in defining the self, which are not fully accounted for by purely biological criteria.

Narrative Identity Theory

The narrative identity theory offers a different approach by suggesting that the enduring self is constructed through the stories individuals tell about their lives. This perspective is championed by scholars like Paul Ricoeur and Alasdair MacIntyre, who argue that personal identity is formed and sustained through the narrative coherence of one's life story. According to this theory, individuals create a sense of self by integrating their experiences into a coherent narrative, which provides meaning and continuity. The enduring self, therefore, is seen as a dynamic and evolving narrative that encompasses past, present, and future. This approach highlights the significance of personal agency and the interpretive aspect of identity formation. However, it also has its limitations, as narratives can be subjective and influenced by cultural and social factors. Moreover, the fluid nature of narratives may make it challenging to establish a stable and enduring self.

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In conclusion, the enduring self is a multifaceted concept that has been explored through various philosophical frameworks. The psychological continuity theory emphasizes the role of memory and psychological attributes in maintaining personal identity, while the biological continuity theory focuses on the physical continuity of the human organism. The narrative identity theory, on the other hand, underscores the importance of personal narratives in constructing and sustaining a sense of self. Each of these perspectives offers valuable insights into the nature of the enduring self, highlighting different aspects of personal identity. While none of these theories can fully capture the complexity of the enduring self on their own, they collectively contribute to a richer and more comprehensive understanding of what it means to persist as the same person over time. The interplay between psychological, biological, and narrative elements underscores the intricate and multifaceted nature of personal identity, inviting ongoing exploration and dialogue in the field of philosophy.

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Cite this Essay

Three Views of the Enduring Self. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Three Views of the Enduring Self.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Three Views of the Enduring Self. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Three Views of the Enduring Self [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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