more from Thomas Reid

Single Idea 21323

[catalogued under 16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self]

Full Idea

A man challenges a thief in possession of his horse only on similarity. The testimony of witnesses to the identity of a person is commonly grounded on no other evidence. ...Evidence of our own identity is grounded in memory, and gives undoubted certainty.

Gist of Idea

The identity of a thief is only known by similarity, but memory gives certainty in our own case


Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers 3: Memory [1785], III.Ch 4)

Book Reference

'Personal Identity', ed/tr. Perry,John [University of California 1975], p.111

A Reaction

With other people the best we can hope for is type-identity, hoping that each individual being is a unique type, but with otherselves we are always confident of establishing token identity. Could I have been someone different yesterday, without realising?