Personal Identity in Aquinas and Shakespeare

John Finnis

in Intention and Identity

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580064
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729386 | DOI:
Personal Identity in Aquinas and Shakespeare

Show Summary Details


The first of this chapter's nine sections gives a fresh account of the four kinds of order and intellectual discipline, focusing on the four irreducibly distinct explanations of the reality called (since the late 17th century) ‘personal identity’. The second locates the roles of bodiliness and choice in establishing that identity, in the philosophical analyses of Aquinas and the understanding of human existence, nature, and personality conveyed by Shakespeare. Locke's rival understanding and account is described and critiqued. The third section analyses nature, inclinations, character, and honour in All's Well that Ends Well, and the fourth section reflects on self-consciousness and commitment (including conversion) in that play and in Richard III and in Aquinas's remarkable teaching about one's earliest morally significant choices. The fifth section looks at commitment and identity in marriage, as seen in All's Well and the poem Phoenix and Turtle. All's Well is also the principal source for the following section's consideration of humiliation and identity, the seventh section's consideration of repentance and identity, and the eight's consideration of personal maturity and decay. The last section returns to the relevance of the four orders and summarizes the results of the investigation.

Keywords: four orders; personal identity; Locke; Aquinas; Shakespeare; choice; character; conversion; humiliation; repentance

Chapter.  16008 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.