It is important to be clear on this question about the implications of following the self-approach as opposed to the persons-approach. A person suffering loss of memory may ask himself the question ‘Who am I?’ Such a person does not know who he is in the sense that he lacks certain autobiographical knowledge about himself such as his name, his home address, his relatives, and his occupation. One in such a predicament may be said to lack knowledge of his personal identity. This is pre-eminently the problem that the persons-approach is concerned to solve. The question the sufferer from amnesia asks himself is a question about his identification, and he would in the first instance be prepared to accept a statement by a third party telling him who he is, although of course he will only feel completely confident about the third person identification when he gets his memory back and it bears out the identification he has been given. The identity of a person from this standpoint is ascertained in basically the same way as is the identity of a material object. For instance a man’s identity can be ascertained by identi-
fying his finger-prints - assuming there is a record of them. Now it is clearly the case that a person asking himself the question ‘Who am I?’ is not at all concerned with the question of his identity as subject of his present experiences. We could go so far as to say that his being a conscious subject is a necessary condition of his being able to raise the question of his identity of which he is ignorant. Thus a person suffering amnesia about his past is not a person who does not know that he is a self. He wishes to find out certain things that are true of the self he now experiences himself as being. Such a person could wonder philosophically what it is to be a self, and that wonder would not be removed upon his being given certain biographical details about himself.