1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Material Identity. Individual Identity.

(Part 80)

(J) Intellection (cont.)

Material Identity. Individual Identity.

In material identity the unity is the one single presentation, whether simple or complex, which enters as a common constituents into two or more others. It may be possible of course to individualize it, but as it emerges in a comparison it is a single presentation and nothing more. On account of this absence of individual marks this single presentation is what logicians call "abstract" ; but this is nit psychologically essential. It may be a generic image which has resulted from the neutralization of individual marks, but it may equally well be simple presentation, like red, to which such marks never belonged. We come here from a new side upon a truth which has been already expounded at length, viz., that presentations are not given to us as individuals but as changes in a continuum. Time and space – the instruments, as it were, of individualization, which are presupposed in the objective sciences – are psychologically later than this mere differentiation.

The many vexed questions that arises concerning individual identity are metaphysical rather than psychological. But it will serve to bring out the difference between the two forms of identity to note that an identification cannot be established solely by qualitative comparison; and alibi or a breach of temporal continuity will turn the flank of the strongest argument from resemblance. Moreover, resemblance itself may be fatal to identification when the law of being is change. But, while temporal and spatial determinations are essential to individual identity they have, strictly speaking, no individual identity of their own. When we speak of two impressions occurring at the same time, or localize or project them into the same place, a careful analysis shows only that we detect no difference of temporal and local signs respectively, -- in other words, have only special cases of comparison.

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