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Individu et personne

La question de l'individuation appartient à la philosophie; l'identité personnelle est au contraire d'ordre juridique. Locke faisait cette distinction sur l'exemple de Socrate, les philosophes indiens invoquaient l'exemple de Devadatta. Leurs analyses sont comparables et conduisent à distinguer identité et unité, personne et individu. Qu'est-ce qu'un homme? Il y a trois réponses possibles:

L'homme est son âme ou l'intellect.
L'homme est un corps animé par une âme sensitive.
L'homme est un composé des deux.

Cf. Alain de Libera, Archéologie du sujet. 1/ Naissance du sujet, Paris, Vrin, 2007, p. 189: La triade des réponses possibles vient de Saint Thomas d'Aquin.

«Mais, quelle que soit celle de ces hypothèses que vous adoptez, il est impossible de faire que l'identité personnelle consiste en quoi que ce soit d'autre que la conscience, ou s'étende au-delà de ce que celle-ci appréhende (Now, take which of these suppositions you please, it is impossible to make personal identity to consist in anything but consciousness; or reach any further than that does).».

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), Livre II, chapitre 27, On Identity and Diversity. Traduction Balibar dans: John Locke, Identité et différence. L'invention de la conscience, Présenté, traduit et commenté par Etienne Balibar, Bilingue anglais-français, Paris, Seuil, 1998 (Points Essais), p. 169. Ce texte de Locke est l'acte de baptême du sujet moderne.

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Livre II, chapitre 27, On Identity and Diversity

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/locke/john/l81u/B2.27.html

9. Personal identity. This being premised, to find wherein personal identity consists, we must consider what person stands for;— which, I think, is a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive. When we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, meditate, or will anything, we know that we do so. Thus it is always as to our present sensations and perceptions: and by this every one is to himself that which he calls self:— it not being considered, in this case, whether the same self be continued in the same or divers substances. For, since consciousness always accompanies thinking, and it is that which makes every one to be what he calls self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal identity, i.e. the sameness of a rational being: and as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far reaches the identity of that person; it is the same self now it was then; and it is by the same self with this present one that now reflects on it, that that action was done.

10. Consciousness makes personal identity. But it is further inquired, whether it be the same identical substance. This few would think they had reason to doubt of, if these perceptions, with their consciousness, always remained present in the mind, whereby the same thinking thing would be always consciously present, and, as would be thought, evidently the same to itself. But that which seems to make the difficulty is this, that this consciousness being interrupted always by forgetfulness, there being no moment of our lives wherein we have the whole train of all our past actions before our eyes in one view, but even the best memories losing the sight of one part whilst they are viewing another; and we sometimes, and that the greatest part of our lives, not reflecting on our past selves, being intent on our present thoughts, and in sound sleep having no thoughts at all, or at least none with that consciousness which remarks our waking thoughts,— I say, in all these cases, our consciousness being interrupted, and we losing the sight of our past selves, doubts are raised whether we are the same thinking thing, i.e. the same substance or no. Which, however reasonable or unreasonable, concerns not personal identity at all. The question being what makes the same person; and not whether it be the same identical substance, which always thinks in the same person, which, in this case, matters not at all: different substances, by the same consciousness (where they do partake in it) being united into one person, as well as different bodies by the same life are united into one animal, whose identity is preserved in that change of substances by the unity of one continued life. For, it being the same consciousness that makes a man be himself to himself, personal identity depends on that only, whether it be annexed solely to one individual substance, or can be continued in a succession of several substances. For as far as any intelligent being can repeat the idea of any past action with the same consciousness it had of it at first, and with the same consciousness it has of any present action; so far it is the same personal self For it is by the consciousness it has of its present thoughts and actions, that it is self to itself now, and so will be the same self, as far as the same consciousness can extend to actions past or to come. and would be by distance of time, or change of substance, no more two persons, than a man be two men by wearing other clothes to-day than he did yesterday, with a long or a short sleep between: the same consciousness uniting those distant actions into the same person, whatever substances contributed to their production.

L'identité individuelle est-elle une unité? Trois réponses possibles

21. Difference between identity of man and of person. But yet it is hard to conceive that Socrates, the same individual man, should be two persons. To help us a little in this, we must consider what is meant by Socrates, or the same individual man. First, it must be either the same individual, immaterial, thinking substance; in short, the same numerical soul, and nothing else. Secondly, or the same animal, without any regard to an immaterial soul. Thirdly, or the same immaterial spirit united to the same animal. Now, take which of these suppositions you please, it is impossible to make personal identity to consist in anything but consciousness; or reach any further than that does.

For, by the first of them, it must be allowed possible that a man born of different women, and in distant times, may be the same man. A way of speaking which, whoever admits, must allow it possible for the same man to be two distinct persons, as any two that have lived in different ages without the knowledge of one another's thoughts. By the second and third, Socrates, in this life and after it, cannot be the same man any way, but by the same consciousness; and so making human identity to consist in the same thing wherein we place personal identity, there will be no difficulty to allow the same man to be the same person. But then they who place human identity in consciousness only, and not in something else, must consider how they will make the infant Socrates the same man with Socrates after the resurrection. But whatsoever to some men makes a man, and consequently the same individual man, wherein perhaps few are agreed, personal identity can by us be placed in nothing but consciousness, (which is that alone which makes what we call self,) without involving us in great absurdities.

De Libera, p. 355, note complém. 11* renvoie à:

Luc Foisneau, Identité personnelle et mortalité humaine:
Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Archives de Philosophie 2004/1 - Tome 67, pages 65 à 83.

(67) Le problème de l'identité personnelle possède en outre une dimension théologique, car il est lié à une interrogation sur l'identité de la personne par-delà l'événement de la mort. Cette interrogation prolonge de fait la précédente, puisqu'il s'agit de savoir s'il est ou non possible d'imputer à l'homme ressuscité les actions et les paroles commises par l'homme avant sa mort, à savoir s'il est possible de considérer la mortalité de l'homme comme indifférente d'un point de vue moral. Cette double interrogation met clairement en évidence l'importance du problème de la mortalité humaine au coeur de la réflexion moderne sur l'identité personnelle.

(72) Si Locke ne cite pas directement le chapitre XVI du Léviathan, il n'en demeure pas moins en effet que la définition qu'il donne de la personne comme terme juridique doit beaucoup à la définition que donne Hobbes de la personne naturelle. La personne a pour fonction d'«approprier» des actions; grâce à la conscience, la personne «reconnaît pour siennes» des actions passées. Si le verbe to appropriate ne fait pas partie du vocabulaire de Hobbes, il n'en va pas de même pour le verbe to own, dont on sait qu'il joue un rôle considérable dans la mise en place de la théorie de la personne dans le chapitre XVI du Léviathan. Ce mot rassemble en effet dans un même syntagme la signification du propre (my own), qui renvoie à la question de l'identité à soi, la signification de la propriété, owner désignant le propriétaire, et la signification de la reconnaissance, quasiment au sens de l'aveu, puisque to own veut dire également reconnaître ou avouer. L'originalité de Locke est ainsi d'avoir posé la question de l'identité en termes juridiques, à partir du concept de personne, et non pas en terme métaphysique, à partir du concept de substance, c'est-à-dire d'avoir distingué, ce que n'avait pas su faire Hobbes, le problème de l'identité personnelle et le problème de l'individuation de la substance.