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The Concept of Identity Paperback – February 20, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0195074741 ISBN-10: 0195074742

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 20, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195074742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195074741
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,614,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A penetrating and original discussion of spatial unity, identity through time and related topics."--Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

"The book as a whole tackles a cluster of central metaphysical issues in a consistently clear and careful manner. Moreover, Hirsch is pleasantly undogmatic and endeavors to give fair treatment to those views he eventually rejects. His arguments for his own conclusions are frequently all-the-more forceful for that."--International Studies in Philosophy

"Hirsch's book is required reading for anyone with a serious interest in identity in particular and metaphysics in general. The book is tightly argued, clearly written, and filled with fascinating material."--The Philosophical Review

"Careful and painstaking....The standard of argument is high and Hirsch has something interesting to say on every topic he discusses. I believe that no one interested in its subject could read this book without profit."--The Philosophical Quarterly

"Hirsch's book is marked by its clarity and carefulness of argumentation and its general sensibleness....It is a book that philosophers will want to consider for use in mid-level and advanced courses."--Review of Metaphysics

About the Author

Eli Hirsch is at Brandeis University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. King on December 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
A worthwhile excursion in philosophy, accessible with good and imaginative examples and only a small degree of formalism that might put off some readers. Hirsh's topic lies at the root of ontological discourse - what is it about an object that makes it unique, identifiable and discernible from other objects.

According to Hirsh, identity relies on the persistence of objects over time, contiguity over space and articulation, that is distinctiveness from the background. The identifying characteristics of an object are known as sortals, a term originating with John Locke. A sortal is a noun-like property such as "giraffeness" as opposed to adjectival (tall) or adverbial (speedy) which gives an object a category. We then employ persistance , co-location, contiguity and connectedness to discern an object from similar objects of the same kind. In maintaining that an object's identity remains the same over time we allow for discrete changes of non-sortal properties.

The rationals discussed for our assigning an unique identity are conventionalism, empiricism and innate human nature.

Conventionalism simply means that the identification of an object is based on common agreement. To illustrate this possiblity he suggest a language which would describe an "incar", meaning a car that is inside the garage, and an "outcar" - one that is outside the garage. Such a language would describe a car entering a garage as the transformation of an outcar to an incar. One identity to be replaced by another. He then brings up the notion of a villager. Inside the village he would have one identity - outside he would have another. I think Hirsch dismisses this too easily. At home I have one identity - at work I have another.
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The Concept of Identity
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