Miguel de Unamuno on Personal Identity
Tragic Sense of Life, trans. J.E. Crawford Flitch (Dover: 1954), orig. 1921, pp 9-10, 11.
To propose to a man that he should be someone else, that he should become someone else, is to propose to him that he should cease to be himself. Everyone defends his own personality, and only consents to a change in his mode of thinking or of feeling in so far as this change is able to enter into the unity of his spirit and become involved in its continuity; in so far as this change can harmonize and integrate itself with all the rest of his mode of being, thinking and feeling, and can at the the same time knit itself with his memories. Neither of a man nor of a people — which is, in a certain sense, also a man — can a change be demanded which breaks the unity and continuity of the person. A man can change greatly, almost completely even, but the change must take place within his continuity. ... Because for me the becoming other than I am, the breaking of the unity and continuity of my life, is to cease to be he who I am — that is to say, it is simply to cease to be. And that — no! Anything rather than that!