Strawson argues that the root error is to take Locke's use of the word "person" only in the ordinary way, as merely a term for a standard persisting thing, like "human being." In actuality, Locke uses "person" primarily as a forensic or legal term geared specifically to questions about praise and blame, punishment and reward. In these terms, your personal identity is roughly a matter of those of your past actions that you are still responsible for because you are still "conscious" of them in Locke's special sense of that word.
Clearly and vigorously argued, this is an important contribution both to the history of philosophy and to the contemporary philosophy of personal identity.
Galen Strawson taught philosophy at the University of Oxford for twenty years before moving to Reading University in 2001. His many books include "Freedom and Belief" and "Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics".
In Mental Reality, Galen Strawson argues that much contemporary philosophy of mind gives undue primacy of place to publicly observable phenomena, nonmental phenomena, and behavioral phenomena (understood as publicly observable phenomena) in its account of the nature of mind. It does so at the expense of the phenomena of conscious experience. Strawson describes an alternative position, "naturalized Cartesianism," which couples the materialist view that mind is entirely natural and wholly physical with a fully realist account of the nature of conscious experience. Naturalized Cartesianism is an adductive (as opposed to reductive) form of materialism. Adductive materialists don't claim that conscious experience is anything less than we ordinarily conceive it to be, in being wholly physical. They claim instead that the physical is something more than we ordinarily conceive it to be, given that many of the wholly physical goings on in the brain constitute—literally are—conscious experiences as we ordinarily conceive them.
Since naturalized Cartesianism downgrades the place of reference to nonmental and publicly observable phenomena in an adequate account of mental phenomena, Strawson considers in detail the question of what part such reference still has to play. He argues that it is a mistake to think that all behavioral phenomena are publicly observable phenomena.This revised and expanded edition of Mental Reality includes a new appendix, which thoroughly revises the account of intentionality given in chapter 7.