Hume - Hume 10/23 The soul is compared to a commonwealth...

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Hume 10/23 The soul is compared to a commonwealth - Retains its identity not by virtue, but by being composed of many different, related, and yet constantly changing elements - Question of personal identity then becomes a matter of characterizing the loose cohesion of one’s personal experience Identity - A fiction - More importantly, relations of causation, contiguity, and resemblances obtain among perceptions - Perceptions do not belong to anything Of Personal Identity - Most philosophers think we are continuously aware of something we call the self - When we look to our experience, we cannot substantiate this belief - We are never aware of any constant invariable impression that could answer to the name of self - What we experience is a continuous flow of perceptions that replace one another in rapid succession "When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception." In mind - Perceptions make their appearances (pass, re-pass, glide, mingle) - Never any simplicity within the mind at one time nor identity at two different times - We have no idea of a self o Self or person is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to have reference Why do we have such a tendency to ascribe identity to our successive perceptions? - Hume points out that a distinction must first be made between “personal identity” (regarding our thoughts and imaginations… vs. regarding our passions or concern we take in ourselves) - His concern is with the former - Ideas between identity and diversity o Identity- idea of an object that persists, invariable, uninterrupted through a span of time. This comprises our idea of identity. o Diversity- idea of several different objects existing in succession, connected together by close relation o Although these two are distinct, in “common way of thinking” we generally confound them (often claim that an object at one time is identical with an object at another time when in fact the 2 are little more than a succession of different objects connected by a close relation o To justify the descriptions of identity 1. Notion of self by feigning continued existence of our perceptions The self does not exist 2. Imagine the existence of something mysterious which binds our many perceptions together What induces us mistakenly to attribute identity to something like diversity? - Workings of the imagination
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- Answer: “Passage of thought from the object before the change to the object after it, is so smooth and easy, that we scarce perceive the transition, and are apt to imagine, that ‘tis nothing but a continued survey of the same object” - Another way ascribe identity to objects that are variable and interrupted— o Account of personal identity o Identity of mind- (changing things like planets, animals) is only a
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This note was uploaded on 03/04/2009 for the course PHL 303 taught by Professor Leon during the Fall '07 term at University of Texas.

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Hume - Hume 10/23 The soul is compared to a commonwealth...

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