The concept of the ‘self’ is regarded as an “entity which persists through time and change” (Grayling, pg. 540), in spite of other variations, albeit unnecessary ones, that occur in a person. Ones self is alleged to be the backbone of “thinking, perceiving, memory, and the like – the ultimate ‘bearers’ of our psychological properties.” (Grayling, pg. 540) The idea of ‘self’ is a topic of important philosophical debate, and one which Kant and Hume dexterously engage themselves in. This essay will begin by outlining Hume’s philosophical approach and his theory of self. Following that Kant’s theory of self will be looked at.
Hume held the belief that all the contents of the human mind were derived through experience only. He divided the mind’s perceptions into two groups, impressions and ideas. He declared that “the difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness with which they strike upon the mind” (Hume, pg. 10). Impressions are those perceptions which are the most strong, “which enter with most force and violence” (Hume, pg. 10), while ideas are their “less forcible and lively” counterpart. Impressions are directly experienced, they result from inward and outward sentiments. Ideas, conversely, are copying mechanisms which reproduce sense data. They are formulated based upon the previously perceived impressions “By ideas, I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning” (Hume, pg. 10).
Hume proposes that the notion of the self has no empirical foundation. He postulates that all ideas are a result of a prior impression. Following this he posits that since the idea of self relies on an impression, this impression must in some way endure throughout a persons whole life, since an idea of self is...
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...integrated experiencing subject. In Hume’s appendix to his Treatise of Human Nature, he admits the limitations of his stringently empirical style. He acknowledges “I neither know how to correct my former opinions, nor how to render them consistent” (Hume, pg. 341), and follows with the statement “If perceptions are distinct existences, they form a whole only by being connected together. But no connexions among distinct existences are ever discoverable by human understanding.” (Hume, pg. 341)
Hume’s theory of self does work as a firmly empirical viewpoint of self, however he admits himself that it is flawed. Therefore it appears that Kant’s view of the self is the better, as it stems from Hume’s and makes two further necessary points. For experience to occur it has to be synthesized, and these experiences must be collected and unified as those of a single subject.
...es. Therefore, the mind then mistakenly infers that this series of impressions is an individual persisting individual thing. Causation can also be explained by reusing the act of looking at a red shirt. When I look at a red shirt I know it is red based off of my earlier perceptions or impressions. I then experience the sensation of the color red, which relates to my ideas that I have of that color. And then when I look away, the memory of red still resides in my mind. In addition to causation, Hume’s also suggests propagation. Propagation is similar to regeneration where sensations occur and then memories of those sensations follow. Thus, due to causation and propagation, later stages of the mind are linked to the earlier. But since time is continuous and constantly changing, everything can change, but what stays constant is the concept of causation continuity.
Hume was an empiricist and a skeptic who believes in mainly the same ideals as Berkeley does, minus Berkeley’s belief in God, and looks more closely at the relations between experience and cause effect. Hume’s epistemological argument is that casual
Hume argues that perception can be divided into two types: impressions and ideas. He states that impressions are our first-hand perception, using all of our senses and emotions to experience them (Hume 2012, 8). For example, an impression of a sensation would be experiencing pain and an impression of reflection would be experiencing anger. Hume states that an idea is thinking about an impression. You cannot use your senses to experience the sensation or emotion, you are just simply reflecting on your experience (Hume 2007, 13). For example, thinking about the pain you felt when you stubbed your toe or thinking about how angry you felt when your football team lost. Hume argues that our thought is limited. He argues that when we imagine things such as an orange sea, we are simply joining two consistent ideas together. Hume argues that ‘all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones’ (Hume 2007, 13). This is called the Copy Principle.
His claim is that the mind is merely a bundle of perceptions that derive ultimately from sensory inputs or impressions. He follows on to say that ideas are reflections of these perceptions, or to be more precise, perceptions of perceptions, therefore can still be traced back to an original sensory input. Hume applied this logic to the perception of a ‘self’, to which he could not trace back to any sensory input, the result was paradoxical, thus he concluded that “there is no simplicity in (the mind) at one time, nor identity in different; whatever natural propension we might have to imagine that simplicity and
...that Hume recognizes that the circumstances surrounding people differ drastically, and so their lives differ drastically as well. These ‘natural forces,’ which he is so fond of, subject people to the same experience, but our unique situations mean they effect each one of us differently.
In the late eighteenth century, with the publication of his theories on morality, Immanuel Kant revolutionized philosophy in a way that greatly impacted the decades of thinkers after him. The result of his influence led to perceptions and interpretations of his ideas reflected in the works of writers all around the world. Kant’s idealism stems from a claim that moral law, a set of innate rules within each individual, gives people the ability to reason, and it is through this that people attain truth. These innate rules exist in the form of maxims: statements that hold a general truth. Using this, Kant concluded with the idea of autonomy, in which all rational human wills are autonomous, each individual is bound by their own will and in an ideal society, people should operate only according to their reason. Influenced by Kant’s ideas, an american writer by the name of Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his own call to individual morality through an essay on Self-Reliance. In “Self-Reliance”, Emerson tells individuals to trust in their own judgments, act only according to their own wills, and to use their own judgment to determine what is right. Emerson’s Self-Reliance and Kant’s autonomy differ to the extent of where reason comes from. However, they agree on its purpose in dictating the individual’s judgment and actions. As a result, Autonomy and Self-Reliance have essentially the same message. Both Kant and Emerson agree that the individual should trust only their own reason, that they are bound only by their own free will, and that the actions of an individual should be governed by reason.
Hume began his first examination if the mind by classifying its contents as Perceptions. “Here therefore [he divided] all the perceptions of the mind into two classes or species.” (27) First, Impressions represented an image of something that portrayed an immediate relationship. Secondly, there were thoughts and ideas, which constituted the less vivid impressions. For example, the recalling of a memory. From this distinction, Hume decreed that all ideas had origin within impressions.
Understanding how the mind works has been a major goal throughout philosophy, and an important piece of this deals with how humans come to experience the world. Many philosophers have attempted to investigate this issue, and Hume successfully proposed a framework by which human understanding could be understood. This writing, however, spurred Kant’s philosophical mind, awaking him from his “dogmatic slumber” and leading him to develop his own framework to define thought. As Kant strongly disagreed with Hume’s stance that “it was entirely impossible for reason to think a priori,” he set to correct Hume’s misguided view of custom in regards to objective and subjective reality.¹ The outside world, as defined by Kant, is referred to as nature, and “nature considered materialiter is the totality of all objects of experience” (Kant, 36). Human interaction with nature leads to judgments of experience, and these are empirical by definition (p. 38). Empirical judgments are not limited to judgments of experience, however. Judgments of perception and judgments of experience constitute all empirical judgments, and there are significant differences between the two (p. 38).
... but one about reason, that it is not this, but habit, which forms the basis of our beliefs. While it may be the case that denying an empirical fact may not result in a contradiction, Hume seems to be suggesting that it would still be irrational to do so. That abstracting from events to laws is a rational, though inductive, act seems hard to deny. Thus, at best, Hume can only show that it is experience which first provides the matter for reason.
Hume believes that there is no concept of self. That each moment we are a new being since nothing is constant from one moment to the next. There is no continuous “I” that is unchanging from one moment to the next. That self is a bundle of perceptions and emotions there is nothing that forms a self-impression which is essential to have an idea of one self. The mind is made up of a processions of perceptions.
Like John Locke, Hume believed that at birth people were a blank slate in terms of mental perception but his perspective was that humans do have one advantage: reason. Hume believed that everyone has the ability to reason with the natural order of the world and that it is this ability that separates us from other animals. However, Hume argues “against the rationalists that, although reason is needed to discover the facts of any concrete situation and the general social impact of a trait of character or a practice over time, reason alone is insufficient to yield a judgment that something is virtuous or vicious” (Hume’s Moral Philosophy). It is this distinction that separates him from some of his compatriots in terms of what he considers to be the drive of the whole of
...have struggled with the nature of human beings, especially with the concept of “self”. What Plato called “soul, Descartes named the “mind”, while Hume used the term “self”. This self, often visible during hardships, is what one can be certain of, whose existence is undoubtable. Descartes’s “I think, therefore I am” concept of transcendental self with just the conscious mind is too simplistic to capture the whole of one’s self. Similarly, the empirical self’s idea of brain in charge of one’s self also shows a narrow perspective. Hume’s bundle theory seeks to provide the distinction by claiming that a self is merely a habitual way of discussing certain perceptions. Although the idea of self is well established, philosophical insight still sees that there is no clear presentation of essential self and thus fails to prove that the true, essential self really exists.