The modern philosopher, David Hume, argued that the proof of self existence was not possible. Hume stated, “If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner” (Kolack and Thompson 642). Although Hume made some valid arguments, his views on self existence are both wrong and arrogant. The existence of self can be, and has been, proven.
David Hume proposed the Bundle Theory of Self. Hume believed that knowledge was strictly obtained through one’s senses and experiences. These senses are composed of the fives senses; touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, and tasting. He also proposed the idea of introspection, which is the exploration of one’s own “inside” world. However, Hume said, “All that we find through introspection is a bundle of different perceptions in perpetual flux” (Kolack and Thompson 601). He felt that through introspection you could find an array of thoughts, sensations, memories, and beliefs, but one would find no “self.”
Hume stated, “There are some philosophers, who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our SELF; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity” (Kolack and Thompson 642). He continues to go on a rant about these philosophers and their false perceptions on self and existence. However he feels that he has come to the correct answer. He then goes to write, “Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of self, after the manner it is here explained. For from what impression could this idea be derived?” (Kolack and Thompson 642). Hume felt that these sensations were distractions, making us think we understood “self.”
Hume stated that he often did introspection, and said “I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception” (Kolack and Thompson 643). He felt as though these perceptions faded his ability to actually see what “himself” really was. He said that once these perceptions were removed, such as during sleep, he would become insensible to himself. Furthermore, if he were to die, he would lose all perceptions and still never be able to stumble upon “self.” Through this series of a collection of thoughts, Hume came to the conclusion that there is no evidence that “self” exists at all. Hume said we are merely a changing collection of sensations and ideas.
However, Hume did acknowledge that someone else may have different perceptions than him. He said that if someone else thought that they understood their “self” then, “He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continued, which he calls himself; but I am certain there is no such principle in me” (Kolack and Thompson 643). This shows that Hume felt that some people might see self as something different, but he felt the basic principle does not exist.
Hume then goes on to say, “I may venture to affirm mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement” (Kolack and Thompson 643). Hume is stating that he believes there is no self. Instead, we are a collection or bundle of ideas, and perceptions, and senses.
Next, Hume writes, “The identity, which we ascribe to the mind of man, is only a fictitious one, and of a like kind with that which we ascribe to vegetable and animal bodies. It cannot, therefore, have a different origin, but must proceed from a like operation of the imagination upon like objects” (Kolack and Thompson 643). Here, Hume is saying that the identities that we give everything are false, and part of our imagination. He feels that we tend to look...
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