In the Appendix to the Treatise Hume famously rejects his account of personal identity. His ‘hopes vanish’. He doesn’t give up his psychological account of how we come to believe in the ‘fiction’ of a persisting self. The problem is more serious. A philosophy according to which the only legitimate notion of the mind is the notion of an unconnected series of ontologically distinct perceptions can’t make explanatory use of what Hume calls the ‘principles of the association of ideas’ in the way that he does. This is a catastrophe for Hume, because the principles of the association of ideas are the fundamental tools of his philosophy. He thinks he has presupposed something that he cannot possibly appeal to given his own empiricist principles. In effect, he has no adequate reply to the objection that his account depends on the idea that the mind is either a persisting single individual substance or at least something that involves observable ‘real connexion’. Neither of these notions is available to him.
Keywords: principles of the association of ideas, personal identity, subject of experience, self, real connexion, my hopes vanish, bundle theory of mind, Humean fiction, Humean imagination, empiricism
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