Hume pp 75-88 | Cite as

The Self

  • Terence Penelhum
Part of the Philosophers in Perspective book series (PHPE)


Hume’s views on personal identity have not only left his readers dissatisfied. They failed to satisfy Hume himself. The very arguments that Hume has used to explain how we come to believe that causes necessitate their effects, or to believe that we perceive distinct and continuing objects, require him to ascribe certain habitual tendencies and purposes to the human mind; he says that we follow these tendencies, and subscribe to these purposes, to consolidate those natural beliefs about our perceived environment which would otherwise fall before the attacks of the philosophical sceptic. When he turns to examine our belief in the continuing identity of the mind itself, however, he finds it to be as vulnerable to sceptical attacks as our belief in the distinct and continued existence of material objects. But to represent our belief in the continued existence of ourselves as the product of self-deceiving fictions looks, on the face of it, like assuming and denying the belief at one and the same time. The dissatisfactions that Hume and his readers have felt have been deepened by the sense that they concern the viability of his whole epistemological procedure.


Personal Identity Continue Existence Numerical Identity Mental History Real Bond 
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Copyright information

© Terence Penelhum 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terence Penelhum
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CalgaryCanada

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