Hume And Self Existance
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The modern philosopher, David Hume, argued that the proof of self existence was not possible. Hume stated, Ð²Ð‚ÑšIf 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 mannerÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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 oneÐ²Ð‚™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 oneÐ²Ð‚™s own Ð²Ð‚ÑšinsideÐ²Ð‚Ñœ world. However, Hume said, Ð²Ð‚ÑšAll that we find through introspection is a bundle of different perceptions in perpetual fluxÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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 Ð²Ð‚Ñšself.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ
Hume stated, Ð²Ð‚ÑšThere 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 simplicityÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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, Ð²Ð‚ÑšUnluckily 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?Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Kolack and Thompson 642). Hume felt that these sensations were distractions, making us think we understood Ð²Ð‚Ñšself.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ
Hume stated that he often did introspection, and said Ð²Ð‚ÑšI never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perceptionÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Kolack and Thompson 643). He felt as though these perceptions faded his ability to actually see what Ð²Ð‚ÑšhimselfÐ²Ð‚Ñœ 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 Ð²Ð‚Ñšself.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Through this series of a collection of thoughts, Hume came to the conclusion that there is no evidence that Ð²Ð‚ÑšselfÐ²Ð‚Ñœ 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 Ð²Ð‚ÑšselfÐ²Ð‚Ñœ then, Ð²Ð‚ÑšHe may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continued, which he calls himself; but I am certain there is no such principle in meÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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, Ð²Ð‚ÑšI 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 movementÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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, Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe 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 objectsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (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 at things and examine them in the wrong way. This causes us to examine self in the wrong way as well.
Hume then goes on to state, Ð²Ð‚ÑšTis evident, that the identity, which we attribute to the human kind, however perfect we imagine it to be, is not able to run the several different perceptions into one, and make them lose their characters of distinction and difference, which are essential to themÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Kolack and Thompson 643). This is Hume leading into his final argument on this issue. He is building up to his point. He then goes on to state, Ð²Ð‚ÑšThat is, in other words, whether in pronouncing concerning the identity of a person, we observe some real bond among his perceptions, or only feel one among the ideas we form of them. This question we might easily decide, if we would recollect what has already been proved at large, that the understanding never observes any real connexion among objects, and that even the union of cause and effect, when strictly examined, resolves itself into a customary association of ideasÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Kolack and Thompson 643). In other words, Hume is stating the fact that we just simply do not understand the complexity of things and how they work. We try to simplify everything, but it is not that simple. He is showing that our simple idea of self is wrong, and we can not comprehend what self really means. This is why Hume says another person may think they understand self. Because this person has simplified it down to something that it really is not. Hume thinks this is the thought process humans go through.
Although HumeÐ²Ð‚™s argument may sound somewhat convincing, there are multiple holes in his theory. One must ask, doesnÐ²Ð‚™t there have to be some sort of self or mind or soul that is doing the introspecting? Even if through the introspection one never discovers Ð²Ð‚ÑšselfÐ²Ð‚Ñœ, there must be some sort of thing that is doing the discovering. Furthermore, if everything is just bundles of ideas, who or what is bundling them together? There has to be a system to the bundles, or else one would know everything. And if there is no self, then who do these bundles belong to? If they were everyoneÐ²Ð‚™s bundles of thoughts, then I should know and understand everything that everybody else does.
Most philosophers end with some holes in their theories. However, the holes that are left in HumeÐ²Ð‚™s Bundle Theory are too big to just simply accept. The questions that one is left asking can not be