Editing the Self: David Hume's Narrative Theory

Hume’s ideology of “self” is “...supposedly a substance or thing, simple and invariably the same through time. It is the “home” for all our mental states and activities, the “place” where these characteristics are “located.” (Melchert 451). He also claims that the self is a cluster of perceptions from what we experience throughout our life that give us our identity. “I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are perpetual flux and movement… the mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.

..” (Melchert 452). Hume goes into depth to philosophically prove his claim about what the “self” is and the contributions and paths leading up to what we believe to comprehend in our minds.

If the mind is what defines reality, the reality is only as real as mind.

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The brain is described as a very complicated collection of processed information and perceptions. Hume believes that perceptions are “...by which he means all the contents of our minds when we are awake and alert” (Melchert 443). These perceptions dominate our minds and make us have a strong belief in our true identity.

Perceptions that define our sense of “self” are separated into 2 groups: impressions and ideas. “The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness.

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...impressions; and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul. By the ideas I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning.” (Melchert 443). Hume helped create a pathway to a certain level of consciousness about the “self” with his ideology about the perceptions of the mind. He makes sure to acknowledge that there is a major difference between the legitimate ideas we have and the ideas that are illogical and senseless.

People would define the self as as the central sense of a person that is a constantly modernizing psychological establishment based on our own individual life experiences that changes as we experience and learn new things. “the idea, the memory, the conclusion, the experience, the various forms of namable and unnamable intentions, the conscious endeavor to be or not to be, the accumulated memory of the unconscious, the racial, the group, the individual, the clan, and the whole of it all, whether it is projected outwardly in action, or projected spiritually as virtue; the striving after all this is the self.” (Anonymous).

David Hume was known for his ideas of cynicism and empiricism. Hume considers impressions to be a fundamental unit and starting point of our knowledge. And claims that you are the same person today as you were when you were younger, even when you’ve matured and grown characteristically. “Your self is what is supposed to account for the fact that you are one and the same person today as you were at the age of four, even though nearly all of your characteristics have changed over the years… your interests and activities are remarkably different. Yet you are the same self.” (Melchert 451). No matter how much you’ve changed, you’re still the same person.

The idea of self is a realization and satisfaction of our own being. “The term “self is supposed to represent an idea of something that continues unchanged throughout a person’s life. ... Hume claims, “constant and invariable” through life.” (Melchert 452). In your state of consciousness, there is a sense of ‘self’ or ‘I’. There is still a sense of identity, even if this sense may be different to that of normal consciousness. Comprehending the way we are holistically is what can help us ensure our true identity.

Hume’s philosophical sense of what we might call the self is the constant shifting of impressions from the world we live in, which disappears when we sleep. There is only an illusion of what we call our learnings and experiences, which makes us all believe that there is a self. “I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception. When my perceptions are remov’d for anytime, as by a sound sleep; so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist.” (Melchert 452). Once we become insensible to ourselves, according to Hume, we must not exist. We have the strong belief we are some sort of consolidated perceiver and decision-maker, remaining constant across time, existing inside our bodies, but the idea and perceptions we would have of our “self” doesn’t exist once we are asleep.

Hume would describe human beings as having the tendency to think of ourselves as people that have stable essence existing over time and that we all develop our sense of “self” through our interactions with the world, but if the so called “self” were to be disconnected from the mind and body, they would not be able to be sensible or analyze concepts that are normally processed in our everyday lives. People would ultimately become an essence with no objective. Hume successfully described the ideology of “self” and conceptually included that there can be more than one side to his own philosophical claim.

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
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Editing the Self: David Hume's Narrative Theory. (2021, Feb 04). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/editing-the-self-david-hume-s-narrative-theory-essay

Editing the Self: David Hume's Narrative Theory essay
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