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Personal Identity and the Passions JANE L. McINTYRE 1. INTRODUCTION" HUME'S DISTINCTION CONCERNING PERSONAL IDENTITY In two places in the discussion of personal identity in Book 1 of the Treatise, Hume distinguishes personal identity "as it regards our thought or imagination " from personal identity "as it regards our passions."' Only the former is discussed in Book l, and although the self and its passions are the subject of Book 2 of the Treatise, there is no explicit examination of personal identity as it regards the passions. This paper will argue that there isjustification for taking Hume's avowed limitation of his analysis seriously. If we do so, it follows that Hume recognized issues about personal identity that he did not attempt to address within the confines of the account of the imagination in Book 1. And, further, Book 2 of the Treatise, in its account of the passions, provides the resources for supplementing our understanding of Hume's discussion of personal identity. A. Textual Considerations To begin with, it is necessary to recount some of the important features of the argument in Treatise 1.4.6. If Hume employed the distinction he alludes to, we should be able to establish the respective domains of the imagination and the passions in connection with personal identity. Hume rejects the view of "some philosophers" who hold that we are every moment conscious of a simple self David Hume, A Treatiseof Human Nature, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, 2nd ed. edited by P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), ~5S and 261. All references to the Treatiseare to this edition, and where possible will be given in the body of the paper. The following editions of Hume's works will also be cited in the text: EnquiriesConcerningHuman Understandingand Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, 3rd ed. edited by P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975); Philosophical Works, ed. Green and Grose (1882; reprint, Darmstadt: Scientia Verlag Aalen, 1964). [545] 546 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 27:4 OCTOBER 1989 that remains the same through time. Introspection reveals no impression that could ground such an idea. Hume states: "But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, 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 in a perpetual flux and movement" (T 252). And slightly later he says of the mind: "There is properly no simplicity in it at one time, nor identity in different; whatever natural propension we may have to imagine that simplicity and identity" (T 253). It is at this point that Hume first introduces his distinction concerning personal identity. He asks: "What then gives us so great a propension to ascribe an identity to these successive perceptions, and to suppose ourselves possest of an invariable and uninterrupted existence thro' the whole course of our lives? In order to answer this question, we must distinguish betwixt personal identity as it regards our thought or imagination, and as it regards the passions or concern we take in ourselves. The first is our present subject..." (T 253). Book 1 thus focuses on the attempt to explain why we attribute identity, a notion we understand as involving unchanging perceptions, to the self, which is in "perpetual flux." Hume's explanation recapitulates arguments found in Book 1, Part 4, Sections 9 and 3- The imagination associates ideas according to the relation of resemblance. Not only do individual ideas resemble each other, series of ideas may give rise to resembling feelings, and these feelings can be associated. In particular, the perception of an invariable object and that of a related series place the mind in similar dispositions. The idea of identity is thereby associated with the experience of a related sequence of perceptions, and we mistakenly attribute the former to the latter. This natural propensity to confound identity and related succession prompts the mind to "feign some new and unintelligible principle, that connects the objects together" (T 954). Hume therefore takes the belief that we remain the same through time to be mistaken when we attempt to read...