In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

David Hume on Personal Identity and the Indirect Passions Robert S. Henderson Scholarly reflection on Hume's "doctrine" ofselfand personal identity continues to focus on the sections "Of Personal Identity" and the "Appendix" toA Treatise ofHuman Nature. To answer the question of why we have so great a propension to ascribe an identity to these successiveperceptions which make up experience, Hume says that we must distinguish betwixtpersonal identity, as it regards our thought or imagination, and as it regards our passions or the concern we take in ourselves. He considers only the former in these sections. Towards the end of the personal identity section he writes that our identity with regard to the passions serves to corroborate that with regard to the imagination, by the making our distant perceptions influence each other, and by giving us a present concern for ourpast or future pains or pleasures (T 261). In the advertisement to the Treatise Hume says that the subjects of the understanding and passions make a compleat chain of reasoning by themselves (T xii). In light of the importance Hume attaches to the distinction, and since there are many indications that the Treatise should be read as an integral whole, it is surprising that so little attention is given to what he says of personal identity in the other books. As the title suggests, this paper concentrates on the second part of the distinction and especially on the discussion ofthe indirectpassions in Book II of the Treatise. This is not to suggest that self does not play an important role elsewhere in Hume's science ofman; for example, it is selfwhich experiences the impression ofwill and the direct passions. However, the indirect passions have a particularly important part to play in ascriptions of personal identity and this justifies the present investigation. II We can safely predict that personal identity as it regards our passions will not be the idea ??some philosophers whose views of self as having the philosophical (strict) relation ofidentity Hume has rejected in "Of Personal Identity." The relationship between thought and passion to which he draws attention suggests that the idea of selfin this context has a relation to the positive suggestions in that earlier section of why Volume XVI Number 1 33 ROBERT S. HENDERSON we do speak meaningfully of the identity of the self. We are able so to speak because ofarelationship which is felt to exist between a person's distinct and changing perceptions. The relationship has to do with the discovery by memory of the connection of a person's perceptions through the association ofideas by resemblance and causation (T 261). Examination of the idea of self to which Hume makes frequent reference in Book II requires some review ofthe method ofthe Treatise. Perceptions make up human experience. Perceptions are either impressions or ideas which derive from impressions. Hume describes the indirect passions as secondary or reflective impressions and these stem from original impressions or from their ideas. He distinguishes between direct andindirect passions. Directpassionsarise immediately fromgood or evil, frompain orpleasure (T 276). Examples are joy, hope and fear. Indirect passionsproceed from the same principles, but by the conjunction ofother qualities (T 276). That is, the indirect passions not onlyhave a cause (an impression which excites them), but also an object (to which the passion directs our view when excited). We shall see that a significant quality of the indirect passions is the relation of these impressions to their objects, which are either one's own or another's self. In Book II of the Treatise Hume examines the indirect passions: love, hate, pride and humility. These passions are evaluations of persons; of selfin the case of pride and humility, and of another in the case of love and hatred. Evaluation of persons is a central feature of Hume's moral philosophy: To have the sense ofvirtue, is nothing but to feel a satisfaction of a particular kind from the contemplation of a character. The very feeling constitutes our praise or admiration (T 471). We shall see that the indirect passions in particular make an important contribution to the answer ofHume's original question ofthe source ?? owe propension to ascribe an identity. Ill...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 33-44
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.