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HUME'S BUNDLES, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS AND KANT Even if we are inclined to view Hume's attempt to explain ascriptions of personal identity as an abysmal failure, we might still be sympathetic toward his proposal to replace the going substance theory of the nature of mind with his bundle account. Thus we might fault Hume for erecting an unachievably high standard for personal identity, or round on him for excluding bodily criteria 2 ... from his solution, but nonetheless applaud his spiriting away of the Cartesian soul substance leaving his "true idea of the human mind" (261) as a collection of perceptions in its stead. However, Hume's concern to give an account of the idea of the unity of a human mind in terms of related perceptions has run into notoriously rough sledding, not the least of which is the fact that Hume himself in his Appendix to "Of Personal Identity" seems to abandon his bundle theory in despair. In this paper I shall first be concerned to examine the criticism of his bundle theory which Hume brings forth in the Appendix and explain why I think the core difficulty remains insoluble for Hume. I shall then go on to suggest that the unworkability of Húmete bundle theory is directly tied to his failure to appreciate certain features of the peculiarly first person nature of his question about the make-up of minds. In thus emphasizing the place of the first person voice in my interpretation I am stealing a leaf, if not a chapter, from Kant. But this is as it should be since one of the aims of this essay is to provide an interpretation of Hume's difficulties with his account of the nature of mind which explains part of the reason why 'self-consciousness' (or 'apperception') looms so very large in the Critique of Pure Reason attack upon Hume's type of bundle theory. 60. 1. Hume's Second Thoughts In a burst of self criticism at the Appendix to the section on personal identity, Hume brings forth this objection to his own efforts: . . .Having thus loosen' d all our particular perceptions, when I proceed to explain the principle of connexion, which binds them together, and makes us attribute to them a real simplicity and identity; I am sensible, that my account is very defective, and that nothing but the seeming evidence of the precedent reasonings cou'd have indue' d me to receive it (635). After additional reflections Hume encapsulates his objection thus: ...All my hopes vanish, when I come to explain the principles, that unite our successive perceptions in our thought or consciousness (6SS-6). What is the defect Hume calls to our attention? Notice first that the footnote on page 635 explicitly refers us back to that part of his account Hume considers defective; and when we look back to the text of the Treatise in question, page 260, we find it is precisely there that Hume uses the analogy of a republic to sketch his bundle theory of the unity of mind in terms of the two associative principles, resemblance and causation. So it must somehow be that this account in terms of the associative principles is mistaken. But what then is the mistake? According to Hume it is that he cannot 'explain' the principles which unite the discrete percepts. Now it seems to me there are only two possible things Hume could mean in saying this. He could mean either (1) that the principles which connect the percepts of one mind are instances of the associative principles, but he cannot explain them; or (2) there must be other, non-associative , principles which connect the percepts of a single mind and these he cannot explain. 61. I think we can safely conclude (1) cannot represent Hume's misgivings when he says he is unable to explain the uniting principles of the mental bundles. There is first the fact that he does not call into question his general programme of accounting for the nature of the unity of complex things by the principles of causation, resemblance and contiguity — for example, ships, plants, animals, houses and rivers (e.g. 257f) — but only his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 59-75
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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