The Enlightenment Period

David Hume

What is the big problem with Hume’s reduction of the self to perceptions?

Overall, Hume saw the mind as a kind of theater stage, across which ideas pass, with each idea a separate “existence” of sense or logical relation. He did not address the implied question of whom the audience is that has access to this theater. What he was looking for and failed to find was an object of reflection that could in a unitary, distinct way, justify the term “self.” He was not looking for the “reflecter,” or the “I” in search of its “self.” He simply assumed that this reflecter was not the self he was looking for when one enters “most intimately into what I call myself.” Another way of putting this is that Hume’s analysis of the self cannot account for that process of analysis (of reflecting on one’s own ideas). Hume did not take into account the fact that he was reflecting, and that the thing he was that was reflecting is what is meant by the word “self.”


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