more from David Hume

Single Idea 21294

[catalogued under 16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 4. Denial of the Self]

Full Idea

If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But there is no impression constant and invariable.

Gist of Idea

A continuous lifelong self must be justified by a single sustained impression, which we don't have


David Hume (Treatise of Human Nature [1739], I.IV.6)

Book Reference

Hume,David: 'A Treatise of Human Nature', ed/tr. Selby-Bigge/Nidditch [OUP 1978], p.251

A Reaction

This is a rather dogmatic application of the requirement that all knowledge must be founded in experience. It fails to recognise that knowledge of the thing having the experiences is a rather special case. We must ask for the best explanation.