Minds, Composition, and Hume's Skepticism in the Appendix

Philosophical Review 124 (4):533-569 (2015)
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Abstract

This essay gives a new interpretation of Hume's second thoughts about minds in the Appendix, based on a new interpretation of his view of composition. In Book 1 of the Treatise, Hume argued that, as far as we can conceive it, a mind is a whole composed by all its perceptions. But—this essay argues—he also held that several perceptions form a whole only if the mind to which they belong supplies a “connexion” among them. In order to do so, it must contain a further perception or perceptions. But when the perceptions in question are all of those belonging to a given mind—as in the section “Of personal identity” and the Appendix—there cannot be a further perception in that mind, and so those perceptions do not form a whole. Hence, Hume's views were inconsistent. This essay argues that, unlike most others, this interpretation explains his retreat to skepticism in the Appendix.

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Author's Profile

Jonathan Cottrell
University of Edinburgh

Citations of this work

Fiction and Content in Hume’s Labyrinth.Bridger Ehli - 2024 - Philosophical Quarterly 74 (1):187-207.
Knowledge and Sensory Knowledge in Hume's Treatise.Graham Clay - 2021 - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 10:195-229.
Hume's Incredible Demonstrations.Graham Clay - 2022 - Hume Studies 47 (1):55-77.

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References found in this work

A treatise of human nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1977 - New York: Dutton. Edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge & P. H. Nidditch.
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1969 - Mineola, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Material Beings.Peter Van Inwagen - 1990 - Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.

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