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

Philosophical Review 124 (4):533-569 (2015)
Authors
Jonathan Cottrell
Wayne State University
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.
Keywords Hume  Mind  Composition  Skepticism  Personal Identity
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-3147021
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