Hume’s Idea of the Self

20 May

Hume’s theory about the disappearing self refers to its constant changeable nature. The self by Hume is ‘a bundle of perceptions’. My interpretation of the self is similar to Hume’s in some ways and different in others. In my opinion, the self is made up of a few components each one being different. The self is mostly learned habit that one gains from ideas acquired from the outside world. The only reason the self remains the same is from a few parts of it that remain the same. A few parts are changeable perceptions and another few parts are continuums.

Hume’s definition of the self denies any continuum within it. To him the self is a collected myriad of ideas and viewpoints. These ideas and viewpoints change as one grows older. This collection of ideas and viewpoints together change all the time and any substance resembling a continuum is not really present. Usually each person’s self contains similar or same ideas and viewpoints and Hume responds to this problem by saying that each person’s self components are connected to each other in certain ways making each individual self unique. Hume also explains the self as being ‘disappearing’. When we sleep, die or become unconscious in any way Hume says that the self becomes virtually nonexistent because when this unconsciousness occurs the complex myriad of ideas and viewpoints that are connected in a certain way are in no use. My opinion about Hume’s disappearing self is for the most part wrong. The only time our self is no longer in use is when we die. All that is left after death is the soul and the self is essentially not a part of the soul. The self is a different entity. When we die, the self is no longer in use and in that way Hume was right. When we sleep or become unconscious in another way besides death, the self is still in use. During sleep and unconsciousness we see things in our head that are a part of the world we have seen for real. The complex combination of viewpoints and ideas are in use when we dream and with that, the self is in use and with that the self does not disappear. The self only disappears once.

The two conditions creating the boundaries for what a person can become do not explain the wide variety of things one can become. The two things stated being law and circumstances does not cover all the other things that factor into what a person becomes. Circumstance covers a lot but law being broken often does not describe very well the things that one can become. The idea of a supreme deity should be factored into what one can become because in my opinion this is the most important thing in what a person becomes. From seeing others I have understood how the idea of a supreme deity can affect one’s life.

Selfishness is a totally different spectrum of ideas and actions than is Hume’s self love. Self love can be described as a way of restraining the self less. The self not being governed by ‘casual laws’ is freedom. Self love is free liberty of the person to do what is desired. Selfishness is on a totally higher level than self love. Selfishness is the self practicing way more than self liberty by possibly hurting others. Egotism is not self love because egotism is seeing yourself as better than any other person. Self love is just exercising free liberty and doing what one wants without hurting others. It is almost like self esteem on a normal level. Self esteem being enormously high is egotism.

In a way the self can be described as a continuum in that the self is always imposed by perceptions. The self takes in so many perceptions that it becomes a complex form of ideas and viewpoints that are related in a certain way. By saying that the self is a continuum by always taking in perceptions and ideas, it can be considered enduring.  In the view that there are some parts of the self enduring and some changing, there is an enduring self because there is a deep part within each person that remains the same and claims that person’s identity. In another way, the self is always changing because as Melchert explained, the person grows and changes drastically as going from child to adult and in that way the self changes. With the fact that the self always takes in ideas and viewpoints changing the person’s opinions and ideas, the self changes. To summarize this, there is an enduring self and there is a changing self. Even though there are changes, the enduring self usually remains strongest.


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