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Hume Paper-How does Hume’s bundle theory of self affect his reasoning regarding personal identity and morality?
Scottish philosopher David Hume stands out in history for his skepticism and devotion to his reasoning, along with his well known disputes of many of his predecessor’s metaphysical speculations. Hume was a self-identified skeptic, a man who always sought concrete evidence. This passion for truth led many to believe he was an atheist, even though he was a firm agnostic. Hume is most well known for his bundle theory of self, a philosophy that insists “the self is only a bundle of impressions and that identity is a mental act, not a property of things.” In short, he believed that we are who we are because we see ourselves as such, not because we actually are. This rigid belief system caused him to have different views on personal identity and morality than other philosophers of his time such as Locke and Berkeley.
Hume believed that personal immortality was a meaningless concept. He argued that you cannot have a persisting self if every time we view ourselves, our perceptions are different. His argument applied to the after life by way that “any change in a thing (such as bodily death) changes its identity.” His bundle theory of self caused Hume to believe that there really was no “self”, simply a collection of perceptions. This caused him to mentally reduce people down to only a list of simple characteristics that were perceptions and perhaps ideas. and he truly believed that we have no persistent self, only a mental laziness that lets us ignore the truth of things. His stance on morals was similar to that of immortality: strictly fact based. He petitioned for the reformation of moral philosophy, rejecting abstract science and pushing for the experimental method to be applied to ethics.
In Hume’s bundle theory of self, we are guided to view our thoughts and perceptions as selves, beings who exist over time and do not change on a day to day basis. Regardless of how we spin our observations, we can never record anything beyond feelings, sensations or impressions, and that is what Hume insists the self is made of. His theory caused him to view personal identity and morality as matter beyond direct control, seeing as we are not actually anything other than a bundle of thoughts and feelings.
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