David Hume on personal identity in Books I and II of the "Treatise of Human Nature"

Vinícius França Freitas


I intend to discuss Hume’s theory of the personal identity in Books I and II of the "Treatise of Human Nature". First, I intend to argue that Hume’s distinction between a ‘personal identity with regard to thought and imagination’ and a ‘personal identity with regard to passions and self-interest’ is only methodological, not radical. That is, the philosopher does not suggest the existence of two distinct ideas of personal identity in mind. Secondly, I try to show the contribution of the passions of pride and humility to the production of a belief in personal identity. Pride and humility contribute to the liveliness of this belief by producing the person’s interest in his sensations and actions of the past and the future. Thirdly, I want to show how passions and self-interest make it possible to explain the corporeal aspect of the belief in personal identity. I propose to discuss how the body and its qualities can be understood as constituent elements of the notion of personal identity.

Keywords: personal identity, imagination, passions, mind, body.

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