Uncategorized

Kant, Hume, and the Self

Hume said there was no self — it was just a congeries of experiences.  He also denied that there were any necessary links between experiences.  According to Hume we can’t know that boiling water makes an egg hard-boiled — all we know is that those ideas have been associated in the past.

Kant tried to prove that there was a necessary link among experiences and that causal laws were reliable. He did so by the transcendental deduction of the categories.  Basically this says that all my perceptions have to be in principle combinable into a single consciousness — , and for them to be so combinable, they have to have an orderly connection.

But are they in principle combinable into a single consciousness?  Not if they are just a congeries of experiences, as Hume thought.

I wonder if you could run Kant’s argument the other way.  The world is an inter-connected whole.  Therefore since I am at the center of my world, I must have at least the same degree of unity as the world has.

Standard

5 thoughts on “Kant, Hume, and the Self

  1. Matt Leibowitz says:

    There once was a thinker Descartes
    Who made a very great fart.
    While speaking to Hume,
    He produced such a fume,
    That both their eyes did smart.*

    *(It is more than likely that since Descartes and Hume were not contemporaries, no flatulence of Descartes’ could have directly caused Hume any discomfort).

  2. Matt Leibowitz says:

    Not to mention that there was not any direct link between the anally expelled gas and the water welling up in their eyes.

    • Oh sad day
      When we smell
      The contents of another man’s bowels
      Wafting to our nose
      On a summer breeze
      Without benefit of being inside said samurai’s
      Odorous ass
      -Lady Genji

  3. Mike W says:

    I think Kant’s insight was that merely being able to observe a coherent empirical world requires a unified consciousness. And that coherence is not an optional feature our minds can add to a pre-existing empirical world that simply happens to lack coherence. So if the mind were a string of unrelated perceptions, it would not be a mind.
    Or maybe I’m wrong … my experience of reading Kant was that often I felt I understood him, even as my idea of what I understood was slipping away from me. Much like Hume’s view of perception, in fact.

  4. Sean F says:

    “I wonder if you could run Kant’s argument the other way. The world is an inter-connected whole. Therefore since I am at the center of my world, I must have at least the same degree of unity as the world has.”

    Reminds me of what Spinoza seems to be getting at in the Ethics. Except for him the the intellect’s perception can be (often is) fragmented by inadequate ideas, so that we need to sort out the confusions of our ideas for our unity to become obvious.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s