Hume proposes that the self is simply a collection of perceptions, like links in a chain. Hume contends that our idea of the self stems from our inherent tendency to attribute unified existence to any group of linked elements. This is a natural belief, yet it lacks logical justification. For example, we think of a chair as having certain properties (such as being capable of supporting weight), but actually all that exists of a chair are some molecules arranged in a particular way. With respect to the self, all that exists at any given moment is a collection of perceptions, so how can these be said to have any kind of unifying nature? Hume argues that there is no reason to believe that the self has any more existence than any other collection of sensations or ideas.
He also claims that there is no reason to believe that the self is immaterial. He notes that we experience nothing but sensation, and therefore cannot say anything about the materiality of the self. He concludes that since we have no reason to believe that the self has any special nature, we should merely assume that it is like every other phenomenon-a collection of phenomena. In other words, there is no reason to believe that the self is immortal, so we should not make this assumption.
Finally, he denies that we ever truly know anything for sure. Even though we may seem to know something about the world around us, we can never be completely sure unless we examine each case individually.
Hume proposes that the self is "nothing more than a bundle or collection of diverse sensations, which succeed one other with incomprehensible rapidity and are in constant flux and movement." Hume compares the mind to a theater, where we may see perceptions and experiences as scenery and performers. He then goes on to say that all this is nothing more than an "illusion," since it has no substance of its own and lasts only as long as it appears to us.
This is because all perception is relative - it depends on the person perceiving it. One person's view of reality is going to be different from another's. This is why scientists cannot agree on what exactly happens during sleep - each person sees such different things in their dreams that no single interpretation makes sense for everyone.
As for the self, it is an illusion created by repeated sensations. When we experience a series of sensations over time, we assume there is a real thing out there called the self who is experiencing them. However, there is no evidence to support this assumption. There is only consciousness - everything else is speculation.
Hume believes that because it is difficult to find a sufficient impression that may give rise to the notion of the self, we must conclude that such an idea does not exist. The self (or, maybe, the mind) does not have a continuous existence. It comes into being when certain events occur together and disappears after some time.
Hume uses two arguments to support his claim. The first one is what he calls the argument from memory: if we remember having done or said something then this proves that there was once a moment when we had these memories... But this doesn't prove that there is a self which remembers! Maybe I just think there is a self because I remember doing things?
The second argument is called the argument from personal identity. It goes like this: since all human beings are always identical in weight, age, and so on, then they must be the same person at all times. But this doesn't mean that there is a self which is always the same person. All humans change over time with new experiences. So, there can be no proof that there is a self by using only examples of human beings.
These two arguments show that we cannot prove that there is a self but they don't tell us anything about what kind of thing it is. Is it a material object that exists apart from other objects?
(3) Hume argues that the general belief in personal identity is a function of human nature, and that the conviction is a result of imagination rather than sense or reason. As a result, there is no reason to believe in personal identity.
-- David Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature, 1739-1740
Personal identity is the concept that individuals continue to exist even after their death. It is a central issue in ethics and aesthetics as well as many other disciplines. The Scottish philosopher David Hume is known for his argument that we naturally assume personal identity but there is no good reason for this belief. In his work Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Morals (1748), he says: "The natural inference we make from the continued existence of any object which has once been perceived by our senses or thought by our minds is that of its future existence; and this conclusion is strictly universal...But why should we conclude or suppose that this present object will exist after our decease?"
Hume's argument against personal identity involves two steps. First, he points out that we think it likely that people continue to exist after they die because this idea is useful. If someone's body was never found, for example, it would be hard to claim ownership of some property they had when they died.