Mind, Self, and Person

Galen Strawson

in The Evident Connexion

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608508
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729591 | DOI:
Mind, Self, and Person

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Hume famously claims that ‘When I enter most intimately into what I call myself I always stumble on some particular perception.…I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception’. His claim about ordinary ‘introspection’ is very accurate, phenomenologically speaking. He concludes that we have no empirically respectable evidence for the existence of a subject of experience that lasts longer than a single experience or ‘perception’ and is in addition ontologically distinct from it; and that we cannot, as philosophers aiming to making knowledge claims about reality, legitimately use the word ‘mind’ or ‘self’ to mean any such persisting thing, but only a succession of ontologically distinct (but necessarily-subject-involving) perceptions. At the same time, he doesn’t hold that this is all the mind actually is. His sceptical realist position is that ‘essence of the mind [is] unknown’ (Treatise, Introduction §8). Above all, he never denies the existence of a self or subject of experience, as the ‘no-ownership’ theorists have supposed.

Keywords: Hume; personal identity; self; self-awareness; subject of experience; bundle theory of mind; no-ownership; Humean perception; phenomenology; introspection; no-ownership

Chapter.  29018 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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