In this paper, I return to the well-known apparent inconsistencies in Hume’s treatment of personal identity in the three books of A Treatise of Human Nature, and try to defend a Humean narrative interpretation of the self. I argue that in Book 1 of the Treatise Hume is answering (to use Marya Schechtman’s expressions in The Constitution of Selves) a “reidentification” question concerning personal identity, which is different from the “characterization” question of Books 2 and 3. That is, I maintain that whereas in Book 1 Hume is using his philosophical empiricism to provide his own version of the problem of how to recognize persons as the same at different times, in Books 2 and 3 he is presenting selves from a different, both sentimental and ethical standpoint, as the focus of people’s concerns. I start by discussing Hume’s notion of personal identity as presented in Book 1 and in the “Appendix.” I then specify the narrative conception of the self Hume relies on when dealing with passions and morality as the self-consciousness persons develop as bearers of characters of or about which they can be morally proud or humble. I finally conclude by distinguishing Hume’s narrative self from the idea of “the unity of human life” that Alasdair MacIntyre puts forward in After Virtue.

The Self as Narrative in Hume

GRECO L
2015

Abstract

In this paper, I return to the well-known apparent inconsistencies in Hume’s treatment of personal identity in the three books of A Treatise of Human Nature, and try to defend a Humean narrative interpretation of the self. I argue that in Book 1 of the Treatise Hume is answering (to use Marya Schechtman’s expressions in The Constitution of Selves) a “reidentification” question concerning personal identity, which is different from the “characterization” question of Books 2 and 3. That is, I maintain that whereas in Book 1 Hume is using his philosophical empiricism to provide his own version of the problem of how to recognize persons as the same at different times, in Books 2 and 3 he is presenting selves from a different, both sentimental and ethical standpoint, as the focus of people’s concerns. I start by discussing Hume’s notion of personal identity as presented in Book 1 and in the “Appendix.” I then specify the narrative conception of the self Hume relies on when dealing with passions and morality as the self-consciousness persons develop as bearers of characters of or about which they can be morally proud or humble. I finally conclude by distinguishing Hume’s narrative self from the idea of “the unity of human life” that Alasdair MacIntyre puts forward in After Virtue.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/153226
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