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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 1, 1975

Norman Melchert
Pages 323-335

Hume's Appendix on Personal Identity

The reasons why Hume expressed dissatisfaction concerning his own account of personal identity in the Treatise are unclear. Hume himself states them obscurely, and commentators have disagreed about what exactly it was that puzzled him. I offer reasons for thinking the sources of Hume’s retraction have not yet been understood, and propose a reading of the text of the Appendix which explains why he was dissatisfied. The key to the proper understanding of this text lies in two insufficiently appreciated facts: (1) that, for Hume, thoughts are perceptions too, and (2) that the unifying of perceptions can only be done by a perception of a higher level.

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