Persons and Passions in Hume’s Philosophy of Mind

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Philosophy of Mind in the Early Modern and Modern Ages

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Book Chapter

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The chapter outlines the major elements of David Hume’s philosophy of mind: the cognitive faculties of the senses, memory, imagination, reason, and the will, all of which are governed by the three main principles of human nature: the copy principle, the separability principle, and the principles of association. Hume applies the copy principle to various topics such as abstract ideas, space, time, causality, substance, external world, and personhood. In memory, the ideas may reappear with a degree of vividness that is intermediate between the vividness of an impression and the faintness of an idea. The imagination is free to combine ideas as it pleases, but it is generally guided by three principles of association by which one idea naturally introduces another. Hume’s cognitive psychology about the interaction between the imagination and the passions of pride and humility has the resources to provide a potential resolution to the problem of the unity of consciousness.

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