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Comparing Thomas Reid And David Hume On The Topic Of The Mind Body Problem

851 words - 3 pages

Is there an "I", or a "self"? What exactly does this "self" refer to? These are questions raised by personal identity that many philosophers have attempted to answer. Most people would probably believe that they have a self, but there are people and philosophers that think differently. One such philosopher opposed to the idea of a self is David Hume. On the other side of the argument, Thomas Reid, another philosopher, believed that there is something called the self. According to his argument, we are able to accept that there is a permanent self through the phenomenon of memory.Thomas Reid was a "common sense" philosopher. He looked at personal identity on a very simple level, and believed that he must have a self because he can remember; he has a memory. To Reid, memory was a notion of a subject. He said:I remember that twenty years ago, I conversed with such a person; I remember several things that passed in that conversation; my memory testifies not only that this was done, but that it was done by me who now remember it. If it was done by me, I must have existed at that time, and continued to exist from that time to the present.(240)The key to identity is the relationship between something existing now and something that did exist in the past. Identity is the "uninterrupted continuance of existence". The person, Reid argued, is indivisible; it cannot be broken down into parts. If someone were to steal someone's car, or cut off an arm, that person's self would not be altered. He or she would still be the same person, with the same personality. Therefore, with his positions of identity and the person, personal identity is "the continued existence of the indivisible thing which I call myself".There are two types of identity: perfect and imperfect identity. Personal identity is perfect identity, in that it is exactly the same over time, and never changes. Imperfect identity is that of anything physical. Anything physical is always changing in some way, even if it is a minimal change over a long period of time.David Hume delivered the strongest argument against Thomas Reid. If Hume were to place the self in Reid's perfect or imperfect identity, he would choose the latter of the two. According to Hume, there is nothing that has perfect identity; everything is constantly changing. The body and mind are different from day to day, as is everything else. There is no impression of the self that is...

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