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Individuality as feeling: From David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature


This example comes from David Hume, a famous philosopher of the eighteenth century, and was very important for the development of philosophy. Hume realised that


When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I can never catch myself at any time without a perception, and can never observe anything but the perception. (A Treatise of Human Nature. London: Penguin, 1969, 301)


We can see in this excerpt that Hume can never find himself because what he gets a grip on is outer nature as it affects him - he perceives “heat or cold, light or shade” – or his inner nature as it arises within him – “love or hatred, pain or pleasure”. What Hume was saying was not precisely this, but for the present purposes we can say that a strong alliance between nature and individuality is presupposed in this passage. Such an alliance is partly true because it is an experience that I am what I feel and what I feel is right. Such an alliance forms a powerful stereotype of our contemporary culture which tends to repeat itself in text after text.

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann