Second Thoughts about Second Thoughts
Readers of the Treatise have long been perplexed by the appendix, in which Hume seems to recant his position on personal identity. Hume himself, while expressing some reservations about the arguments he advances in Book I of the Treatise, never rebuts or withdraws any of these arguments; he only doubts their conclusion. Second, he never replaces the account with any other. These facts at best suggest his ambivalence. Moreover, were he to recant these arguments, given the complete consistency in method in the Treatise as a whole, it is not at all clear that he would be entitled to any of the principal arguments or conclusions of the Treatise, inasmuch as all proceed from the same foundations via analogous reasoning. This chapter shows that this volume’s reading of the Treatise allows Hume a reply to his second thoughts, even if it is a reply he himself did not consider.
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