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bundle theory of mind

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of mind A theory associated with Hume . After contemplating the difficulties of Cartesian dualism, Hume rejected the existence of an enduring, substantial self that remains the same throughout one's life. We cannot discern any continuing spiritual principle within ourselves. All one can observe is a sequence or a bundle of experiences occurring in succession from birth to death. The mind is nothing more than a bundle of perceptions. It is a theater in which different perceptions successively make their appearance. Since perceptions or impressions cannot endure, there cannot be an enduring self. Only because there is resemblance, contiguity, and regularity in the bundle of perceptions, do we attribute a self or an identity to ourselves, but this is a customary association of ideas rather than a real connection among perceptions. The position is popular among empirical philosophers, and is also called the serial theory (because it claims that the self is a series of experiences), the associationist theory, or the logical construction theory. Since the mind is a succession of non-physical items distinct from the body, this theory also implies a kind of dualism that is called bundle dualism. The theory contrasts with the pure ego theory. Hume not only proposed the bundle theory, but also saw grave difficulties in it. “I may venture to affirm of the rest of mankind, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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