CFS Lecture by Udo Thiel: "Hume on Consciousness and the Self "

Lecture by Udo Thiel, Karl-Franzens Universität Graz, Austria

Hume on Consciousness and the Self

Hume variously makes use of the notion of consciounsness in his wrtitings. But what is his notion of consciousness? Not much has been written on this important question. The problem is that there is no section or chapter on the topic in Hume, indeed no discussion at all of consciousness. Hume applies a certain conception of consciousness in his discussion of personal identity and elsewhere without, however, explaining it in any detail. This talk examines Hume’s notion of consciousness and its relation to other accounts of consciousness of the time. In particular we shall look at how Hume’s understanding of consciousness affects his account of the self or mind. Hume states, that “consciousness is nothing but a reflected thought or perception” and that “consciousness never deceives”. Does this mean that the mind or self is what it is perceived to be, namely a bundle of perceptions, as some scholars have claimed? Does Hume think that there is no more to the self than what consciousness understood as “reflected thought or perception” reveals?