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London Philosophy Club Reading Group

What holds a single mind together - if anything?

This session will further delve into the notion of the self, an area of philosophy in which, according to Galen Strawson, 'problems of communication proliferate like rabbits'.

The first reading is a classic statement on the issue of personal identity by David Hume [masked]). It's in Book I, Part IV of The Treatise of Human Nature. The text is widely and freely available on-line as HTML or PDF, with a clear version on

Hume subsequently retracted his argument, but felt unable to supply a better one - possibly encapsulating much of the problem. The 'retraction' is in the Appendix to The Treatise, both on Gutenberg but also handily on

For those who want to look in more detail at the grounds for the retraction, David Pears (amongst many others) has explored this, both in his 1963 Symposium on Hume, but more recently and in more depth in 'Hume on Personal Identity', Hume Studies, Vol XIX, No. 2, November 1993 (on-line).

The second reading is from our old friend Galen Strawson. 'The Self', Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4 5/6 (1997), freely available on line at the journal's website. This summarises a range of arguments and opens the door to some phenomenological language that might invite us further in .....

He replies to his critics in 'The Self and SESMET' in the same journal in 1999, for those who'd like to pursue him a little more.

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  • bill t.

    thanks for the philosophy bites url John Robinson, very useful

    April 17, 2014

  • John R.

    I've just found a philosophy bites discussion with Galen Strawson on the sense of the self....

    There's an interesting comment on Hume.

    April 17, 2014

  • Pete R.

    Very good discussion. Although it strikes me that one assumption that could be loosened up to develop discussion on the mind body problem is that science gives us access to reality or truth. Kant thought we could only have knowledge of appearances, and subsequent post-Kantian continentals did not hold the scientific realism that is sometimes assumed in the mind-body problem.

    April 16, 2014

  • bill t.

    a very well informed and considerate, kind group allowing a very open discussion based on the chosen texts and the issues raised in them relating to every day understandings of the human condition

    April 16, 2014

    • Godfrey S.

      I agree with Bill's comment. An enjoyable and satisfying discussion with diverse and interesting ideas and perspectives.

      April 16, 2014

  • Sarah S.

    Hiya, unfortunately I now have to work late on Tuesday. Have fun and I look forward to the next discussion!

    April 12, 2014

  • Dmitry

    I regret that I will not able to come 15 April due to the trip. My apologies for not early cancellation. Best wishes to all participants.

    April 9, 2014

  • bill t.

    I thought we just turn up?

    March 21, 2014

  • Johanna


    March 20, 2014

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