Sample Paper on Philosophical view on Impression, Ideas and Self-Identity

In his book, “A Treatise of Human Nature”, philosopher Hume tries to differentiate between two things that the human mind perceives to be identical; that is the impression and ideas. He describes impressions, as vigorous and active feelings that involve the way enthusiasm and emotions appear first in our souls (Wright and John, 153). Whiles he describes ideas as less active and less vigorous than impressions. Further, he argues that when an idea is compound it is easy for one to drawback to the eventual clear impression. He elaborates it by giving an example that one would have a faded image of a tree only from what he perceives of a tree initially.

It is true to state that impressions and ideas are similar and only vary with the degree of activeness since impressions relate to how one feels about what they see and these translate to ideas of what we do not experience. Therefore, ideas are less involving and only rely on what we feel from daily events and experiences.

Hume also has some views on how people see their identity. He explains that one may have fixed ideas and impressions about their self as time changes, but he rejects that one can describe personal identity from the memory theory. He further argues that there is no idea of self since his perceptions on self-description keep on changing with time. He asks, “Should we base our self-identity on the daily impressions such as pain, excitement, sorrow and other feelings that keep changing?” He concludes that the idea of personal identity varies with the change in one’s feelings. Hume compares the mind with where different events happen, and so are our minds, the perception we have about ourselves changes with different events (Wright and John, 158). Therefore, one cannot associate the identity with things that do not change yet our lives experience changing events.

One would disagree with Hume that the fact that our feelings vary with time would change our self- identity. Even though our passions and sensations change with time, the inner person status does not alter the ideas that one has about perceptions in life.

Hume tries to distinguish between the similarity of compound ideas and simple impressions. In his argument, he states that not all complex ideas have impressions that relate to them, and most of our compound impressions are not exactly duplicated in ideas. He strengthens by asking if one can describe the ideas of the promised Jerusalem with gold pavements, even though one has never seen it with the impression of a Paris they have seen (Wright and John, 207).

In this regard, one agrees with Hume’s argument since one cannot only have an exact correspondence of what they see to what they only have an idea of and have never observed. Therefore, it is right to say that there is a difference in the simplicity and complexity of ideas and impressions.


Work Cited

Wright, John P. Hume’s ‘a Treatise of Human Nature’: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.