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is perpetually changing; being nothing but a bundle of perceptions, that fucceed each "other with inconceivable rapidity, and are (as he chufes to exprefs it) in a perpetual "flux*." He might as cafily, in my opinion, and as decifively, with equal credit to his own understanding, and with equal advantage to the reader, by a method of reafoning no lefs philofophical, and with the fame degree of difcretion in the use of words, have attacked the axioms of mathematics, or any other truths intuitive or demonftrable, and produced a formal and ferious confutation of them. In explaining the evidence on which we believe our own identity, it is not neceffary that I fhould here examine his arguments against that belief: first, because the point in queftion is felf-evident; and therefore all reafoning on the other fide unphilofophical and irrational: and, fecondly, becaufe I fhall afterwards prove, that fome of Mr HUME's first principles are inconceivable; and that this very notion of his, concerning identity, when fairly stated, is palpably abfurd.

It has been afked, how we can pretend to have full evidence of our identity, when of identity itself we are fo far from having a diftinct notion, that we cannot define it. It might, with as good reafon be asked, how we come to believe that two and two are e

*Treatife of Human Nature, vol. 1. p. 438. &c.



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qual to four, or that a circle is different from a triangle, if we cannot define either equality or diversity: why we believe in our own existence, fince we cannot define exiftence:—why, in a word, the vulgar believe any thing at all, fince they know nothing about the rules of definition, and hardly ever attempt it. In fact, we have numberlefs ideas that admit not of definition, and yet concerning which we may argue, and believe, and know, with the utmost clearness and certainty. To define heat or cold, identity or diverfity, red or white, an ox or an afs, would puzzle all the logicians on earth; yet nothing can be clearer, or more certain, than many of our judgements concerning thofe objects. The rudeft of the vulgar know most perfectly what they mean, when they fay, Three months ago I was at fuch a town, and have ever fince been at home: and the conviction they have of the truth of this propofition is founded on the best of evidence, namely, on that of internal fenfe; in which all men, by the law of their nature, do and muft implicitly believe.

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It has been asked, whether this continued confciousness of our being always the fame, does not conftitute our famenefs or identity. No more, I fhould anfwer, than our perception of truth, light, or cold, is the efficient caufe of truth, light, or cold. Our identity is perceived by confcioufnefs; but confcioufnefs is as different from identity, as the understanding

derstanding is different from truth, as past events are different from memory, as colours from the power of feeing. of feeing. Consciousness of identity is fo far from conftituting identity, that it prefuppofes it. An animal might continue the fame being, and yet not be confcious of its identity; which is probably the cafe with many of the brute creation; nay, which is often the cafe with man himself. When we fleep without dreaming, or fall into a fainting fit*, or rave in a fever, and often too in our ordinary dreams, we lose all fense of our identity, and yet never conceive that

* The following cafe, which M. Crozaz gave in to the Academy of Sciences, is the most extraordinary instance of interrupted confcioufnefs I have ever heard of. nobleman of Laufanne, as he was giving orders to a fervant, fuddenly loft his fpeech and all his fenfes. Different remedies were tried without effect for fix months; during all which time he appeared to be in a deep fleep, or deliquium, with various fymptoms at different periods, which are particularly specified in the narration. At laft, after fome chirurgical operations, at the end of fix months his fpeech and fenfes were fuddenly reftored. When he recovered, the fervant to whom he had been giving orders when he was first seized with the diftemper, happening to be in the room, he asked whether he had executed his commiffion; not being fenfible, it feems, that any interval of time, except perhaps a very fhort one, had elapfed during his illnefs. He lived ten years after, and died of another difeafe. See L'Hiftoire de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, pour l'année 1719, p. 28. Van Swieten alfo relates this ftory in his Commentaries on Boerhaave's Aphorifms, under the head Apoplexy. I mention it chiefly with a view to the reader's amusement: he may confider the evidence, and be

that our identity has fuffered any interruption or change the moment we awake or recover, we are conscious that we are the fame individual beings we were before.

Many doubts and difficulties have been started about our manner of conceiving identity of perfon under a change of fubftance. Plutarch tells us, that in the time of Demetrius Phalereus, the Athenians ftill preserved the custom of sending every year to Delos the fame galley which, about a thousand years before, had brought Thefeus and his company from Crete; and that it then used to be a question in the fchools, how this could be the fame veffel, when every part of its materials had been changed oftener than once *. It is afked, how a tree can be accounted the fame, when, from a plant of an inch long, it has grown to the height of fifty feet; and how identity can be afcribed to the human body, fince its parts are continually changing, fo that not one particle of the body I now have, belonged to the body I had twenty years ago.

lieve or disbelieve as he pleafes. But that consciousness may be interrupted by a total deliquium, without any change in our notions of our own identity, I know by my own experience. I am therefore fully perfuaded, that the identity of this fubftance which I call my foul, may continue even when I am unconfcious of it and if for a fhorter space, why not for a longer?

Plutarch, in Thefeo. Plato, in Phædone.


It were well, if metaphyficians would think more and speak lefs on these subjects: they would then find, that the difficulties fo much complained of are rather verbal than real. Was there a fingle Athenian, who did not know in what refpects the galley of Thefeus continued the fame, and in what refpects it was changed? It was the fame in refpect of its name, its deftination, its fhape perhaps, and fize, and fome other particulars; in respect of substance, it was altogether different. And when one party in the schools maintained, hat it was the fame, and the other, that it was not the fame, all the difference between them was this, that the one ufed the word fame in one fenfe, and the other in another.

The identity of vegetables is as easily conceived. No man imagines, that the plant of an inch long is the fame in fubftance with the tree of fifty feet. The latter is by the vulgar fuppofed to retain all the fubftance of the former, but with the addition of an immenfe quantity of adventitious matter. Thus far, and no further, do they fuppofe the fubftance of the tree to continue the fame. They call it, however, the fame tree and the fame it is, in many refpects, which to every person of common understanding, are obvious enough, though not easily expreffed in unexceptionable language.

Of the changes made in the human body by attrition, the vulgar have no notion.

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