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Enquiry Concerning David Hume...

Can anyone help me track down a remark from Hume?

When I first read Hume, I remember either the book or a section ending with a sceptical critique of our notion of self and concluded in effect that it was impossible to make this track with any reliability. After observing this, Hume remarked (or so I recall) that he did not know what kind of philosophy was possible in the light of this conclusion.

However, I simply cannot find this remark anywhere. I have scoured the Enquiries and searched the Treatise; the discussion concerning doubt of the self can be found in the section entitled Personal Identity in the Treatise, and echoed again in the Appendix. But not the remark about what kind of philosophy was possible in the light of doubt of the self.

If anyone knows where this remark originates, and can help me track it to its source, I would be most grateful.


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Most likely I am referring here to A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, section vii:

"For I have already shewn [Sect. 1.], that the understanding, when it acts alone, and according to its most general principles, entirely subverts itself, and leaves not the lowest degree of evidence in any proposition, either in philosophy or common life. We save ourselves from this total scepticism only by means of that singular and seemingly trivial property of the fancy, by which we enter with difficulty into remote views of things, and are not able to accompany them with so sensible an impression, as we do those, which are more easy and natural. Shall we, then, establish it for a general maxim, that no refined or elaborate reasoning is ever to be received? Consider well the consequences of such a principle. By this means you cut off entirely all science and philosophy: You proceed upon one singular quality of the imagination, and by a parity of reason must embrace all of them: And you expressly contradict yourself; since this maxim must be built on the preceding reasoning, which will be allowed to be sufficiently refined and metaphysical."

What's more, I find it amusing that Hume deals with his scepticism by playing a game (emphasis mine):

"Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther."

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