Stanley Jaki on Hume

‘Starting with a dark mystery, Hume went on stumbling from mystery to mystery, because he had radically separated at the very outset sense from mind and mind from sense. The rise of sensory impressions become one unfathomable mystery, the assocation of impressions another. By ascribing it to some “gentle force” to an instinctive inclination, Hume only made the mystery more mysterious. More mystery arose when Hume tried to reduce that instinct to the “original qualities” of mind. The mystery was now so dense that Hume did not even pretend to “explain that origin”. But Hume could have even that thick mystery only at the price of evoking a vision of mind as a substance capable of having qualities. A little honest reflection on Hume’s part might have shown him that man’s experience of having a mind consists precisely in experiencing a peculiar unity which gives them intelligibility and order. Instead, Hume ended up advocating a notion of mind which in his description could easily evoke the image of a heap of bricks. To assume that the heap formed through some all-pervading mortar a genuine unity was an illusion: “What we call a mind, is nothing byt a heap of collection of different perceptions, united together by certain relations and supposed, though falsely, to be endowed with a perfect simplicity and identity.” (Stanley Jaki, ‘The Road of Science and the Ways to God’, p. 104)

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