Edinburgh Research Explorer

Speaker : Interpreting Hume on Mental Representation

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Some of Hume’s central arguments in the Treatise concern which of our perceptions represent, and what these perceptions can and cannot represent. The past two decades have seen an explosion of literature aiming to reconstruct the theory of mental representation that (it is assumed) underlies these arguments. This paper argues that, in fact, Hume nowhere offers a theory of mental representation that is both (i) consistent with Treatise Book 2’s theory of the passions (specifically, with the theory of sympathy presented in “Of the love of fame” taken together the view, presented in “Of the influencing motives of the will”, that passions are non-representational); and (ii) fit to underwrite the Treatise’s arguments about the representationality of perceptions. But this is no cause for concern because Hume needs no such theory for the purposes of his mature philosophy, as presented in the Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects.


UK–Japan Special Conference: Aspects of Early Modern British Philosophy

Duration11 Sep 201912 Sep 2019
Location of eventSt Peters College, University of Oxford
CountryUnited Kingdom

Event: Conference

ID: 112373785