Two of the most
influential philosophers on psychology have been David Hume and Immanuel Kant (Boeree 1999). Hume’s materialism views
God, soul, matter, natural law, and any deliberation of metaphysics as products of the imagination. Hume associates external
contingencies with every perception of the self-reference. To Hume, “Just as there is no mind independent of perception,
there is no self independent of perceptions…” (Hergenhahn 2005).
Kant’s position is quite different. Kant wished to define a model of the self that would acknowledge physics and mathematics
while insulating God and faith. Kant also approaches grounding in physics to ascertain what has been identified as self (Brooks
Here we can contrast the two models, Hume’s is strictly naturalistic and Kant’s is metaphysical.
Hume believed that the entire contents of the mind were drawn from experience alone. The stimulus could be external or internal.
In this nexus, Hume describes what he calls impressions in contrast to ideas. Impressions are vivid perceptions and were strong
and lively. “I comprehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions as they make their first appearance in the soul.
Ideas were images in thinking and reason.” (Flew 1962 p. 176).
For Hume there is no mind or self. The perceptions that one has are only active when one is conscious. “When my perceptions
are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist.”
(Flew 1962, p.259). Hume appears to be reducing personality and cognition to a machine that may be turned on and off. Death
brings with it the annihilation of the perceptions one has. Hume argues passions as the determinants of behavior. Hume also
appears as a behaviorist believing that humans learn in the same manner as lower animals; that is through reward and punishment
Skepticism is the guiding principle in what is no doubt non-recognition of meta-physics in this subject. Hume in the appendix
to A Treatise on Human Nature addresses his conclusions (Hume 1789).
In short there are
two principles, which I cannot render consistent; nor is it in my power to renounce either of them, viz, that all our distinct
perceptions are distinct existences, and that the mind never perceives any real connexion among distinct existences.
of inquiry begins with his assumption that experience in the form of impressions cannot give rise to the constancy of a self
in which would be constant to give reference to all future experiences. The idea of self is not one any one impression. It
is several ideas and impressions in itself. There is no constant impression that endures for one’s whole life. Different
sensations as pleasure and pain, or heat and cold are in a constant continuum that is invariable and not constant. “It
cannot therefore be from any of these impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived; and consequently there
is no such idea (Hume 1789). It appears the closest thing that Hume could discuss as the self is similar to watching a film
or a play of one’s life. These perceptions themselves are separate from one another and there is no unifying component
as a self to organize such for long-term reference.
Hume further deliberates
over a position of identity of an invariable and uninterrupted existence. Hume confirms there is no primordial substance as
to where all secondary existences of individual existence exist. Everything in our conscious state is derived from impressions.
Objects in the outer world exist as distinct species that are separable from the secondary qualities in conscious thought.
To negate any demonstration of substance Hume posits an analogy that if life was reduced to below that of an oyster, does
this entity have any one perception as thirst or hunger? The only thing that would exist is the perception. Adding a higher
complex of perception would not yield any notion of substance that could yield an independent and constant self. (Hume 1789).
Hume’s model of the mind simply records data when such is manifestly conscious. The model abstracts and isolates objects
and secondary qualities without any metaphysics. Unity of experience is one area, which Hume found elusive in his model and
with such denied any configuration of self-reference only perceptions in the conscious (Hume 1789).
1724 - 1804
concept of the self is a response to Hume in part. Kant wished to justify a conviction in physics as a body of universal truth.
The other being to insulate religion, especially a belief in immortality and free will (Brooks 2004). In the Inaugural
Dissertation of 1770, Kant corrected earlier problems of a non-material soul having localization in space. Kant used inner
sense to defend the heterogeneity of body and soul: “bodies are objects of outer sense; souls are objects of inner sense”
(Carpenter 2004). In Kant’s thought there are two components of the self: 1. inner-self 2. outer-self (Brooks 2004).
There are two
kinds of consciousness of self: consciousness of oneself and one's psychological states in inner sense and consciousness of
oneself and one's states via performing acts of apperception.
Empirical self-consciousness is the term Kant used to describe the inner self. Transcendental apperception or (TA) is used
in two manners by Kant for the term. The first being a synthetic faculty and a second as the “I” as subject. One will note that logically this function would occur in inner sense (Brooks 2004). Kant states that all representational
states are in inner sense include all spatially localized outer objects. The origin or our representations regardless if they
are the product of a priori or outer objects as modifications of the mind belong to inner sense. Kant presents apperception
as a means to consciousness to one’s self. Inner sense is not pure apperception. It is an awareness of what we are experiencing
as we are affected by thought (Brooks 2004).
Brooks cites three types of synthesis. Kant claimed, there are three types of synthesis required to organize
information, namely apprehending in intuition, reproducing in imagination, and recognizing in concepts (A97-A105). “Synthesis
of apprehension concerns raw perceptual input, synthesis of recognition concerns concepts, and synthesis of reproduction in
imagination allows the mind to go from the one to the other.” (Brooks 2004).
Unity of experience and consciousness are integral to the concept of the self. Transcendental apperception has function to
unite all appearances into one experience. This is a unity based on causal laws. There is a synthesis according to concepts
that subordinates all to transcendental unity. According to Kant the contents of consciousness must have causal connections
to be unified (Brooks 2004).
Kant argues that in the present progressive one can be aware of oneself by an act of representing(Kant
1789). Representation is not intuitive but a spontaneous act of performing or doing things. Man knows that by doing and fulfilling
activities that these impressions cannot be simply sensations resulting from the senses. Representation fulfills
three acts. An act of representing can make one conscious of its object, itself and oneself as its subject; the representational
base of consciousness of these three items. Becoming conscious of our selves is simply an act of representation and nothing
more (Brooks 2004).
Kantpostulates that there is a plurality of representations that gives rise
to our view of self as a “single common subject”. This concept requires a constant undivided self. This concept
is a continuation of global unity that spans many representations, one does not have to be conscious of the global object
but of oneself as subject of all representations (Kant 1787).
self has a unity of self reference, “When we are conscious of ourselves as subject, we are conscious of ourselves as
the “single common subject” [CPR, A350] of a number of representations.” (Kant 1787). Here Kant confirms
that the impressions we perceive have one single common aim and that is the self as subject of these experiences.
postulates both senses as empirical but with the object of inner self being the soul. Transcendental apperception is a priori.
Kant maintains the use of intuitive faculties of intuition and synthesis in inner self where innate material unites the spatially
located objects from the outer self. Here, this permits a downward deductive operation to act from Kant’s theology while
preserving an inductive operation from the sense world of our experience.
Kant’s model is a response to a purely material based inductive model of the self proposed by Hume. Hume’s self
is a passive observer similar to watching one’s life pass before as a play or on a screen. Hume is a strict determinist,
no free will. The final determination for Hume then is the self is a fleeting linking of objects by our memory to objects.
Any concept of self is simply memory and imagination. Hume is not totally a behavioristic precursor but his imprint is noticeable.
however has a rationalistic motive and posits that the mind is actively manipulating data through acts of synthesis. The model
contains a flaw - Transcendental apperception should have been placed in inner sense. Overall the case remains for Kant’s
use of synthesis from faculties in the mind for unifying objects, representations, experience, and consciousness into a coherent
reference to the self has implications in present day cognitive psychology (Brooks 2004).