The Power of Philosophy

Today I attended the Great Books’ Discussion at my library. We read David Hume’s “Of Personal Identity,” which was a short, but very challenging read. Basically, Hume wants us to question if our concept of “self” is at all real. Is it perhaps an imagined thing?

Hume blew me away with his poking and questioning the idea that the self is real. He seems to think it’s more of an idea, a fanciful notion that unthinking people like.

Much of his thinking depended on how prevalent change is. People change all the time. A person can be foolish and then wise, thin then fat, shy then bold, etc. Bodies change. Feelings change. You get the idea.

I don’t buy Hume’s thinking because I do believe in a soul. There’s a core being that is more important than how I look, which will change, or what I feel, which will change, etc. Now Hume would challenge me because I can’t scientifically prove I have a soul or we have a core, but–and this would drive him crazy–I don’t think science has all the answers.

I know they don’t. Today across the US we’re viewing a total eclipse, but scientists can’t figure out why the corona, the perimeter of the sun is much hotter than the inner core of the sun. That’s only one of many questions they can’t answer.

Though I don’t buy Hume’s thinking, I did relish gathering round a table with other readers and hashing out these ideas and probing something I very much took for granted. The group leader always prepares so carefully and the others round the table were quite engaging and respectful of others’ thoughts as we had a civil discussion.