bundle theory of the mind or self
- The view, particularly associated with Hume but anticipated in Buddhism, that we have no reason to think in terms of a single unified self that owns a variety of experiences or states; we only have access to the succession of states themselves. The enduring self is then a fiction, or a figment of the imagination. However, Hume confessed himself dissatisfied with his own account of the matter (Treatise, 1st Appendix). The problem is that the idea of one determinate self, that survives through life's normal changes of experience and personality, seems to be highly metaphysical. But if we avoid it we seem to be left only with the experiences themselves, and no account of their unity in one life, or, as it is sometimes put, no idea of the rope around the bundle. A tempting metaphor is that from individual experiences a self is ‘constructed’, perhaps as a fictitious focus of the narrative of one's life that one is inclined to give. But the difficulty with the notion is that experiences are individually too small to ‘construct’ anything, and anything capable of doing any constructing appears to be just the kind of guiding intelligent subject that got lost in the flight from the metaphysical view. See also atman , personal identity.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.
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