Hume's “appearances” and his vocabulary of awareness
Our ideas are, somehow, the objects themselves, and so they are no mere representations of reality.
Robert Pasnau, Theories of Cognition in the Later Middle Ages (1997), p. 299.
A variety of items in Hume's Treatise are said to appear to the soul or mind. Sensations, passions and emotions appear in the soul (p. 1), pain and pleasure make their appearance in the mind (p. 118), impressions and ideas “make their way into our thoughts or consciousness” (p. 1). An alternative phrase for “appear to or in the soul or mind” is “to be present with or to the mind. ” When an impression “has been present with the mind, ” we find that its next appearance is as an idea (p. 8). Impressions cannot “become present to the mind” without a specific degree of quantity or quality (p. 10). Operations of the mind are “most intimately present to us” (Enquiry, p. 13). Hume does not say that when a sensation, emotion, pain or pleasure appears to the soul, we are aware of that sensation, emotion, pain and pleasure. Nor does he make explicit that when impressions or ideas are present with the mind (sometimes it is “perceptions” that are present with the mind), we are conscious of them. But I believe “being conscious or aware” of what is present with the mind and what appears to the soul or mind is implicit in what he says.
Still other items are said to appear to the mind. For example, a line “has in its appearance in the mind, a precise degree of quantity and quality” (p. 19). Right lines have a particular appearance to the mind (p. 50). Right lines and a plain surface are said to have a general appearance (pp. 50–1). Colored points have a particular manner of appearance (p. 34). Time is said not to make its appearance to the mind alone, by itself (p. 35), it is always “conjoined with a succession of changeable objects” (p. 36). Sounds also make their appearance in a certain manner (p. 36), and qualities are present to us and have an appearance (p. 91). Tastes, smells, colors are said to be “co-temporary in their appearance in the
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Publication information: Book title: Realism and Appearances: An Essay in Ontology. Contributors: John W. Yolton - Author. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 99.
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