Hume's Impression of Will

Hume Studies 43 (1):91-116 (2017)


The "impression of will" is intended to pick out the experience of willing an act. Hume discusses this impression in the Treatise primarily in terms of its psychological setting, describing it as "the internal impression we feel and are conscious of, when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body, or new perception of our mind".1 It is not obvious what Hume means in this and related passages. Scholars have offered a number of suggestions about how the impression of will fits into Hume's overall moral psychology.2 But the specific issue I want to raise here concerns two substantive claims about the experience of willing an act that are attributed to Hume with some frequency. The first...

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Joshua M. Wood
Boston University

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