David Hume's Idea of the Self and the Society-Organism
Aug 20, 2020

In Book 1 of A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume laid out his principle of the self which is based on how pure consciousness perceives entities in existence, without the usual human limitations arising from the deceptive force of Nature which the Hindus call Maya.

Each self is a subjective artificial construct made by the perceiving entity, which in the human case is consciousness. Hume gives the following examples:

We assign the identity of "Donald Trump" to the entity that matches our experiences of it.

Each soul has 3 billion selves

Human convention or habit assigns the same identity because it would take a lot of mental effort to classify one ship or one tree into different ships or trees with every single change in it and then retain them in memory for comparison. A 20-year old man will not only have 20 selves and not even 7,300 selves (20 * 365), but 630,720,000 selves if his smallest perception is in seconds! If humans live for 100 years, then each human soul will experience 3,153,600,000 selves in a lifetime, and even more if we can naturally perceive milliseconds.

This dynamic idea of the self is very important because it serves as the foundation for Book 2 where he discusses the nature of emotions and Book 3 on Morals. It is fully compatible with Plato’s concept of the soul and the Hindu concept of the jivatman. This dynamism prevents moral systems from degrading into casuistry wherein all moral rules are given beforehand, such as in the Ten Commandments and Shariah law. The problem with such laws is that they force dynamic consciousnesses into a moral box, hindering their evolution. Morals are ultimately based on feelings, and feelings change through time. Therefore, moral rules made thousands of years ago work well for the prevailing feelings thousands of years ago, but may be incompatible with the feelings of today.

If we were to view moral rules as a kind of forced logic, then the casuistic moral systems in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity would be like hard-coding, whereas the rules in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism would be soft-coding. An example of hard-coding is:

if x = '1' then 'A'
elsif x = '1' then 'B'
elsif x = '3' then 'C'
elsif x = '4' then 'D'

Here, you compare your action x with whatever is exactly listed beforehand and then get a corresponding punishment or reward. This system makes rules as they go, adding them to existing ones, and is based on effect. This method is easy so set up, but will show cracks in the long run. For example, it was easy for Moses to come up with Ten Commandments to bring his people into Israel, but it later led to internal conflict since the rules were too simple.

An example of soft-coding is:

if x is between 1 to 10 and z is between 1 to 10 then 'A'
else if x is between 10 to 20 and z is between 1 to 10 then 'B'
else if..

Here, the rules are flexible, accepting a wider range of actions and a wider range of situations before coming to a judgement. This system relies on having the whole purpose thought of beforehand and is based on cause. This system is more difficult to set up since a lot of forethought is needed. But after it is set up, then it lasts for a long time. Examples are Confucianism and Hinduism.

A Drop in the Ocean of Existence

In Hinduism, the jivatman is a tiny-soul that loses its identity when it is absorbed into the larger universal-soul, similar to a water in a glass losing its identity or self when it is poured into the sea. Conversely, the water in the sea (paramatman) can be turned into billions of new entities or identities (jivas) by taking a billion cups and scooping the water into each, in order to create 1 billion seas-in-a-cup (jivatmans).

Instead of water and seas, Hume gives the example of a citizens and republics, wherein each citizen is a 'drop' or member of the bigger sea of humans.:

I can only compare the soul to a republic with several members united by the reciprocal ties of government and subordination. This gives rise to other persons who propagate the same republic in the incessant changes of its parts. The same republic may change its members, laws, and constitutions.
David Hume

In my proposed Supersociology, Hume's idea of the self naturally leads to the idea of the society-organism which has its own dynamics, just as water in a cup has different dynamics than water in the ocean. For example, water in a cup does not have waves nor any variation in saltiness or mineral content, whereas ocean-water has waves and a varying amount of minerals.

This has the following implementations:

Unlike the old casuistic system that is static and forces reality to conform to the system's rules, such as "Thou shall not steal" , this new system allows reality to be dynamic, as "Thou shall be provided for by society through employment depending on your capacity and needs."

This new version is open-ended and requires the lawmaker to actively check the supply and demand of each entity in order to prevent inequality and theft. It is very different from the old system where the lawmaker merely waits for a theft to occur before springing to action. It removes theft by pruning away the propensity and desire to steal before it actually becomes a need to steal. It would be like a gardener regularly cutting off parts of a shrub to mold it into an ideal shape. This is different from the current system where the whole shrub grows unchecked and is chopped down if it becomes too ugly. You could say that convicts are those trees that were neglected by society so as to grow ugly and then imprisoned or chopped down (given the death penalty) by the law to prevent them from messing up tree-society.

This new system is much more sophisticated as it gets data regularly to plot the behavior of each self and then matches their pattern acccording to the general moral template. If each soul has 3 billion selves in a lifetime and there are 1 billion people on earth, as a set population, then the lawmaker must do 30,000,000,000,000,000 observations (30 quadrillion) in a year! This is impossible for any person or even groups of persons, but is possible for an artificially-intelligent lawmaker such as a computer which can handle thousands of computations per second. This is the idea behind ISAIAH  or the Impartial Spectator Automated Inteligence Aggregation Host which processes user data and compares it with a moral template to assist in making moral judgements in real time. With ISAIAH, the following moral decisions can be made:

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