In the January 22nd, 2010 Times Literary Supplement, the philosopher Peter Hacker considers Galen Strawson's book Selves, which at 452 pages seems like a dense and weighty philosophical tome. In his review, Hacker traces the use of the word "self" from its early Middle English origins up to its (problematic, he says) use by John Locke in the famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). After this, Hacker writes:
"Self" rapidly sprouted definite and indefinite articles, and singular and plural forms. It was conceived to be the subject of experience, the possessor of experience and the core of the identity of the person. Indeed, it was supposedly the reference of the first-person pronoun "I". It was the self, thus conceived, that Hume famously failed to find: "When I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other.... I can never catch myself at any time without a perception, and can never observe anything but a perception."
Hume's failure will be familiar to most Buddhists.