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Hume I

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  1. Hume I Charles Manekin Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  2. Topics of Discussion Life and Works On the Two Species of Philosophy Perceptions, Impressions and Ideas Empiricist Theory of Meaning Association of Ideas Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  3. Life and Works Born in Edinburgh on April 26, 1711. Family land-owning, though not independently wealthy. Nervous breakdown in 1729, abandons philosophy, retreats to France, takes it up again, composes Treatise on Human Nature, “which fell deadborn from the press, without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the Zealots.” 1/2/2020 3 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  4. Life and Works Hume returned to Scotland, began to write “lighter” essays that won him a certain degree of literary fame. He was rejected for Professorship of Moral Philosophy and Pneumatology at University of Edinburgh because of alleged atheist and skeptical tendencies. 1745 – Tutor to the Marquess of Anandale Secretary to General St. Clair’s in Expedition to Canada (French Canadian War) Accompanies general to Vienna and Turin, writes First Enquity, originally Essays.” Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  5. Relation of Enquiry and Treatise Advertisement: “Henceforth, the Author desires, that the following Pieces may alone be regarded as containing his philosophical sentiments and principles.” Should the above be taken seriously? 1/2/2020 5 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  6. Of the Different Species of Philosophy “Moral philosophy, or the science of human nature, may be treated after two different manners.” Practical vs. Theoretical. Man fo action vs. Man of Reason. Where does Hume stand? First species: Moral philosophy as attempting to improve human morals. Poetry, novels, literature, fables. Second species: Moral philosophy as attempting to understand human nature. Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  7. The Defence of the Second Species Accurate and abstract philosophy serves the easy and humane (anatomy and painting.) The importance of science for technology and human endeavors. The criticism of philosophy and metaphysics – that it goes where human reason must not go. The importance of delineating the geography of the mind, its faculties and powers. Perhaps the source of the these faculties can be found. 1/2/2020 7 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  8. On the Origin of Ideas Perceptions divided into ideas and impressions. What is the distinction between the two? “Force and vivacity” All ideas are copies of impressions. The missing shade… Note that impressions can be mental impressions, not just impressions of the external world. 1/2/2020 8 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  9. Meaning and Idea Empiricist claim – all our ideas arise in antecedent impressions. Ideas = meanings. To understand a term’s meaning, one requires to know what is the impression(s) on which it is based. “When we entertain, therefore, any suspicion that a philosophical term is employed without any meaning or idea…we need but enquire from what impression is that supposed idea derived” Innate: what is not copied from a previous perception. “All our impressions are innate, none of our ideas are innate.” 1/2/2020 9 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  10. Association of Ideas Three Principles of association of ideas. Resemblance Contiguity in time or place Cause or effect. Examples 1/2/2020 10 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  11. Skeptical Doubts About the Understanding Hume’s Fork Relations of Ideas / Matters of Fact Relations of Ideas are discovered by the a priori operations of the mind. The contradictory is inconceivable. Note we are not talking about the relation of ideas not qua mental images, but the relation of the content of the ideas. Relations between meanings, if you will. Mathematics and Geometry What about “Mixed” Mathematics? 1/2/2020 11 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  12. Skeptical Doubts About the Understanding “What is the nature of that evidence which assures us of our real existence and matter of fact beyond the present testimony of our senses and the records of our memory?” Matters of fact are discovered by the evidence of experience, and rely on the belief in causality. Their contradictory is conceivable. Cause and effects are discoverable not by reason but by experience Two billiard ball examples Ultimate causes may not be knowable: 1/2/2020 12 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  13. Deeper Skeptical Doubts About the Understanding “What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience…I say that even after we have experience of the operations of cause and effect, our conclusions from experience are not founded on reasoning, or any process of the understanding.” Conclusions drawn from experience are not rational demonstrations This much is admitted by Aristotle But in making inductions, the Aristotelians says that the mind grasps the essences of things that necessitate their being the way they are. This is denied by Hume. 1/2/2020 13 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  14. Deeper Skeptical Doubts About the Understanding So what is the basis of our making conclusions from experience? Like causes produce like effects? The future is conformable to the past? But why do we believe in these maxims? Surely there is no demonstration that the future will be the same as the past? 1/2/2020 14 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  15. “Skeptical Solutions of These Doubts” Note the title of the section – a defense of the positive value of skepticism. Here, the skepticism is against dogmatic metaphysics, which bases the causal relation on the principle of sufficient reason, or some metaphysical claim of that sort. Again, the stress on the practical value of knowing the limitations of reasoning. What determines the mind to draw the conclusion in induction. “Custom or Habit” This explains why we draw the conclusion more confidently and firmly after we have experienced 100 times rather than one. We are prone to draw the conclusion by a psychological propensity. All reasoning concerning matter of fact must terminate with testimony of the senses (or memory thereof). We are presented with such testimony, we are inclined to believe what follows from it; that inclination is born of habit, and the belief formed is not based on deductive “reasoning.” 1/2/2020 15 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  16. Hume’s Account of Belief Locke: “Belief…is the admitting or receiving any proposition for true, upon arguments or proofs that are found to persuade us to receive it as true, without certain knowledge that it is so.” Note the basis: “arguments or proofs”. This emphasizes reason. Hume’s Description of Belief: “Nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object”. Belief as sentiment 1/2/2020 16 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  17. Of Probability Demonstrations: A priori reasoning Proofs: “Such arguments from experience as leave no room for doubt or opposition” Probability: Such argument from experience that are likely 1/2/2020 17 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  18. The Idea of Necessary Connection “There are no ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, than those of power, force, energy or necessary connexion, of which it is every moment necessary for us to treat in all our disquisitions. We shall, therefore, endeavour, in this section, to fix, if possible, the precise meaning of these terms “ Fix the meaning = (for Hume) find the antecedent impression. 1/2/2020 18 Modern Philosophy PHIL320

  19. Are Causes Observable in Nature? No. We observe events following other events, but we don’t observe causation; we infer causation. Perhaps we have the idea of force or power (production) by an internal awareness of our operations? No again; we only experience one mental event following another. 1/2/2020 19 Modern Philosophy PHIL320