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David Hume PowerPoint Presentation

David Hume

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David Hume

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  1. David Hume By: Lyla Kolman “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.” ("")

  2. Stats • British Empiricist • Believed that the only true knowledge was gained by experience, sometimes just by the senses. (“Free Dictionary”) • Influential during his lifetime • Historian, essayist, worked minor jobs for the English government (Morris) • Influenced by: John Locke, Aristotle. (Schenk)

  3. Life Story • Born in Edinburgh in 1711 • Accompanied his older brother to Edinburgh University at age 12 • Wished to be a scholar • 1734 – 1742, published A treatise of Human Nature and Essays, Moral and Political, both moderately successful. • Worked as Librarian to the Edinburgh Faculty of Advocates while very successful but ridiculously long History of England. • Known as an atheist and skeptic after writings claiming religion and scientific fact were merely theories of the human mind. His publisher was even threatened when he attempted to publish The Natural History of Religion and A Dissertation to the Passions. • Worked briefly for the English government in France, returned to England to be the Under-Secretary of State in Englad, then finally returned to Edinburgh. • Died of intestinal cancer in 1776. • Dialogues concerning Natural Religon, his most controversial work, was published after his death. (Morris)

  4. Comparison to Plato’s Theory • Plato believed in two types of knowledge • 1 – Knowledge gathered from sense perception • 2 – Knowledge gathered from reasoning • Divided Line theory – subject matter divided into things that can be known by sense perception, and then things that can be known only in the mind. These are further subdivided to create four areas, a “line” divided into four: imagination, real-world knowledge, scientific/logical knowledge, wisdom. (Uebersax) • Hume believed in only one kind of knowledge: knowledge gathered by sense perception. • He believed not everything could be known, that humans were limited to only what our senses could perceive, and so truly explaining our reason for existence or the exact qualities of worldy objects is impossible. • (Lavine, 1984)

  5. Theory of Sense Perception Two Kinds of Perception: 2) Ideas – the recollection or memories of impressions, described by Hume as “copies or faint images of impressions.” • Simple: a memory of a simple impression, corresponds accurately • Complex: a memory of a simple impression, corresponds less accurately. • Imagination – made up of many simple impressions to create a complex idea. 1) Impressions – the immediate reaction or emotional response to something, such as passion, the five senses, etc. More powerful, since it is the original experience. • Simple: one or few impressions experience simultaneously • Complex: many impressions experienced simultaneously • Hume believed nothing could be “known” without a prior impression of it, only a sensory experience can prove that something exists. (Lavine, 1984)

  6. Perception Related to Experience • Hume stated that experience consisted of many atomic elements – with an impression or idea constituting every atom. • Theory influenced by similar theories of John Locke and other previous empiricists. • Hume believed that an inner force creates simple ideas to form complex ones, and so create thoughts and theories. To explain this, he developed the three laws of the association of ideas. (Lavine, 1984)

  7. The Laws of Association 3 • Resemblance between two ideas causes an association. • Contiguity between two ideas causes an association. • Cause and effect of something create an association between both ideas. • Most powerful connections, only way to deduce “facts” without directly experiencing them (Lavine, 1984)

  8. Implications of Theory Sense perception consists only of our direct experiences and our reflection on those experiences. Knowledge can only be gathered from sense perception. so... so... We can only know what we have directly sensed, or can theorize by cause and effect. This means religious and scientific knowledge are only associations of ideas born in the psychology of the human mind.

  9. Bibliography • Fieser, James. "Hume:A Moral Theory." Internet Enyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., 5 Jul 2005. Web. 10 Feb 2011. <>. • Lavine , T.Z. (1984). From socrates to sarte: the philosophic quest. New York: Bantam Books. • Lavine , T.Z. (1984). From socrates to sarte: the philosophic quest. New York: Bantam Books. • Schenk, Ken. "Famous Empiricists." Quadrilateral Thoughts., 29 Jul 2008. Web. 15 Feb 2011. <>. • Morris, William Edward, "David Hume", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), <>. • Uebersax, John S. "Plato's Divided Line Analogy." Works on Psychology and Religion. N.p., 05 Mar 2008. Web. 15 Feb 2011. <>. • "David Hume Quotes." Think Exist, 2010. Web. 15 Feb 2011. <>. • ALL IMAGES FROM GOOGLE.COM OR CLIPART