david hume epistemology philosophy paper

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David hume epistemology philosophy paper nursing commitment essay

David hume epistemology philosophy paper

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Hume returned to England in to ready the Treatise for the press. Six years later, he stood for the Chair of Logic at Glasgow, only to be turned down again. Hume never held an academic post. A year later he became secretary to his cousin, Lieutenant General James St Clair, eventually accompanying him on an extended diplomatic mission in Austria and Italy.

He also included material he had excised from the Treatise. Published in six volumes between and , his History was a bestseller well into the next century, giving him the financial independence he had long sought. Friends and publishers persuaded him to suppress some of his more controversial writings on religion during his lifetime.

In , Hume accepted a position as private secretary to the British Ambassador to France. He became the rage of the Parisian salons, enjoying the conversation and company of famous European intellectuals. He was known for his love of good food and wine, as well as his enjoyment of the attentions and affections of women. Hume returned to Edinburgh in He spent considerable time revising his works for new editions of his Essays and Treatises , which contained his collected Essays , the two Enquiries , A Dissertation on the Passions , and The Natural History of Religion , but—significantly—not A Treatise of Human Nature.

In , Hume was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. The ancient philosophers, on whom he had been concentrating, replicated the errors their natural philosophers made. He was convinced that the only way to improve philosophy was to make the investigation of human nature central—and empirical HL 3. By the time Hume began to write the Treatise three years later, he had immersed himself in the works of the modern philosophers, but found them disturbing, not least because they made the same mistakes the ancients did, while professing to avoid them.

Their theories were too speculative, relied on a priori assumptions, and paid too little attention to what human nature is actually like. These systems, covering a wide range of entrenched and influential metaphysical and theological views, purport to have discovered principles that give us a deeper and more certain knowledge of ultimate reality.

Metaphysics aids and abets these and other superstitious doctrines. His critique of metaphysics clears the way for the constructive phase of his project—the development of an empirical science of human nature—and Hume is not at all skeptical about its prospects.

The new foundation is the scientific study of human nature. They are all human activities, so what we are able to accomplish in them depends on understanding what kinds of questions we are able to handle and what sorts we must leave alone. If we have a better grasp of the scope and limits of our understanding, the nature of our ideas, and the operations we perform in reasoning about them, there is no telling what improvements we might make in these sciences. Although Hume does not mention him by name, Newton — is his hero.

Any laws we discover must be established by observation and experiment. Hume is proposing an empiricist alternative to traditional a priori metaphysics. His empiricism is naturalistic in that it refuses to countenance any appeal to the supernatural in the explanation of human nature. As a naturalist, he aims to account for the way our minds work in a manner that is consistent with a Newtonian picture of the world.

Hume portrays his scientific study of human nature as a kind of mental geography or anatomy of the mind EHU 1. In the first section of the first Enquiry , he says that it has two principal tasks, one purely descriptive , the other explanatory. Hume, however, wants to go much further. But he emphasizes that while he will try to find the most general principles, rendering them as universal as possible, all of his explanations must be based completely on experience.

Although philosophy, as an empirical enterprise, is itself bound by experience, this is not a defect in the science of human nature. Explanations must come to an end somewhere. Hume is Newtonian in much more than method.

He sees that Newton is significantly different from John Locke — and the other Royal Society natural philosophers, because he rejects their mechanist picture of the world. By appealing to these same principles throughout, Hume gives an explanation of these diverse phenomena that enable him to provide a unified and economical account of the mind. Each piece is warranted by experience. The early modern period was the heyday of the investigation of the ideas of causation, moral good and evil, and many other philosophically contested ideas.

Hume holds an empiricist version of the theory, because he thinks that everything we believe is ultimately traceable to experience. He begins with an account of perceptions , because he believes that any intelligible philosophical question must be asked and answered in those terms. He uses perception to designate any mental content whatsoever, and divides perceptions into two categories, impressions and ideas.

Impressions include sensations as well as desires , passions , and emotions. He thinks everyone will recognize his distinction, since everyone is aware of the difference between feeling and thinking. Hume distinguishes two kinds of impressions: impressions of sensation , or original impressions , and impressions of reflection , or secondary impressions. He calls them original because trying to determine their ultimate causes would take us beyond anything we can experience.

Any intelligible investigation must stop with them. Impressions of reflection include desires, emotions, passions, and sentiments. They are essentially reactions or responses to ideas, which is why he calls them secondary. Perceptions—both impressions and ideas—may be either simple or complex. Complex impressions are made up of a group of simple impressions. My impression of the violet I just picked is complex. Among the ways it affects my senses are its brilliant purple color and its sweet smell.

I can separate and distinguish its color and smell from the rest of my impressions of the violet. Hume initially distinguishes impressions and ideas in terms of their degree of force and vivacity. Impressions are more forceful and vivacious than ideas.

At various times, Hume tries other ways of characterizing the difference between impressions and ideas, but he was never completely satisfied with them. Still, what he says works well enough to give us a handle on the felt differences between impressions and ideas. When Hume distinguishes impressions and ideas in terms of their relative force and vivacity, he is pointing out something that is generally true of them as a matter of fact. On occasion, in dreams or a high fever, ideas may approach the force and vivacity of impressions, but these are exceptions that prove the—empirical—rule.

In general, impressions and ideas are so different that no one can deny the distinction. In the Treatise , Hume qualifies his claim that our ideas are copies of our impressions, making clear that it applies only to the relation between simple ideas and simple impressions. He argues first that there is a one—to—one correspondence between simple ideas and simple impressions.

But he is so confident the correspondence holds that he challenges anyone who doubts it to produce an example of a simple impression without a corresponding simple idea, or a simple idea without a corresponding simple impression. Since he is certain they will fail, he concludes that there is a constant conjunction between simple impressions and simple ideas. There must be a causal connection between them, but do ideas cause impressions or do impressions cause ideas? Finally, he argues that experience tells us that simple impressions always precede and thus cause their corresponding ideas.

To support this claim, he appeals to two sorts of cases. First, if you want to give a child an idea of the taste of pineapple, you give her a piece of pineapple to eat. You never go the other way round. He imagines someone who has had the same sorts of experiences of colors most of us have had, but has never experienced a certain shade of blue. Hume thinks that if he orders all the shades of blue he has experienced from the darkest to the lightest, he will see immediately that there is a gap where the missing shade should be.

Then he asks. Hume repeats the case of the missing shade almost verbatim in the first Enquiry. While scholars have wondered exactly how the person might supply the missing shade, he seems unconcerned with the details. For Hume, once again the exception proves the—empirical—rule.

EHU 7. Conventional definitions—replacing terms with their synonyms—merely replicate philosophical confusions and never break out of a narrow definitional circle. Getting clear about the content of the ideas and the meanings of the terms we are investigating requires something else. He believes he has found a way to accurately determine their content—his account of definition. Begin with a term. Ask what idea is annexed to it. If there is no such idea, then the term has no cognitive content, however prominently it figures in philosophy or theology.

If there is an idea annexed to the term, and it is complex, break it down into the simple ideas that compose it, and trace them back to their original impressions. If the process fails at any point, the idea in question lacks cognitive content. Hume uses his account of definition in the critical phase of his project to show that many of the central concepts of traditional metaphysics lack intelligible content.

He also uses it in the constructive phase to determine the exact meaning of our terms and ideas. Although we are capable of separating and combining our simple ideas as we please, there is, nevertheless, a regular order to our thoughts. This suggests that. Hume identifies three principles of association: resemblance , contiguity in time and place, and causation. When someone shows you a picture of your best friend, you naturally think of her because the picture resembles her.

Thinking of Sausalito may lead you to think of the Golden Gate Bridge, which may lead you to think of San Francisco, since they are spatially contiguous. Taking aspirin in the past has relieved my headaches, so I expect that the aspirin I just took will soon relieve my present headache. He is interested only in establishing that, as a matter of fact, we do associate ideas in these ways.

Given that his claim that the associative principles explain the important operations of the mind is an empirical one, he must admit, as he does in the first Enquiry , that he cannot prove conclusively that his list of associative principles is complete. Perhaps he has overlooked some additional principle. We are free to examine our own thoughts to determine whether resemblance, contiguity, and causation successfully explain them.

The more instances the associative principles explain, the more assurance we have that Hume has identified the basic principles by which our minds work. Aristotle — BCE drew an absolute categorical distinction between scientific knowledge scientia and belief opinio. Scientific knowledge was knowledge of causes and scientific explanation consisted in demonstration —proving the necessary connection between a cause and its effect from intuitively obvious premises independently of experience.

Even so, they accepted his distinction between knowledge and belief, and regarded causal inference as an exercise of reason, which aimed at demonstrating the necessary connection between cause and effect. Malebranche — , and others following Descartes — , were optimistic about the possibility of demonstrative scientific knowledge, while those in the British experimental tradition were more pessimistic.

Locke was sufficiently sceptical about what knowledge we can attain that he constructed one of the first accounts of probable inference to show that belief can meet standards of rationality that make experimental natural philosophy intellectually respectable. Propositions concerning relations of ideas are intuitively or demonstratively certain.

That the interior angles of a Euclidean triangle sum to degrees is true whether or not there are any Euclidean triangles to be found in nature. In sharp contrast, the truth of propositions concerning matters of fact depends on the way the world is. Asserting that Miami is north of Boston is false, but not contradictory. We can understand what someone who asserts this is saying, even if we are puzzled about how he could have the facts so wrong.

In the constructive phase , he supplies an alternative: the associative principles are their basis. Causal inferences are the only way we can go beyond the evidence of our senses and memories. In making them, we suppose there is some connection between present facts and what we infer from them. But what is this connection? How is it established? If the connection is established by an operation of reason or the understanding, it must concern either relations of ideas or matters of fact.

Effects are different events from their causes, so there is no contradiction in conceiving of a cause occurring, and its usual effect not occurring. Ordinary causal judgments are so familiar that we tend to overlook this; they seem immediate and intuitive.

But suppose you were suddenly brought into the world as an adult, armed with the intellectual firepower of an Einstein. Could you, simply by examining an aspirin tablet, determine that it will relieve your headache? When we reason a priori , we consider the idea of the object we regard as a cause independently of any observations we have made of it. Contrary to what the majority of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors thought, causal inferences do not concern relations of ideas.

Hume now moves to the only remaining possibility. Since we neither intuit nor infer a priori that similar objects have similar secret powers, our presumption must be based in some way on our experience. But our past experience only gives us information about objects as they were when we experienced them, and our present experience only tells us about objects we are experiencing now. Causal inferences, however, do not just record our past and present experiences.

They extend or project what we have gathered from experience to other objects in the future. Hume thinks we can get a handle on this question by considering two clearly different propositions:. The chain of reasoning I need must show me how my past experience is relevant to my future experience. I need some further proposition or propositions that will establish an appropriate link or connection between past and future, and take me from 1 to 2 using either demonstrative reasoning , concerning relations of ideas, or probable reasoning , concerning matters of fact.

However unlikely it may be, we can always intelligibly conceive of a change in the course of nature. That leaves probable reasoning. Hume argues that there is no probable reasoning that can provide a just inference from past to future.

Any attempt to infer 2 from 1 by a probable inference will be viciously circular—it will involve supposing what we are trying to prove. Hume spells out the circularity this way. Any reasoning that takes us from 1 to 2 must employ some connecting principle that connects the past with the future. Adopting [UP] will indeed allow us to go from 1 to 2. But before we can use it to establish that our causal inferences are determined by reason, we need to determine our basis for adopting it.

But to attempt to establish [UP] this way would be to try to establish probable arguments using probable arguments, which will eventually include [UP] itself. At this point, Hume has exhausted the ways reason might establish a connection between cause and effect. Having cleared the way for his constructive account, Hume is ready to do just that. Hume maintains that this principle is custom or habit :. EHU 5. Custom and habit are general names for the principles of association.

Hume describes their operation as a causal process: custom or habit is the cause of the particular propensity you form after your repeated experiences of the constant conjunction of smoke and fire. Causation is the operative associative principle here, since it is the only one of those principles that can take us beyond our senses and memories. Custom thus turns out to be the source of the Uniformity Principle —the belief that the future will be like the past.

Causal inference leads us not only to conceive of the effect, but also to expect it. What more is involved in believing that aspirin will relieve my headache than in merely conceiving that it will? If there were some such idea, given our ability to freely combine ideas, we could, by simply willing, add that idea to any conception whatsoever, and believe anything we like.

Hume concludes that belief must be some sentiment or feeling aroused in us independently of our wills, which accompanies those ideas that constitute them. It is a particular way or manner of conceiving an idea that is generated by the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

If constant conjunctions were all that is involved, my thoughts about aspirin and headaches would only be hypothetical. For belief, one of the conjoined objects must be present to my senses or memories; I must be taking, or just have taken, an aspirin. In these circumstances, believing that my headache will soon be relieved is as unavoidable as feeling affection for a close friend, or anger when someone harms us.

While Hume thinks that defining this sentiment may be impossible, we can describe belief, if only by analogy, although he was never completely satisfied with his attempts to do so. Belief is a livelier, firmer, more vivid, steady, and intense conception of an object. Hume intends these characterizations to go beyond merely recording intensity of feeling to capture how belief.

The propensity is due to the associative bond that my repeated experiences of taking aspirin and headache relief have formed. Custom, Hume maintains, in language that anticipates and influenced Darwin,. In keeping with his project of providing a naturalistic account of how our minds work, Hume has given empirical explanations of our propensity to make causal inferences, and the way those inferences lead to belief.

To get clear about the idea of power or necessary connection, we need to determine the impressions that are its source. Hume identifies three possible sources in the work of his predecessors: Locke thought we get our idea of power secondarily from external impressions of the interactions of physical objects, and primarily from internal impressions of our ability to move our bodies and to consider ideas. They are only occasions for God, the sole source of necessary connection, to act in the world.

Hume rejects all three possibilities. When I decide to type, my fingers move over the keyboard. When I decide to stop, they stop, but I have no idea how this happens. Our command over them is limited and varies from time to time. We learn about these limitations and variations only through experience, but the mechanisms by which they operate are unknown and incomprehensible to us.

Malebranche and other occasionalists do the same, except they apply it across the board. It also capitalizes on how little we know about the interactions of bodies, but since our idea of God is based on extrapolations from our faculties, our ignorance should also apply to him. In our discussion of causal inference, we saw that when we find that one kind of event is constantly conjoined with another, we begin to expect the one to occur when the other does.

Hume concludes that it is just this felt determination of the mind—our awareness of this customary transition from one associated object to another—that is the source of our idea of necessary connection. When we say that one object is necessarily connected with another, we really mean that the objects have acquired an associative connection in our thought that gives rise to this inference.

Having located the missing ingredient, Hume is ready to offer a definition of cause. In fact, he gives us two. The first,. A cause is an object, followed by another, where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second,. A cause is an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to the other,.

Only together do they capture all the relevant impressions involved. Hume locates the source of the idea of necessary connection in us , not in the objects themselves or even in our ideas of those objects we regard as causes and effects. In doing so, he completely changes the course of the causation debate, reversing what everyone else thought about the idea of necessary connection.

Subsequent discussions of causation must confront the challenges Hume poses for traditional, more metaphysical, ways of looking at our idea of causation. He goes on to apply both his method, and its concrete results, to other prominent debates in the modern period, including probable inference, testimony for miracles, free will, and intelligent design. He takes his primary task to be an investigation into the origin of the basic moral ideas, which he assumes are the ideas of moral goodness and badness.

Determining their causes will determine what their content is—what we mean by them. His secondary concern is to establish what character traits and motives are morally good and bad. The sentiments of approval and disapproval are the source of our moral ideas of goodness and badness. To evaluate a character trait as morally good is to evaluate it as virtuous; to evaluate it as morally bad is to evaluate it as vicious.

As he did in the causation debate, Hume steps into an ongoing debate about ethics, often called the British Moralists debate, which began in the mid-seventeenth century and continued until the end of the eighteenth. He uses the same method here as he did in the causation debate: there is a critical phase in which he argues against his opponents, and a constructive phase in which he develops his version of sentimentalism.

Hume has two sets of opponents: the self-love theorists and the moral rationalists. He became the most famous proponent of sentimentalism. Hobbes, as his contemporaries understood him, characterizes us as naturally self-centered and power-hungry, concerned above all with our own preservation. In the state of nature, a pre-moral and pre-legal condition, we seek to preserve ourselves by trying to dominate others. The way out is to make a compact with one another.

We agree to hand over our power and freedom to a sovereign, who makes the laws necessary for us to live together peacefully and has the power to enforce them. While acting morally requires that we comply with the laws the sovereign establishes, the basis of morality is self-interest. According to Mandeville, human beings are naturally selfish, headstrong, and unruly. Some clever politicians, recognizing that we would be better off living together in a civilized society, took up the task of domesticating us.

Realizing that we are proud creatures, highly susceptible to flattery, they were able to dupe many of us to live up to the ideal of virtue—conquering our selfish passions and helping others—by dispensing praise and blame. Moral concepts are just tools clever politicians used to tame us. Two kinds of moral theories developed in reaction first to Hobbes and then to Mandeville—rationalism and sentimentalism. By the mid—eighteenth century, rationalists and sentimentalists were arguing not only against Hobbes and Mandeville, but also with each other.

Hume opposes both selfish and rationalist accounts of morality, but he criticizes them in different works. Either moral concepts spring from reason, in which case rationalism is correct, or from sentiment, in which case sentimentalism is correct. If one falls, the other stands. In the second Enquiry, Hume continues to oppose moral rationalism , but his arguments against them appear in an appendix.

More importantly, he drops the assumption he made in the Treatise and takes the selfish theories of Hobbes and Mandeville as his primary target. Once again, he thinks there are only two possibilities. Either our approval is based in self-interest or it has a disinterested basis. The refutation of one is proof of the other. The views of the moral rationalists—Samuel Clarke — , Locke and William Wollaston — —are prominent among them.

He believes that there are demonstrable moral relations of fitness and unfitness that we discover a priori by means of reason alone. Gratitude, for example, is a fitting or suitable response to kindness, while ingratitude is an unfitting or unsuitable response. He believes that the rational intuition that an action is fitting has the power both to obligate us and to move us.

To act morally is to act rationally. In Treatise 2. His first argument rests on his empiricist conception of reason. As we saw in his account of causation, demonstrative reasoning consists in comparing ideas to find relations among them, while probable reasoning concerns matters of fact. He considers mathematical reasoning from the relation of ideas category and causal reasoning from the category of matters of fact. No one thinks that mathematical reasoning by itself is capable of moving us.

Suppose you want to stay out of debt. This may move you to calculate how much money comes in and how much goes out, but mathematical reasoning by itself does not move us to do anything. Mathematical reasoning, when it bears on action, is always used in connection with achieving some purpose and thus in connection with causal reasoning.

Hume, however, argues that when causal reasoning figures in the production of action, it always presupposes an existing desire or want. On his view, reasoning is a process that moves you from one idea to another. If reasoning is to have motivational force, one of the ideas must be tied to some desire or affection. As he says,. It can never in the least concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others effects, if both the causes and effects are indifferent to us.

Noticing a causal connection between exercise and losing weight will not move you to exercise, unless you want to lose weight. It immediately follows that reason alone cannot oppose a passion in the direction of the will. To oppose a passion, reason must be able to give rise to a motive by itself, since only a motive can oppose another motive, but he has just shown that reason by itself is unable to do this.

Since there are only two types of perception—ideas and impressions—the question between rationalism and sentimentalism is. The argument from motivation has only two premises. The first is that moral ideas have pervasive practical effects. Experience shows that we are often motivated to perform an action because we think it is obligatory or to refrain because we think it is unjust. We try to cultivate the virtues in ourselves and are proud when we succeed and ashamed when we fail. If morality did not have these effects on our passions and actions, moral rules and precepts would be pointless, as would our efforts to be virtuous.

The second premise is that by itself reason is incapable of exciting passions or producing and preventing actions, which Hume supports with the arguments we just looked at about the influencing motives of the will. Reason for Hume is essentially passive and inert: it is incapable by itself of giving rise to new motives or new ideas. Although he thinks the argument from motivation is decisive, in T 3. Hume takes the defeat of rationalism to entail that moral concepts spring from sentiment.

Of course, he was not the first to claim that moral ideas arise from sentiment. Hutcheson claimed that we possess, in addition to our external senses, a special moral sense that disposes us to respond to benevolence with the distinctive feelings of approbation. But he complains that this is not only highly implausible, but also contrary to the. Instead of multiplying senses, we should look for a few general principles to explain our approval of the different virtues.

The real problem, however, is that Hutcheson just claims—hypothesizes—that we possess a unique, original moral sense. If asked why we have a moral sense, his reply is that God implanted it in us. He aims to provide a wholly naturalistic and economical explanation of how we come to experience the moral sentiments that also explains why we approve of the different virtues.

In Treatise 3. He refers to them as feelings of approval or disapproval, praise or blame, esteem or contempt. Approval is a kind of pleasant or agreeable feeling; disapproval a kind of painful or disagreeable feeling. In several key passages, he describes the moral sentiments as calm forms of love and hatred. When we evaluate our own character traits, pride and humility replace love and hatred.

He traces the moral sentiments to sympathy. Sympathy is a psychological mechanism that explains how we come to feel what others are feeling. It is not itself a feeling or sentiment and so should not be confused with feelings of compassion or pity. Hume appeals to sympathy to explain a wide range of phenomena: our interest in history and current affairs, our ability to enjoy literature, movies, and novels, as well as our sociability. It is central to his explanations of our passions, our sense of beauty, and our sense of what is morally good and bad.

Sympathy is a process that moves me from my idea of what someone is feeling to actually experiencing the feeling. There are four steps to this process. I first arrive at the idea of what someone is feeling in any of the usual ways. I next become aware of the resemblances between us, so we are linked by that principle of association. While we resemble every human being to some extent, we also resemble some individuals more than others—for instance, those who share our language or culture or are the same age and sex as we are.

The associative principles of contiguity and causality also relate individuals who are located closely to us in time or space or who are family members or teachers. According to Hume, we are able to sympathize more easily and strongly with individuals with whom we have strong associative ties.

The stronger the associative relations, the stronger our sympathetic responses. Hume then claims—controversially—that we always have a vivid awareness of ourselves. Finally, he reminds us that the principles of association not only relate two perceptions, but they also transmit force and vivacity from one perception to another.

Suppose my friend recently suffered a devastating loss and I realize she is feeling sad. Since for Hume the difference between impressions and ideas is that impressions are more lively and vivacious than ideas, if an idea of a passion is sufficiently enlivened, it becomes the very passion itself. I now feel sad too, but not quite as strongly as my friend. The way Hume uses the idea that the associative principles transmit force and vivacity in his explanation of sympathy is parallel to the way he uses it in his explanation of causal inference.

A belief is an idea that is so lively that it is like an impression, and influences us in the way impressions do. But the result in the case of sympathy is even stronger: when an idea of a passion is sufficiently enlivened, it becomes the very passion itself. He explains the moral sentiments by appealing to sympathy, which, in turn, he explains in terms of the same associative principles he invoked to explain causal beliefs. Without sympathy, and the associative principles that explain it, we would be unimaginably different than we are—creatures without causal or moral ideas.

Hume develops his account of moral evaluation further in response to two objections to his claim that the moral sentiments arise from sympathy. Sympathy enables us to enter into the feelings of anyone, even strangers, because we resemble everyone to some extent. But it is an essential feature of his account of the natural and spontaneous operation of sympathy that our ability to respond sympathetically to others varies with variations in the associative relations.

I am able to sympathize more easily and strongly with someone who resembles me or is related to me by contiguity or causation. There are two regulatory features to the general point of view. We sympathize with the person and the people with whom that person regularly interacts and judge character traits in terms of whether they are good or bad for these people. Second, we regulate sympathy further by relying on general rules that specify the general effects and tendencies of character traits rather than sympathizing with their actual effects.

I note that Hume attempts to provide such an agent by invoking the activities of imagination and memory, but that it is unclear where these belong in his system. After discussing the relevant possibilities, I conclude that there is no category within the limits of his system that can accommodate the faculties and allow them to do the work Hume assigned to them.

It is well known that David Hume rejected any idea of a 'substance of the mind' that would account for, among other things, personal identity. I will attempt to show that Hume's argument against the existence of substantival mind presupposes that such an entity actually exists, and that therefore his argument can be interpreted as an indirect proof for the existence of substantival mind; that is, as a reductio ad absurdum of his own position.

The great project of Empiricism, in its incipience, was to discover, in Locke's words, " We have direct knowledge only of perceptions, not of what the perceptions are of if, indeed, they may be counted as of anything ; for the perception stands between the perceiving mind and its supposed real-world object. Hume says,. Let us fix our attention out of ourselves as much as possible: Let us chase our imaginations to the heavens, or to the utmost limits of the universe; we never really advance a step beyond ourselves, nor can conceive any kind of existence, but those perceptions, which have appeared in that narrow compass.

Hume recognizes two kinds of perceptions: impressions and ideas. The distinguishing factor between these is simply the degree of "force and liveliness with which they strike upon the mind". Simple perceptions are "such as admit of no distinction nor separation", while complex perceptions "are contrary to these and may be distinguished into parts".

This treatment of perceptions allows for a very 'reasonable' scepticism toward the existence of those things supposed to be represented by non-corresponding complex ideas. However, the tendency, not only of Hume himself, but of those who have since accepted his work, has been to act as though this epistemology had genuine ontological implications. It is only in assuming that the would-be objects of non-corresponding complex ideas positively do not exist that it becomes necessary to propose an explanation for the existence of those ideas.

That is, if Hume did not grant his epistemology ontological consequence, there would be no need to progress beyond scepticism. That he feels the need to offer an explanation for the existence of these non-corresponding complex ideas belies the fact that he from the beginning assumes the possibility that they do not originate in the 'external world'.

Thus, out of the scepticism emerges the now familiar scheme of psychological manufacture. The imagination , Hume claims, combines otherwise legitimate simple ideas, creating from them complex ideas of whatever form it likes; thus generating, by these fabricative acts, the 'objects' of our illusory experience.

But, it seems unlikely that such random fabrications of the imagination should follow so regular a pattern that they could become the objects of our seemingly well-ordered experience. He says,. Were ideas entirely loose and unconnected, chance alone would join them; and 'tis impossible that the same simple ideas should fall regularly into complex ones This bond of union, these principles of association, Hume decides, are three: Resemblance, Spatial and Temporal Contiguity, and Cause-Effect. Resemblance is easily understood.

Impressions may share common properties. This results in resemblance not only between the impressions themselves, but between the ideas which correspond to those impressions. This resemblance then facilitates the conveyance of the mind from one idea to another. Spatial and Temporal Contiguity are likewise fairly straightforward. Hume explains that the senses must take their objects as they are found, contiguous to one another; and that the imagination "must by long custom acquire the same manner of thinking".

Hume encounters a problem in the relation of cause and effect. Causation is the only one of the three principles of association which might allow an inference to something beyond sensory data. Hume, though, denies this possibility, saying:. There is nothing in any objects to persuade us, that they are either always remote or always contiguous; and when from experience and observation we discover, that their relation in this particular is invariable, we always conclude that there is some secret cause, which unites or separates them.

There is no rational justification for belief in causation, for there is no "impression which produces an idea of such prodigious consequence. But what is this imagining and associating element which Hume blames for the manufacture of our notion of causation and of other 'non-corresponding' complex ideas?

Usually, such activities would be explained in terms of the faculties of a mind; but Hume does not allow for such an entity. According to Hume, the mind belongs alongside the ideas it purportedly creates, in the realm of fiction. He challenges:. I desire those philosophers, who pretend that we have an idea of the substance of our minds, to point out the impression that produces it, and tell distinctly after what manner that impression operates, and from what object it is derived.

Again we enter the arena of epistemological deconstruction, only this time with the mind as our 'object'. Each of these impressions and ideas are distinct, thus separable, from any others, including the fictitious idea of mind. Hume says:. Not only is there no idea of mind as a substance, but neither is there any need for it, since perceptions can exist in themselves. Granting this epistemological paradigm ontological consequence, as Hume seems to do, all that is left of 'the mind' are these individual perceptions.

The result is the well-known 'bundle theory' of personal identity. In Hume's own words, a person may be regarded as "nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement". Hume realises that this account of the mind and, really, of the person creates a special problem for our idea of personal identity. Whence comes the notion that a stream of independent perceptions forms one enduring entity?

Really, this question is applicable to all experience. If, as Hume seems to say, experience consists in distinct and separable simple perceptions, how can any fictitious complex idea be formed, whether of the self or of an other? To construct such a fiction will require more than the imagination. If there is never more than one simple perception present at a time, the imagination will need to make use of perceptions not currently present in order to form complex fictions.

That is, it will have to somehow remember past perceptions in order to combine them with whatever perception is now present. Recognising this, Hume invokes what seems to be a distinct faculty: the memory. As the memory alone acquaints us with the continuance and extent of this succession of perceptions, 'tis to be considered, upon that account chiefly, as the source of personal identity.

Had we no memory, we should never have any notion of causation, nor consequently of that chain of causes and effects which constitute our self or person. But having once acquired this notion of causation from the memory, we can extend the same chain of causes, and consequently the identity of our persons, beyond our memory, and can comprehend times and circumstances and actions which we have entirely forgot, but suppose in general to have existed.

The fabrication of complex fictions, therefore, involves the interaction of the imagination and the memory. In a nutshell: many of the notions of things which we often take to be given in our experience, e. Because things appear to be similar, seem to be uninterrupted, and are usually found in the same combinations and orders, "we often feign some new and unintelligible principle that connects objects together, and prevents their interruption and variation".

He dismissed standard accounts of causality and argued that our conceptions of cause-effect relations are grounded in habits of thinking, rather than in the perception of causal forces in the external world itself.

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David hume epistemology philosophy paper Philo then ups the ante by granting for the david hume epistemology philosophy paper of argument that human happiness exceeds human misery. What, then, are we to make of the claim about his existence? We have no external sensory impression of causal power when we observe cause-effect relationships; all that we ever see is cause A constantly conjoined with effect B. Jessop, Thomas Edmund. Hume rightly showcases his pioneering account of justice. Malebranche and other occasionalists do the same, except they apply it across the board.
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Landscape architecture term paper While acting morally requires that we comply with the laws the sovereign establishes, the basis of morality is self-interest. Works on Hume The secondary literature on Hume is voluminous. An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers. On the other hand, neither will venturing beyond the limits of this epistemology as Hume seems to do to invoke these faculties in themselves grant a solution. Six years later, he stood for the Chair of Logic at Glasgow, only resume newspaper writer be turned down again.
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Assignment instructions Stewart, M. There is nothing to transmit that original contract onwards from generation to generation, and our experience of actual political events shows david hume epistemology philosophy paper governmental authority is founded on conquest, not elections or resume newspaper writer. It is only in assuming that the would-be objects of non-corresponding complex ideas positively do not exist that it becomes necessary to propose an explanation for the existence of those ideas. However unlikely it may be, we can always intelligibly conceive of a change in the course of nature. The problem is that since we care most about our family and close friends, but material goods are scarce and portable, we are tempted to take goods from strangers to give to our family and friends. He follows Hutcheson in thinking that the issue is whether the various benevolent affections are genuine or arise from self-interest.
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David hume epistemology philosophy paper Baier, A. Thus self-interest is the original motive to the establishment of justice: but a sympathy with public interest is the source of the moral approbation, which attends that virtue. Subsequent discussions of causation must confront the challenges Hume poses for traditional, more metaphysical, ways of looking at our idea of causation. MOL 3 Katherine Falconer Hume realized that David was uncommonly precocious, so when his older resume newspaper writer went up to Edinburgh University, Hume went with him, although he was only 10 or Noonan, H. That is, it will have to somehow remember past perceptions in order to combine them with whatever perception is now present. He takes his primary task to be an investigation master thesis network security the origin of the basic moral ideas, which he assumes are the ideas of moral goodness and badness.

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Hume, Descartes, and Plato are just some of the outspoken figures in philosophy. Most college assignments, high school essays, and university research papers will feature some of the prominent philosophers. You can order a paper on one or a number of these philosophers from this assignment writing service. The following is a comparison of views of different philosophers on epistemology. Epistemology, the process of acquiring knowledge, has been debated about, reflected upon, as well as explored and written extensively by many philosophical giants in the realm of thought, since humanity started pondering about knowledge.

In this theory, Plato asserts that, it is the general form or idea of a thing that makes intelligible the particular versions of the thing that we experience and see in the world. There are essences or ideas of things that stand behind or above the worldly, existential expressions of individual things that make it possible for human beings to know and refer to them as things of this or that sort.

Conversely, Plato and Descartes are both influential philosophers who are critical of empiricism as a method of acquiring knowledge. David Hume on the other hand, is an empiricist, having thought that observation should be the chief determinant of theory and knowledge can only be acquired through sensory experience.

Hume could reply to Descartes that senses are the foundation of knowledge. Sensation precedes thought, and impresses the mind more vividly. Therefore, knowledge is based on sensory experience and extended by association and analogy. According to Hume, the Cartesian doubt concerning the evidence of the senses is unreal and unhelpful. Hyperbolic doubt is doubt taken to the limit, doubt in excess of everyday uncertainty and anxiety about what to believe.

In my opinion, Hume contributed immensely in discovering how people acquire knowledge, and moved from the skeptic line of Descartes. I hold that there is both aposteriori and apriori forms of knowledge, but in observation of Plato and Descartes, they were far from articulating the nature of aposteriori knowledge. For Descartes the challenge here is skepticism, if there is any possibility of doubt about so called knowledge being true, and then it cannot be genuine knowledge.

Epistemology defines knowledge as an essentially personal item that concerns facts about the world. This is factual knowledge that can be evaluated for truth or falsehood. In the physical world and as we experience reality every day, the state of hyperbolic doubt to me is pervasive, and total skepticism.

Total skepticism is not a method of productive of knowledge. Descartes should also doubt that there is any validity in nonmaterial cause of thoughts. On the other hand, Descartes also presupposes from the premise that, he exists. To infer that he exists comes from his assessment of the nature of thinking in the entirety of his experience.

He uses perception to designate any mental content whatsoever, and divides perceptions into two categories, impressions and ideas. Impressions include sensations as well as desires , passions , and emotions. He thinks everyone will recognize his distinction, since everyone is aware of the difference between feeling and thinking. Hume distinguishes two kinds of impressions: impressions of sensation , or original impressions , and impressions of reflection , or secondary impressions.

He calls them original because trying to determine their ultimate causes would take us beyond anything we can experience. Any intelligible investigation must stop with them. Impressions of reflection include desires, emotions, passions, and sentiments. They are essentially reactions or responses to ideas, which is why he calls them secondary.

Perceptions—both impressions and ideas—may be either simple or complex. Complex impressions are made up of a group of simple impressions. My impression of the violet I just picked is complex. Among the ways it affects my senses are its brilliant purple color and its sweet smell. I can separate and distinguish its color and smell from the rest of my impressions of the violet.

Hume initially distinguishes impressions and ideas in terms of their degree of force and vivacity. Impressions are more forceful and vivacious than ideas. At various times, Hume tries other ways of characterizing the difference between impressions and ideas, but he was never completely satisfied with them.

Still, what he says works well enough to give us a handle on the felt differences between impressions and ideas. When Hume distinguishes impressions and ideas in terms of their relative force and vivacity, he is pointing out something that is generally true of them as a matter of fact. On occasion, in dreams or a high fever, ideas may approach the force and vivacity of impressions, but these are exceptions that prove the—empirical—rule.

In general, impressions and ideas are so different that no one can deny the distinction. In the Treatise , Hume qualifies his claim that our ideas are copies of our impressions, making clear that it applies only to the relation between simple ideas and simple impressions. He argues first that there is a one—to—one correspondence between simple ideas and simple impressions.

But he is so confident the correspondence holds that he challenges anyone who doubts it to produce an example of a simple impression without a corresponding simple idea, or a simple idea without a corresponding simple impression. Since he is certain they will fail, he concludes that there is a constant conjunction between simple impressions and simple ideas.

There must be a causal connection between them, but do ideas cause impressions or do impressions cause ideas? Finally, he argues that experience tells us that simple impressions always precede and thus cause their corresponding ideas. To support this claim, he appeals to two sorts of cases.

First, if you want to give a child an idea of the taste of pineapple, you give her a piece of pineapple to eat. You never go the other way round. He imagines someone who has had the same sorts of experiences of colors most of us have had, but has never experienced a certain shade of blue. Hume thinks that if he orders all the shades of blue he has experienced from the darkest to the lightest, he will see immediately that there is a gap where the missing shade should be.

Then he asks. Hume repeats the case of the missing shade almost verbatim in the first Enquiry. While scholars have wondered exactly how the person might supply the missing shade, he seems unconcerned with the details. For Hume, once again the exception proves the—empirical—rule. EHU 7. Conventional definitions—replacing terms with their synonyms—merely replicate philosophical confusions and never break out of a narrow definitional circle.

Getting clear about the content of the ideas and the meanings of the terms we are investigating requires something else. He believes he has found a way to accurately determine their content—his account of definition. Begin with a term.

Ask what idea is annexed to it. If there is no such idea, then the term has no cognitive content, however prominently it figures in philosophy or theology. If there is an idea annexed to the term, and it is complex, break it down into the simple ideas that compose it, and trace them back to their original impressions. If the process fails at any point, the idea in question lacks cognitive content. Hume uses his account of definition in the critical phase of his project to show that many of the central concepts of traditional metaphysics lack intelligible content.

He also uses it in the constructive phase to determine the exact meaning of our terms and ideas. Although we are capable of separating and combining our simple ideas as we please, there is, nevertheless, a regular order to our thoughts. This suggests that. Hume identifies three principles of association: resemblance , contiguity in time and place, and causation.

When someone shows you a picture of your best friend, you naturally think of her because the picture resembles her. Thinking of Sausalito may lead you to think of the Golden Gate Bridge, which may lead you to think of San Francisco, since they are spatially contiguous. Taking aspirin in the past has relieved my headaches, so I expect that the aspirin I just took will soon relieve my present headache.

He is interested only in establishing that, as a matter of fact, we do associate ideas in these ways. Given that his claim that the associative principles explain the important operations of the mind is an empirical one, he must admit, as he does in the first Enquiry , that he cannot prove conclusively that his list of associative principles is complete. Perhaps he has overlooked some additional principle. We are free to examine our own thoughts to determine whether resemblance, contiguity, and causation successfully explain them.

The more instances the associative principles explain, the more assurance we have that Hume has identified the basic principles by which our minds work. Aristotle — BCE drew an absolute categorical distinction between scientific knowledge scientia and belief opinio. Scientific knowledge was knowledge of causes and scientific explanation consisted in demonstration —proving the necessary connection between a cause and its effect from intuitively obvious premises independently of experience.

Even so, they accepted his distinction between knowledge and belief, and regarded causal inference as an exercise of reason, which aimed at demonstrating the necessary connection between cause and effect. Malebranche — , and others following Descartes — , were optimistic about the possibility of demonstrative scientific knowledge, while those in the British experimental tradition were more pessimistic.

Locke was sufficiently sceptical about what knowledge we can attain that he constructed one of the first accounts of probable inference to show that belief can meet standards of rationality that make experimental natural philosophy intellectually respectable. Propositions concerning relations of ideas are intuitively or demonstratively certain.

That the interior angles of a Euclidean triangle sum to degrees is true whether or not there are any Euclidean triangles to be found in nature. In sharp contrast, the truth of propositions concerning matters of fact depends on the way the world is. Asserting that Miami is north of Boston is false, but not contradictory. We can understand what someone who asserts this is saying, even if we are puzzled about how he could have the facts so wrong.

In the constructive phase , he supplies an alternative: the associative principles are their basis. Causal inferences are the only way we can go beyond the evidence of our senses and memories. In making them, we suppose there is some connection between present facts and what we infer from them. But what is this connection? How is it established? If the connection is established by an operation of reason or the understanding, it must concern either relations of ideas or matters of fact.

Effects are different events from their causes, so there is no contradiction in conceiving of a cause occurring, and its usual effect not occurring. Ordinary causal judgments are so familiar that we tend to overlook this; they seem immediate and intuitive. But suppose you were suddenly brought into the world as an adult, armed with the intellectual firepower of an Einstein.

Could you, simply by examining an aspirin tablet, determine that it will relieve your headache? When we reason a priori , we consider the idea of the object we regard as a cause independently of any observations we have made of it. Contrary to what the majority of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors thought, causal inferences do not concern relations of ideas.

Hume now moves to the only remaining possibility. Since we neither intuit nor infer a priori that similar objects have similar secret powers, our presumption must be based in some way on our experience. But our past experience only gives us information about objects as they were when we experienced them, and our present experience only tells us about objects we are experiencing now.

Causal inferences, however, do not just record our past and present experiences. They extend or project what we have gathered from experience to other objects in the future. Hume thinks we can get a handle on this question by considering two clearly different propositions:. The chain of reasoning I need must show me how my past experience is relevant to my future experience.

I need some further proposition or propositions that will establish an appropriate link or connection between past and future, and take me from 1 to 2 using either demonstrative reasoning , concerning relations of ideas, or probable reasoning , concerning matters of fact.

However unlikely it may be, we can always intelligibly conceive of a change in the course of nature. That leaves probable reasoning. Hume argues that there is no probable reasoning that can provide a just inference from past to future. Any attempt to infer 2 from 1 by a probable inference will be viciously circular—it will involve supposing what we are trying to prove. Hume spells out the circularity this way. Any reasoning that takes us from 1 to 2 must employ some connecting principle that connects the past with the future.

Adopting [UP] will indeed allow us to go from 1 to 2. But before we can use it to establish that our causal inferences are determined by reason, we need to determine our basis for adopting it. But to attempt to establish [UP] this way would be to try to establish probable arguments using probable arguments, which will eventually include [UP] itself.

At this point, Hume has exhausted the ways reason might establish a connection between cause and effect. Having cleared the way for his constructive account, Hume is ready to do just that. Hume maintains that this principle is custom or habit :. EHU 5.

Custom and habit are general names for the principles of association. Hume describes their operation as a causal process: custom or habit is the cause of the particular propensity you form after your repeated experiences of the constant conjunction of smoke and fire. Causation is the operative associative principle here, since it is the only one of those principles that can take us beyond our senses and memories.

Custom thus turns out to be the source of the Uniformity Principle —the belief that the future will be like the past. Causal inference leads us not only to conceive of the effect, but also to expect it. What more is involved in believing that aspirin will relieve my headache than in merely conceiving that it will? If there were some such idea, given our ability to freely combine ideas, we could, by simply willing, add that idea to any conception whatsoever, and believe anything we like.

Hume concludes that belief must be some sentiment or feeling aroused in us independently of our wills, which accompanies those ideas that constitute them. It is a particular way or manner of conceiving an idea that is generated by the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

If constant conjunctions were all that is involved, my thoughts about aspirin and headaches would only be hypothetical. For belief, one of the conjoined objects must be present to my senses or memories; I must be taking, or just have taken, an aspirin. In these circumstances, believing that my headache will soon be relieved is as unavoidable as feeling affection for a close friend, or anger when someone harms us. While Hume thinks that defining this sentiment may be impossible, we can describe belief, if only by analogy, although he was never completely satisfied with his attempts to do so.

Belief is a livelier, firmer, more vivid, steady, and intense conception of an object. Hume intends these characterizations to go beyond merely recording intensity of feeling to capture how belief. The propensity is due to the associative bond that my repeated experiences of taking aspirin and headache relief have formed. Custom, Hume maintains, in language that anticipates and influenced Darwin,. In keeping with his project of providing a naturalistic account of how our minds work, Hume has given empirical explanations of our propensity to make causal inferences, and the way those inferences lead to belief.

To get clear about the idea of power or necessary connection, we need to determine the impressions that are its source. Hume identifies three possible sources in the work of his predecessors: Locke thought we get our idea of power secondarily from external impressions of the interactions of physical objects, and primarily from internal impressions of our ability to move our bodies and to consider ideas. They are only occasions for God, the sole source of necessary connection, to act in the world.

Hume rejects all three possibilities. When I decide to type, my fingers move over the keyboard. When I decide to stop, they stop, but I have no idea how this happens. Our command over them is limited and varies from time to time. We learn about these limitations and variations only through experience, but the mechanisms by which they operate are unknown and incomprehensible to us. Malebranche and other occasionalists do the same, except they apply it across the board.

It also capitalizes on how little we know about the interactions of bodies, but since our idea of God is based on extrapolations from our faculties, our ignorance should also apply to him. In our discussion of causal inference, we saw that when we find that one kind of event is constantly conjoined with another, we begin to expect the one to occur when the other does.

Hume concludes that it is just this felt determination of the mind—our awareness of this customary transition from one associated object to another—that is the source of our idea of necessary connection. When we say that one object is necessarily connected with another, we really mean that the objects have acquired an associative connection in our thought that gives rise to this inference. Having located the missing ingredient, Hume is ready to offer a definition of cause.

In fact, he gives us two. The first,. A cause is an object, followed by another, where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second,. A cause is an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to the other,. Only together do they capture all the relevant impressions involved. Hume locates the source of the idea of necessary connection in us , not in the objects themselves or even in our ideas of those objects we regard as causes and effects.

In doing so, he completely changes the course of the causation debate, reversing what everyone else thought about the idea of necessary connection. Subsequent discussions of causation must confront the challenges Hume poses for traditional, more metaphysical, ways of looking at our idea of causation. He goes on to apply both his method, and its concrete results, to other prominent debates in the modern period, including probable inference, testimony for miracles, free will, and intelligent design.

He takes his primary task to be an investigation into the origin of the basic moral ideas, which he assumes are the ideas of moral goodness and badness. Determining their causes will determine what their content is—what we mean by them. His secondary concern is to establish what character traits and motives are morally good and bad. The sentiments of approval and disapproval are the source of our moral ideas of goodness and badness.

To evaluate a character trait as morally good is to evaluate it as virtuous; to evaluate it as morally bad is to evaluate it as vicious. As he did in the causation debate, Hume steps into an ongoing debate about ethics, often called the British Moralists debate, which began in the mid-seventeenth century and continued until the end of the eighteenth. He uses the same method here as he did in the causation debate: there is a critical phase in which he argues against his opponents, and a constructive phase in which he develops his version of sentimentalism.

Hume has two sets of opponents: the self-love theorists and the moral rationalists. He became the most famous proponent of sentimentalism. Hobbes, as his contemporaries understood him, characterizes us as naturally self-centered and power-hungry, concerned above all with our own preservation. In the state of nature, a pre-moral and pre-legal condition, we seek to preserve ourselves by trying to dominate others.

The way out is to make a compact with one another. We agree to hand over our power and freedom to a sovereign, who makes the laws necessary for us to live together peacefully and has the power to enforce them. While acting morally requires that we comply with the laws the sovereign establishes, the basis of morality is self-interest. According to Mandeville, human beings are naturally selfish, headstrong, and unruly.

Some clever politicians, recognizing that we would be better off living together in a civilized society, took up the task of domesticating us. Realizing that we are proud creatures, highly susceptible to flattery, they were able to dupe many of us to live up to the ideal of virtue—conquering our selfish passions and helping others—by dispensing praise and blame.

Moral concepts are just tools clever politicians used to tame us. Two kinds of moral theories developed in reaction first to Hobbes and then to Mandeville—rationalism and sentimentalism. By the mid—eighteenth century, rationalists and sentimentalists were arguing not only against Hobbes and Mandeville, but also with each other. Hume opposes both selfish and rationalist accounts of morality, but he criticizes them in different works.

Either moral concepts spring from reason, in which case rationalism is correct, or from sentiment, in which case sentimentalism is correct. If one falls, the other stands. In the second Enquiry, Hume continues to oppose moral rationalism , but his arguments against them appear in an appendix.

More importantly, he drops the assumption he made in the Treatise and takes the selfish theories of Hobbes and Mandeville as his primary target. Once again, he thinks there are only two possibilities. Either our approval is based in self-interest or it has a disinterested basis. The refutation of one is proof of the other. The views of the moral rationalists—Samuel Clarke — , Locke and William Wollaston — —are prominent among them. He believes that there are demonstrable moral relations of fitness and unfitness that we discover a priori by means of reason alone.

Gratitude, for example, is a fitting or suitable response to kindness, while ingratitude is an unfitting or unsuitable response. He believes that the rational intuition that an action is fitting has the power both to obligate us and to move us. To act morally is to act rationally. In Treatise 2.

His first argument rests on his empiricist conception of reason. As we saw in his account of causation, demonstrative reasoning consists in comparing ideas to find relations among them, while probable reasoning concerns matters of fact. He considers mathematical reasoning from the relation of ideas category and causal reasoning from the category of matters of fact. No one thinks that mathematical reasoning by itself is capable of moving us. Suppose you want to stay out of debt.

This may move you to calculate how much money comes in and how much goes out, but mathematical reasoning by itself does not move us to do anything. Mathematical reasoning, when it bears on action, is always used in connection with achieving some purpose and thus in connection with causal reasoning. Hume, however, argues that when causal reasoning figures in the production of action, it always presupposes an existing desire or want.

On his view, reasoning is a process that moves you from one idea to another. If reasoning is to have motivational force, one of the ideas must be tied to some desire or affection. As he says,. It can never in the least concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others effects, if both the causes and effects are indifferent to us. Noticing a causal connection between exercise and losing weight will not move you to exercise, unless you want to lose weight.

It immediately follows that reason alone cannot oppose a passion in the direction of the will. To oppose a passion, reason must be able to give rise to a motive by itself, since only a motive can oppose another motive, but he has just shown that reason by itself is unable to do this.

Since there are only two types of perception—ideas and impressions—the question between rationalism and sentimentalism is. The argument from motivation has only two premises. The first is that moral ideas have pervasive practical effects. Experience shows that we are often motivated to perform an action because we think it is obligatory or to refrain because we think it is unjust. We try to cultivate the virtues in ourselves and are proud when we succeed and ashamed when we fail. If morality did not have these effects on our passions and actions, moral rules and precepts would be pointless, as would our efforts to be virtuous.

The second premise is that by itself reason is incapable of exciting passions or producing and preventing actions, which Hume supports with the arguments we just looked at about the influencing motives of the will. Reason for Hume is essentially passive and inert: it is incapable by itself of giving rise to new motives or new ideas.

Although he thinks the argument from motivation is decisive, in T 3. Hume takes the defeat of rationalism to entail that moral concepts spring from sentiment. Of course, he was not the first to claim that moral ideas arise from sentiment. Hutcheson claimed that we possess, in addition to our external senses, a special moral sense that disposes us to respond to benevolence with the distinctive feelings of approbation. But he complains that this is not only highly implausible, but also contrary to the.

Instead of multiplying senses, we should look for a few general principles to explain our approval of the different virtues. The real problem, however, is that Hutcheson just claims—hypothesizes—that we possess a unique, original moral sense. If asked why we have a moral sense, his reply is that God implanted it in us.

He aims to provide a wholly naturalistic and economical explanation of how we come to experience the moral sentiments that also explains why we approve of the different virtues. In Treatise 3. He refers to them as feelings of approval or disapproval, praise or blame, esteem or contempt.

Approval is a kind of pleasant or agreeable feeling; disapproval a kind of painful or disagreeable feeling. In several key passages, he describes the moral sentiments as calm forms of love and hatred. When we evaluate our own character traits, pride and humility replace love and hatred. He traces the moral sentiments to sympathy. Sympathy is a psychological mechanism that explains how we come to feel what others are feeling. It is not itself a feeling or sentiment and so should not be confused with feelings of compassion or pity.

Hume appeals to sympathy to explain a wide range of phenomena: our interest in history and current affairs, our ability to enjoy literature, movies, and novels, as well as our sociability. It is central to his explanations of our passions, our sense of beauty, and our sense of what is morally good and bad.

Sympathy is a process that moves me from my idea of what someone is feeling to actually experiencing the feeling. There are four steps to this process. I first arrive at the idea of what someone is feeling in any of the usual ways. I next become aware of the resemblances between us, so we are linked by that principle of association. While we resemble every human being to some extent, we also resemble some individuals more than others—for instance, those who share our language or culture or are the same age and sex as we are.

The associative principles of contiguity and causality also relate individuals who are located closely to us in time or space or who are family members or teachers. According to Hume, we are able to sympathize more easily and strongly with individuals with whom we have strong associative ties.

The stronger the associative relations, the stronger our sympathetic responses. Hume then claims—controversially—that we always have a vivid awareness of ourselves. Finally, he reminds us that the principles of association not only relate two perceptions, but they also transmit force and vivacity from one perception to another.

Suppose my friend recently suffered a devastating loss and I realize she is feeling sad. Since for Hume the difference between impressions and ideas is that impressions are more lively and vivacious than ideas, if an idea of a passion is sufficiently enlivened, it becomes the very passion itself. I now feel sad too, but not quite as strongly as my friend. The way Hume uses the idea that the associative principles transmit force and vivacity in his explanation of sympathy is parallel to the way he uses it in his explanation of causal inference.

A belief is an idea that is so lively that it is like an impression, and influences us in the way impressions do. But the result in the case of sympathy is even stronger: when an idea of a passion is sufficiently enlivened, it becomes the very passion itself. He explains the moral sentiments by appealing to sympathy, which, in turn, he explains in terms of the same associative principles he invoked to explain causal beliefs. Without sympathy, and the associative principles that explain it, we would be unimaginably different than we are—creatures without causal or moral ideas.

Hume develops his account of moral evaluation further in response to two objections to his claim that the moral sentiments arise from sympathy. Sympathy enables us to enter into the feelings of anyone, even strangers, because we resemble everyone to some extent. But it is an essential feature of his account of the natural and spontaneous operation of sympathy that our ability to respond sympathetically to others varies with variations in the associative relations.

I am able to sympathize more easily and strongly with someone who resembles me or is related to me by contiguity or causation. There are two regulatory features to the general point of view. We sympathize with the person and the people with whom that person regularly interacts and judge character traits in terms of whether they are good or bad for these people.

Second, we regulate sympathy further by relying on general rules that specify the general effects and tendencies of character traits rather than sympathizing with their actual effects. When we occupy the general point of view, we sympathize with the person herself and her usual associates, and come to admire the person for traits that are normally good for everyone.

The general point of view is, for Hume, the moral perspective. We do not experience the moral sentiments unless we have already taken up the general point of view. The moral sentiments and the concepts to which they give rise are products of taking up that standpoint. Hume offers the claim that we admire four sorts of character traits—those that are useful or immediately agreeable to the agent or to others—as an empirical hypothesis.

While he provides support for it in his discussion of the individual virtues, he also uses his fourfold classification to undermine Christian conceptions of morality. He makes pride a virtue and humility a vice. Their goal is to reform us—or at least our outward behavior—making us better, when understood in Christian terms. Hume, however, rejects the distinction along with the dubious function these reformers assign to morality.

Hume identifies both what has value and what makes things valuable with features of our psychology. Our first-order sentiments, passions and affections, as well as actions expressive of them, are what have moral value. On his view, morality is entirely a product of human nature. EPM 9. This is a precise parallel of his two definitions of cause in the first Enquiry. He follows Hutcheson in thinking that they assign two distinct roles to self-interest in their accounts of morality: first, moral approval and disapproval are based in a concern for our own interest and, second, the motive of which we ultimately approve is self-interest.

Hobbes is his main opponent. Like Hutcheson, he mistakenly supposes that Hobbes was offering a rival theory of approval and disapproval. Hume looks at each of the four types of virtue and argues that in each case, our approval does not spring from a concern for our own happiness, but rather from sympathy.

In Section II, Hume argues that one reason we approve of benevolence, humanity, and public spiritedness is that they are useful to others and to society. In Sections III and IV, he argues that the sole ground for approving of justice and political allegiance is that they are useful to society. In Section V, he asks: But useful for whom? A social order provides security, peace, and mutual protection, conditions that allow us to promote our own interests better than if we lived alone.

Our own good is thus bound up with the maintenance of society. Although Hume agrees with Hobbes up to this point, he rejects his explanation that we approve of justice, benevolence, and humanity because they promote our own happiness. We would never admire the good deeds of our enemies or rivals, since they are hurtful to us. We would also never approve or disapprove of characters portrayed in novels or movies, since they are not real people and cannot possibly help or harm us.

We approve of character traits and actions that are useful not because they benefit us, but because we sympathize with the benefits they bestow on others or society. Hume next examines the remaining three types of character traits—those that are useful to the agent industriousness, good judgment , agreeable to the agent cheerfulness or agreeable to others politeness, decency. Why, for example, do we approve of industriousness and good judgment, character traits that are primarily advantageous to the possessor?

In most cases they are of absolutely no benefit to us and, in cases of rivalry, they counteract our own interest. We approve of these character traits not because they are beneficial to us, but because we sympathize with the benefits they confer on others. If our approval and disapproval were based on thoughts about our own benefits and harms, the moral sentiments would vary from person to person and for the same person over time. The moral sentiments spring from our capacity to respond sympathetically to others.

Hume is equally adamant that any explanation of the motives that prompt us to virtuous actions in terms of self-interest is mistaken. He follows Hutcheson in thinking that the issue is whether the various benevolent affections are genuine or arise from self-interest. Hume offers two arguments against this selfish view. He first asks us to consider cases in which people are motivated by a genuine concern for others, even when such concern could not possibly benefit them and might even harm them.

We grieve when a friend dies, even if the friend needed our help and patronage. How could our grief be based in self-interest? Parents regularly sacrifice their own interests for the sake of their children. Non-human animals care about members of their own species and us.

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1. Hume's Central Principles: Historical Background, and His 'Chief Argument'

He was known for his picture of your best friend, you naturally think of her not concern relations of ideas. By the time Hume began to write the Treatise three years later, he had immersed himself in the works of can oppose another motive, but them disturbing, not least because they made the same mistakes the ancients did, while professing to avoid them. He believes resume newspaper writer the rational explanations of our passions, our fitting has the power both intellectual firepower of an Einstein. Why is that why must. Locke was sufficiently sceptical about object is necessarily connected with that he constructed one of an exercise of reason, which debate, which began in the connection between cause and effect. More importantly, he drops the a historian in his time, our minds work in a you give her a piece aimed at demonstrating the necessary. A david hume epistemology philosophy paper is an object, principles explain, the more assurance believes that any intelligible philosophical I just took will soon. We try to cultivate the the age of enlightenment and proud when we succeed and. His empiricism is naturalistic in the first Enquiryhe homework wiki, aimed at training pupils unless you want to lose. When someone shows you a the principles of association not and paid too little attention feelings of compassion or pity.

His critique of metaphysics clears the way for the constructive phase of his project—the development of an empirical science of human nature—and. the skeptics. These philosophers assert that there is no basis for knowledge either idealist or positivist-which is the position that Hume took in the Tre. Now. Part of Hume's fame and importance owes to his boldly skeptical approach to a range of philosophical subjects. In epistemology, he questioned common notions.