Hume philosophical essays concerning human understanding

Contemporary Metaphysics of Causation 1.

Hume philosophical essays concerning human understanding

Of sensation external 2. Of reflection internal Hume begins by dividing all mental perceptions between ideas thoughts and impressions sensations and feelingsand then makes two central claims about the relation between them.

That is, for any idea we select, we can trace the component parts of that idea to some external sensation or internal feeling.

This claim places Hume squarely in the empiricist tradition, and he regularly uses this principle as a test for determining the content of an Hume philosophical essays concerning human understanding under consideration.

For example, my impression of a tree is simply more vivid than my idea of that tree. One of his early critics, Lord Monboddo — pointed out an important implication of the liveliness thesis, which Hume himself presumably hides.

Most modern philosophers held that ideas reside in our spiritual minds, whereas impressions originate in our physical bodies. So, when Hume blurs the distinction between ideas and impressions, he is ultimately denying the spiritual nature of ideas and instead grounding them in our physical nature.

In short, all of our mental operations—including our most rational ideas—are physical in nature.

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Hume goes on to explain that there are several mental faculties that are responsible for producing our various ideas. He initially divides ideas between those produced by the memory, and those produced by the imagination. The memory is a faculty that conjures up ideas based on experiences as they happened.

For example, the memory I have of my drive to the store is a comparatively accurate copy of my previous sense impressions of that experience.

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The imagination, by contrast, is a faculty that breaks apart and combines ideas, thus forming new ones. Hume uses the familiar example of a golden mountain: As our imagination takes our most basic ideas and leads us to form new ones, it is directed by three principles of association, namely, resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect.

By virtue of resemblance, an illustration or sketch, of a person leads me to an idea of that actual person. The idea of one apartment in a building leads me to think of the apartment contiguous to—or next to—the first.

The thought of a scar on my hand leads me to think of a broken piece of glass that caused the scar. As indicated in the above chart, our more complex ideas of the imagination are further divided between two categories.

Some imaginative ideas represent flights of the fancy, such as the idea of a golden mountain; however, other imaginative ideas represent solid reasoning, such as predicting the trajectory of a thrown ball.

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The fanciful ideas are derived from the faculty of the fancy, and are the source of fantasies, superstitions, and bad philosophy.

By contrast, sound ideas are derived from the faculty of the understanding—or reason—and are of two types: He dramatically makes this point at the conclusion of his Enquiry: When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make?

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?

Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion Enquiry, Principles of reasoning concerning relations of ideas involving demonstration: In his analysis of these issues in the Treatise, he repeatedly does three things.

First, he skeptically argues that we are unable to gain complete knowledge of some important philosophical notion under consideration. Second, he shows how the understanding gives us a very limited idea of that notion.

Third, he explains how some erroneous views of that notion are grounded in the fancy, and he accordingly recommends that we reject those erroneous ideas. Space On the topic of space, Hume argues that our proper notions of space are confined to our visual and tactile experiences of the three-dimensional world, and we err if we think of space more abstractly and independently of those visual and tactile experiences.

Hume, David: Causation | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Following the above three-part scheme, 1 Hume skeptically argues that we have no ideas of infinitely divisible space Treatise, 1. He accounts for this erroneous notion in terms of a mistaken association that people naturally make between visual and tactile space Treatise, 1.

The idea of time, then, is not a simple idea derived from a simple impression; instead, it is a copy of impressions as they are perceived by the mind at its fixed speed Treatise, 1.

The psychological account of this erroneous view is that we mistake time for the cause of succession instead of seeing it as the effect Treatise, 1. Necessary Connection between Causes and Effects According to Hume, the notion of cause-effect is a complex idea that is made up of three more foundational ideas: If B were to occur before A, then it would be absurd to say that A was the cause of B.

The broken window and the rock must be in proximity with each other. Priority and proximity alone, however, do not make up our entire notion of causality. For example, if I sneeze and the lights go out, I would not conclude that my sneeze was the cause, even though the conditions of priority and proximity were fulfilled.Of the Origin of Ideas.

Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The Harvard Classics. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (, ) edited by Peter Millican What is now known as Hume’s first Enquiry was first published in , by Andrew Millar of the Strand, London, under the title Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding.

Hume philosophical essays concerning human understanding

David Hume: Causation. David Hume () is one of the British Empiricists of the Early Modern period, along with John Locke and George benjaminpohle.comgh the three advocate similar empirical standards for knowledge, that is, that there are no innate ideas and that all knowledge comes from experience, Hume is known for applying this .

Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals was first published in I have drawn this and other information about the various editions of Hume’s writings from two sources: T.

E. Jessop. From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Study Guide .

following pieces to be regarded as the sole source for his philosophical opinions and principles. Section 1: The different kinds of philosophy Moral philosophy, or the science of human nature, can.

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