David Hume 's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Essay

David Hume 's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Essay

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Everyone will easily agree that there is a noticeable difference between the perceptions of the mind. David Hume recognises these differences and divides the mental contents into two classes, which are ideas, and impressions. Hume has provided arguments in order to support his claim of the ‘Copy Principle’, which state that ideas are copies of impressions, and every idea is derived from an impression. He proposes this principle, in an attempt to explain how we form the beliefs about the world. While his claim is wildly accepted by many philosophers, there are still problems to his principle which Hume ignored as something insufficient. By analysing sections 2 of David Hume’s “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, we are able to distinguish the difference between ideas and impression, while at the same time puts Hume’s ‘Copy Principle’ to the test.

David Hume recognises that all the contents of the mind are distinguished into impressions and ideas, in which they differ only in force and vivacity. Impression is vivid and lively, whereas ideas arise from the reflection of our impressions, and they are less forceful than impression. Impressions on some circumstances such as in sleep, fever or madness are mistaken for ideas, because they are so weak. On the other hand, ideas in those situations are often mistaken as equivalent to impressions. Hume argues that new complex ideas are derived from the combination of simple ideas, which were copied from earlier feelings, or sensations. To support his argument, he proposed the “Copy principle”, which states that all ideas are copied from impressions. Ideas built from impression can arise independently of their impressions, and each of them is distinct from the others. Hume offers two ar...


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... and divides mental contents into ideas, and impressions. Ideas are naturally weak and complicated, so that the mind has only a forceless hold on them. We tend to assume that a given word is associated with a determinate idea, because we have used it. In contrast, impressions are strong and vivid. According to Hume, without having a particular experience, a person lacks in the ability form an idea of that experience. If we intend to convey an idea of an external object, we will present them with the corresponding impression. Based on these two arguments, Hume has created this ‘Copy Principle’ which states that all ideas are copies of impressions. While there is counterexample to oppose his theory, Hume believes it is insignificant. As Hume’s principle deem logical to many, there are still problems which it need to overcome before people can treat them as the truth.

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