David Hume's Theory of Ethics Essay

David Hume's Theory of Ethics Essay

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David Hume is considered to be one of the big three British empiricists, along with Hobbes and Locke, and lived near the end of the Enlightenment. The Catholic Church was losing its control over science, politics and philosophy and the Aristotelian world view was being swallowed up by a more mechanistic viewpoint. Galileo found the theory provided by Copernicus to be correct, that our earth was not the center of everything, but the celestial bodies including the earth circled the sun. Mathematicians abounded. Pascal developed the first mechanical calculator and Newtonian physics was breaking new ground. Not even the arts were immune. Within the same era Mary Shelley authored Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus. The main theme for this novel was the effects science was having on humanity. The scientific revolution was well underway and set to become the new religion. Hume attempted to strip the omnipotence of both divinity and reason and place it squarely on human experience. To try and secure anything beyond our realm of natural human experience is an exercise in futility. We are trapped behind the wall of human sensory experience. Hume suggests that complex ideas come from simple ideas, and ideas come from impressions. These impressions are arrived at through perception. “Ideas produce the images of themselves in new ideas; but as the first ideas are supposed to be derived from impressions, it still remains true, that all our simple ideas proceed either mediately or immediately, from their correspondent impressions.” Hume uses “mitigated skepticism” with surgical precision. While this is the same methodology that Rene Descartes used to arrive at his well known declaration “I think therefore I am” it has drastically different...


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