David Hume, in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, discusses how we cannot predict the future. Even though our experiences and our reasoning tell us that objects act in a predictable way, we still cannot prove how objects will act in the future based upon previous interactions. After biting into a piece of pizza we expect an enjoyable taste. This enjoyable taste is expected because our past experiences have proven this to us. Even though we think we can predict that the pizza will act the same as our previous experiences, it may just blow up upon biting. Hume explains that there is no way to predict the future based on our previous experiences and reasoning and I will explain the logic he uses to prove this.
May 5, 2014
Compatibilism and Hume
The choices an individual makes are often believed to be by their own doing; there is nothing forcing one action to be done in lieu of another, and the responsibility of one’s actions are on him alone. This idea of Free Will, supported by libertarians and is the belief one is entirely responsible for their own actions, is challenged by Necessity, otherwise known as determinism. Those championing determinism argue every action and event are because of some prior cause. This causation may be by an external driving force, such as a divine power, or simply a chain of events leading up to a specific moment.
In Appendix I., Concerning Moral Sentiment, David Hume looks to find a place in morality for reason, and sentiment. Through, five principles he ultimately concludes that reason has no place within the concept of morality, but rather is something that can only assist sentiment in matters concerning morality. And while reason can be true or false, those truths or falsities apply to facts, not to morality. He then argues morals are the direct result of sentiment, or the inner feeling within a human being. These sentiments are what intrinsically drive and thus create morality within a being. Sentiments such as beauty, revenge, pleasure, pain, create moral motivation, and action, and are immune to falsity and truth. They are the foundation for which morals are built, and exist themselves apart from any reasoning. Thesis: In moral motivation, the role of sentiment is to drive an intrinsically instilled presence within us to examine what we would deem a moral act or an immoral act, and act accordingly, and accurately upon the sentiments that apply. These sentiments may be assisted by reasons, but the reason alone does not drive us to do what we would feel necessary. They can only guide us towards the final result of moral motivation which (by now it’s painfully clear) is sentiment.
In Hume’s enquiry into the human understanding, he argues an end of the controversy that exists between liberty and necessity. In this topic, Hume is referring to the controversy that exists on the issues of free will and determinism. He argues that all human beings of whether they are learned or not face the challenge on the relationship between liberty and determinism. He traces the root cause to this controversy as the failure to give a proper definition of the two terms. His suggestion is that the controversy could easily be solved if all people become careful with their definitions of the terms. He argues that, “For how easy may it seem to give exact definitions of the terms employed in reasoning....” (17). He believes that, in spite of the differences in human beings, all human being has credo that they agree on from both fields of necessity and liberty.
Hume: Vices and Virtues
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems such as those regarding existence, reality, knowledge, values, the human mind and language. “I think, therefore I am” is a famous quotation that attempts to define this study very simply, and the philosopher quoted was Rene Descartes, a 17th century Frenchman who is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Philosophy. David Hume was an 18th century Scotsman who is considered by many to be the most important philosopher ever to write in English. The intention here is to explain Hume’s theory of virtue and vice in the light of his views about practical rationality, which is the use of reason to help one decide how to act.
Even though it was customary for lads to attend schools of higher learning at age fourteen in the 18th century, David Hume started college at Edinburgh University before the age of twelve.
The next major theory on how one obtains knowledge comes from David Hume’s Empiricism. Empiricism itself is the idea that all knowledge obtained is done so through senses or experiences throughout life. This theory itself clearly contrasts with rationalism as rationalists believe at no point that they should gain knowledge through senses/experiences. Furthermore, as an empiricist, he does not value anything that is not attained through experience. One of Hume’s beliefs is the idea that everyone is born with a mental “blank slate”. Because all knowledge we gain is thought to be gained through experience (which a newborn would have none at that point) the “slate” starts as blank and will filled in as the person learns through experiences. This
The reason that Hume believes that human’s inability to understand causation must result in scepticism can be seen through the following claim.
Simply put, Hume believes that because we are incapable of perceiving the totality of existence and the natural laws that dictate it, we falsely connect events in an attempt to derive a visible rationale for everyday occurrences. Yet, given how precise actions and results are, they must be the product of a natural and necessary force --- which, coincidentally, is why we see what we think are connections in the world surrounding us.
In explaining Hume’s critique of the belief in miracles, we must first understand the definition of a miracle. The Webster Dictionary defines a miracle as: a supernatural event regarded as to define action, one of the acts worked by Christ which revealed his divinity an extremely remarkable achievement or event, an unexpected piece of luck. Therefore, a miracle is based on one’s perception of past experiences, what everyone sees. It is based on an individuals own reality, and the faith in which he/she believes in, it is based on interior events such as what we are taught, and exterior events, such as what we hear or see first hand. When studying Hume’s view of a miracle, he interprets or defines a miracle as such; a miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, an event which is not normal to most of mankind. Hume explains this point brilliantly when he states, “Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it has ever happened in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man seemingly in good health should die on a sudden.” (Hume p.888) Hume states that this death is quite unusual, however it seemed to happen naturally. He could only define it as a true miracle if this dead man were to come back to life. This would be a miraculous event because such an experience has not yet been commonly observed. In which case, his philosophical view of a miracle would be true. Hume critiques and discredits the belief in a miracle merely because it goes against the laws of nature.
In this essay I will be discussing a very important conflict that Hume reflects in the conclusion of Book I, A Treatise of Human Nature. The thesis of this essay is to analyze the "conflict" between causal reasoning and the continued existence of external objects. Now, to be more specific I should say that I am inclining on Hume's side about the conflict being real for same thing cannot exist at one time and again at a later time, and also in between or at the same time. To summarize the conflict presented, it basically involves cause and effect, yielding the primary/secondary quality distinction and continued existence of matter depending on secondary qualities. Further, there is an argument for the claim that causal reasoning is of fundamental importance for our knowledge of matters of fact, although the conflict is still a problem. I will argue firmly that the conflict is real by providing several statements that show not in its favor, but against it, and contrary them. These statements will form the basis of discussion of this essay, and at the same time, focusing on the relevancy, that being the thesis.