Hume Vs Kant

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Hume’s ultimate goal in his philosophic endeavors was to undermine abstruse Philosophy. By focusing on the aspect of reason, Hume shows there are limitations to philosophy. Since he did not know the limits, he proposed to use reason to the best of his ability, but when he came to a boundary, that was the limit. He conjectured that we must study reason to find out what is beyond the capability of reason.

Hume began his first examination if the mind by classifying its contents as Perceptions. “Here therefore [he divided] all the perceptions of the mind into two classes or species.” (27) First, Impressions represented an image of something that portrayed an immediate relationship. Secondly, there were thoughts and ideas, which constituted the less vivid impressions. For example, the recalling of a memory. From this distinction, Hume decreed that all ideas had origin within impressions.

From the distinction of perceptions, Hume created his ‘microscope’ in order to trace all ideas back to impressions. He did this to search for the limits. If an idea could not be traced back to its impression, it was too abstruse. Hume separated the objects of human reason into two categories. First, the relation of ideas, which represented all that is ‘a priori’. Secondly, he created the category of matters of fact. Matters of fact made up the ‘a posteriori’ piece of the spectrum of reason. Matters of fact are contingent, meaning they could be otherwise.

In order to go beyond the objects of human reason, Hume proposed that reasoning was based upon cause and effect. Causal relations help us to know things beyond our immediate vicinity. All of our knowledge is based on experience. Therefore, we need experience to come to causal relationships of the world and experience constant conjunction. Hume stated that he “shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition which admits no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not in any instance, attained by reasonings ‘a priori’, but arises entirely from experience.” (42)

Unfortunately, our experience of constant conjunction only tells us about the past. Rationally, that is all it tells us. We can expect the effect to follow the cause, but it is not a sufficient basis to assume the effect will come from the cause in the future. These things are contingent- they could be different. “The connect...

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...n ‘a priori’ aspects. Therefore, the future will resemble the past, because we make it resemble the past.

Kant used understanding, the second faculty of the mind to explain causality. “As the understanding stands in need of categories for experience, reason contains in itself the source of ideas.”(76) The function of understanding is thinking, and thinking must use concepts to be an objective thought. The presence of this objective thought verifies its actuality. Therefore, causality, for Kant, was the way in which mind puts together experiences to understand them.

Kant found many problems within Hume’s account. Through his endeavors to prove that metaphysics is possible, and his analyzing of causality, Kant solved the problems he saw within Hume’s account. Specifically, in the Prolegomena, Kant stated that Hume “justly maintains that we cannot comprehend by reason the possibility of causality.”(57) Kant also attacked Hume’s ideas by describing Hume’s treatment of the concept of causality to be “a bastard of the imagination, impregnated by experience.”(5) Kant succeeded in re- establishing the objectivity of causality, a task that Hume had rejected as impossible.

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