Inconsistencies in Hume's Empirical Thought

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Inconsistencies in Hume's Empirical Thought In his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume attempts to uncover the ultimate truth about where our knowledge comes from. This leads him to suggest that all our ideas and knowledge arise from outward experiences and sensations. He attempts to prove this by solving the "problem of induction." I disagree with Hume's ideas, and in this essay I will explain why. I shall begin by explaining the problem of induction, and the sceptical doubts Hume raises concerning the inductive process. I will then explain how Hume solves the problem. Finally, I will conclude by offering a critique of Hume's doctrine, and explain why I find it to be inconsistent. In order to understand Hume's problem of induction, it is first necessary to understand the principles upon which it stands. At the outset of his work, Hume declares that "all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones."1 He justifies this statement by two arguments. Firstly, he analyzes the roots of our knowledge, and discerns that all knowledge has its origins in "a precedent feeling or sentiment"2 To Hume, even the idea of God is derrived from a prior sensation. He argues that we can have an idea of God simply by augmenting our ideas of wisdom and goodness. Essentially, we can multiply the goodness that we sense or experience up to infinity, in order to have an idea of God. Secondly, Hume states that all knowledge must come from sensations. To illustrate this, he uses the example of a blind man. A blind man will have no idea or impression of the colour blue. Since he has never seen blue, let alone colour, there is no possible way for him to know what blue is. Thu... ... middle of paper ... ...tions, Iran; [no date available] Steinberg, Eric [ed]. David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Second Edition. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis; 1977 De Sousa, Ronnie. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~sousa/PHL100/hume1.html As of Friday April 9th. De Sousa, Ronnie. http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~sousa/PHL100/hume1.html As of Friday April 9th. 1 Steinberg, Eric [ed.] David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. P. 11 2 Ibid. P. 11 3 Ibid. P. 14 4 Ibid. P. 15 5 Hume must be referring to a perfect 360-degree circle or 180-degree triangle 6 Ibid. P. 15 7 Ibid. P. 16 8 Ibid. P. 16 9 Ibid. P. 17 10 Ibid. P. 19 11 Ibid. P. 21 12 I'm assuming here that no one has been able to sustain self-propelled flight. 13 As-Sadr, Muhammad Baqir. Our Philosophy. P. 52

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