Human Understanding Essay

Human Understanding Essay

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In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume begins by contrasting two aspects of human reasoning, which falls under moral philosophy, or the science of human nature (Hume 1). One aspect focuses on shaping human actions while the other focuses on reason. The first is easy and obvious and the other is abstruse and accurate. Hume shows that the easy and obvious philosophy appears more in common life; it allows humans to become more of what is considered virtuous and encourages sentiments. People who prefer the easy philosophy often think that it is more useful and acceptable than abstruse philosophy. In Section 1, he says that if the advocates for easy and obvious philosophy would cease to belittle abstruse and accurate philosophy, he would have no agreement and would leave it up to people to choose according to their personal desires. However, it is not the case and some advocates suggest that abstruse philosophy also referred to as “metaphysics,” be banished, and so Hume attempts to defend the abstruse philosophy.
Hume continues to show another contrast between perceptions of the mind which fall under the origin of ideas. For example, there is a distinct difference in feeling the pain of extreme heat from fire and merely remembering the heat or anticipating it by using your imagination. Impressions are sensations, and ideas are memories or imaginations. Hume says that memory and imaginations lack the “force and vivacity” of the sensations, “These faculties may mimic or copy the perceptions of the senses; but they never can entirely reach the force and vivacity of the original sentiment” (Hume 10). All of our ideas come from past impressions and Hume uses the examples of a blind man and a deaf man. Hume shows that th...


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...me explains in section V why we believe what we do not know to be true. We learn from experience. Beliefs that are unjustifiable are explained by, humans referring to customs or habit (Hume 28). When humans observe constant conjunction of events they form experience, they then get accustomed to the occurrence and associate them with each other. Hume has used the sun rising as an example before, humans experience the sun rising every morning they associate this with it being morning, and we believe that the sun will rise every morning but cannot prove that it will. Beliefs emerge from sentiments rather than reason. Hume says, “Custom, then, is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone, which renders our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared in the past” (Hume 29).




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Human Understanding Essay

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