Metaphysics as Addressed by Kant and Hume Essay

Metaphysics as Addressed by Kant and Hume Essay

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Metaphysics as Addressed by Kant and Hume


In the Prolegomena, Kant states that reading David Hume, "awakened him from his dogmatic slumber." It was Hume's An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding that made Kant aware of issues and prejudices in his life that he had previously been unaware of. This further prompted Kant to respond to Hume with his own analysis on the theory of metaphysics. Kant did not feel that Hume dealt with these matters adequately and resolved to pick up where Hume had left off, specifically addressing the question of whether metaphysics as a science is possible.

Hume basically asserted in his writings that metaphysics, as a science, is not possible. He specifically drew on the theory of "causality", which is the attempt by people to rationalize situations. These rationalizations deal with the experience of cause and effect. People tend to attribute patterns to things according to their cause and effect. For example, gravity causes the anything that goes up to come down- we have become so used to this principle that we have made a very definitive statement on the subject. Hume however, attacks this principle by claiming that we have not experienced every instance of this matter. It is not that it must come down, but that it happens to come down. He believed that any "all" or "must" statement is not reinforced through reason but through repetition. Because Hume feels this way, he then concludes that metaphysics is not possible.

Hume's writing posed an interesting starting off point for Kant's theories. As said before, Kant attributes Hume's writing with waking him from his "dogmatic slumber." He recognizes both Hume's intelligence and the validity of his statements. However, he does n...


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...th much like Hume stood by skepticism. He relies blindly on faith to explain a large part of what he is trying to discredit Hume for. It is almost as if he is not making a definitive statement on the existence of metaphysics. Rather, he is caught in the middle, claiming that it may be true in one instance, but not in another.

Kant directly deals with the problems presented in Hume's analysis of metaphysics. Where Hume stops his line of thinking and becomes skeptical as to the existence of metaphysics as a science, Kant picks up. He proceeds to analyze both the validity of metaphysics as a science and a force in our lives. Turning to the methods of other credible men in the scientific field- such as Copernicus- Kant develops a whole new approach to looking at the world. However, like Hume, Kant encounters an obstacle and does not find a solution for it.

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