Analysis of Hume’s Critique of Causation Essay

Analysis of Hume’s Critique of Causation Essay

Length: 1829 words (5.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Analysis of Hume’s Critique of Causation


Sometimes it is hard to be sure what conclusion to draw from a Humean analysis, and he is easy to misrepresent. This is partly because one argument he is engaged in may raise a number of related issues that he has dealt with elsewhere, and some of his points seem contradictory. My wish is to consider some of the possible readings of David Hume’s critique of causation, as it appears in Section VII of the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, “On Necessary Connexion”, and their relation to the propositions of Section II, “Of the Origin of Ideas”, and Section X, “On Miracles”. I will offer criticisms and alternatives to Hume’s account(s) and conclude by picking which interpretation of Section VII best works for Hume, given certain arguments elsewhere in the Enquiry.

The following is a summary of the aspects of the problem of induction as presented in the Enquiry which concern my discussion.

Our assurance that certain sets of conditions are sufficient to produce certain effects is based on past experience that like has been conjoined with like. The belief in necessary connection entails (Hume will conclude that it amounts to) a belief that events similar to those experienced in the past will be accompanied by similar conjuncts. Such a belief may only be arrived at inductively, and induction does not discover necessity.1[1]

This argument is against the supposed necessity of connection. “Necessity” here may refer to logical necessity, or it may not distinguish between this and physical necessity. To be physically necessary is to be sufficiently caused, but contingent upon the conditions of the event and the properties of all objects involved. Physical...


... middle of paper ...


... but one about reason, that it is not this, but habit, which forms the basis of our beliefs. While it may be the case that denying an empirical fact may not result in a contradiction, Hume seems to be suggesting that it would still be irrational to do so. That abstracting from events to laws is a rational, though inductive, act seems hard to deny. Thus, at best, Hume can only show that it is experience which first provides the matter for reason.


Sources

Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1977)


1[1] David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1977), p.46
2[2] p.51
3[3] p.49
4[4] I think both Descartes and Kant had perfectly good a priori demonstrations of the existence of the self, which is all one needs to reach the concept of existence.

5[5] p.42

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on What Are Aesthetics?

- When questioning something as controversial as the possibility of a standard of aesthetic judgment, one must take into account the many different perspectives that already exist on the matter. For centuries now, some of the greatest philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant have attempted to answer this timeless question. However, understandings and interpretations of art are constantly evolving. This has made a clear concise answer difficult to find. Throughout this essay, I will discuss previous opinions and beliefs on the matter, primarily focusing on the ides of philosopher David Hume, then touching on Noel Carroll’s critique of Hume’s philosophy, and then go into further detail...   [tags: David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy]

Powerful Essays
1418 words (4.1 pages)

Hume's and Anscombe's View on Causation Essays

- In this paper I discuss both Hume’s and Anscombe’s view on causation. I begin with Hume and his regularity theory; then I move onto Anscombe where I provide a rebuttal of Hume’s regularity theory, and later I explain how Hume would respond to Anscombe’s objection to Hume’s regularity theory. Hume’s notion of causation is his regularity theory. Hume explains his regularity theory in two ways: (1) “we may define a cause to be an object, followed by another, and where all the objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second” (2) “if the first object had not been, the second never had existed.” Hume defines causation in terms of natural necessity and explains natural...   [tags: philosophical analysis]

Powerful Essays
1237 words (3.5 pages)

Causation: Understanding the Process of Cause and Effect Essay

- Causation is a process that happens due to constant human action throughout our day-to-day lives. In saying this, very simply describing it as such can derive a definition; causation is the action of causing something (Oxford Dictionaries 2014). David Hume, a well known philosopher on the topic of causation observes that while we may understand that two events seem to occur in conjunction, there is no way for us to know the nature of the connection (T. Honderich 2001). Hume provides an exceptionally strong argument that this paper will support and attempt by using examples in order to reinforce and justify why Hume’s theory is still relevant....   [tags: Hume, phylosophical analysis]

Powerful Essays
1111 words (3.2 pages)

Critique of Hume's Analysis of Causality Essay example

- Critique of Hume's Analysis of Causality Hume's analyses of human apprehension and of causality were the most penetrating up to his time and continue to have great influence. Contemporary Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri (1893-1983) has examined both and identified three underlying errors: (1) the failure to recognize that there are three stages of human intellection, and especially that the first, primordial apprehension, has quite unique characteristics; (2) the attempt to place an excessive burden on the content of impressions while ignoring what Zubiri terms their 'formality of reality'; and (3) the failure to recognize that functionality, not causality, is the basis for most of our kn...   [tags: Philosophy Papers]

Powerful Essays
3300 words (9.4 pages)

David Hume ( 1711-1776 ) Essay

- DAVID HUME (1711-1776) is considered as one of the more notable philosophers that was a representative of the empiricism. Hume stated that it was critical that the concept of causality wasn’t denied and that this principle had an existing objective. He argued that cause and effect are factors that not are united by ties needed; if not that his union is arbitrary. By custom or by habits, nothing ensures that the logical or experience happens without a cause. For example the Sunrise necessarily follows an effect: supply of heat to the Earth....   [tags: Metaphysics, Ontology, Causality, David Hume]

Powerful Essays
817 words (2.3 pages)

Metaphysics as Addressed by Kant and Hume Essay

- 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....   [tags: Papers Kant Hume Philosophy Essays]

Powerful Essays
1383 words (4 pages)

Essay on David Hume and Karl Marx’s Critiques of Religion

- Where does religion come from. Many have tried to answer this question, only leaving us with more questions than answers. This essay will focus on two philosophers David Hume and Karl Marx both has strong critiques on the existence of God. Both going against the design argument, the design argument is the argument for the existence of God or single creator; however, with Hume’s empiricist and Marx's atheist they both attack the design argument in different ways, ultimately coming to the same conclusion and that is there is no God....   [tags: religion]

Powerful Essays
1272 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Hume Vs Kant

-      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....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Hume Kant Essays]

Powerful Essays
1749 words (5 pages)

Essay on David Hume and Future Occurrences

- In An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, David Hume demonstrates how there is no way to rationally make any claims about future occurrences. According to Hume knowledge of matters of fact come from previous experience. From building on this rationale, Hume goes on to prove how, as humans we can only make inferences on what will happen in the future, based on our experiences of the past. But he points out that we are incorrect to believe that we are justified in using our experience of the past as a means of evidence of what will happen in the future....   [tags: Philosophy Hume Philosophical Essays]

Free Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

Hume's Wide Construal of the Virtues Essay

- Hume's Wide Construal of the Virtues ABSTRACT: The term "virtue" has traditionally been used to designate morally good character traits such as benevolence, charity, honesty, wisdom, and honor. Although ethicists do not commonly offer a definitive list of virtues, the number of virtues discussed is often short and their moral significance is clear. Hume's analysis of the virtues departs from this tradition both in terms of the quantity of virtues discussed and their obvious moral significance....   [tags: Hume Virtues Virtue Philosophy Papers]

Powerful Essays
3849 words (11 pages)