David Hume and Future Occurrences

David Hume and Future Occurrences

Length: 1020 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

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. Since we have only experience of the past, we can only offer propositions of the future. Hume classifies human into two categories; “Relations of Ideas,” and “Matters of Fact.” (240) “Relations of ideas” are either intuitively or demonstratively certain, such as in Mathematics (240). It can be affirmed that 2 + 2 equals 4, according to Hume’s “relations of ideas.” “Matters of fact” on the other hand are not ascertained in the same manner as “Relations of Ideas.” The ideas that are directly caused by impressions are called "matters of fact". With “matters of fact,” there is no certainty in establishing evidence of truth since every contradiction is possible. Hume uses the example of the sun rising in the future to demonstrate how as humans, we are unjustified in making predictions of the future based on past occurrences. As humans, we tend to use the principle of induction to predict what will occur in the future. Out of habit, we assume that sun will rise every day, like it has done in the past, but we have no basis of actual truth to make this justification. By claiming that the sun will rise tomorrow according to Hume is not false, nor is it true. Hume illustrates that “the contrary of every matter of fact is still possible, because it can never imply a contradiction and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness as if ever so conformable to reality” (240). Just because the sun has risen in the past does not serve as evidence for the future. Thus, according to Hume, we are only accurate in saying that there is a fifty- percent chance that the sun will rise tomorrow. Hume felt that all reasoning concerning matter of fact seemed to be founded on the relation between cause and effect.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"David Hume and Future Occurrences." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Apr 2019

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay on David Hume and Future Occurrences

- David Hume, in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, discusses how we cannot predict the future. Even though our experiences and our reasoning tell us that objects act in a predictable way, we still cannot prove how objects will act in the future based upon previous interactions. After biting into a piece of pizza we expect an enjoyable taste. This enjoyable taste is expected because our past experiences have proven this to us. Even though we think we can predict that the pizza will act the same as our previous experiences, it may just blow up upon biting....   [tags: Empiricists, Empiricism]

Research Papers
749 words (2.1 pages)

Essay on David Hume and Future Occurrences

- Hume asked, "what reason do we have in thinking the future will resemble the past?" It is reasonable to think that it will because there is no contradiction in supposing the future won't resemble the past. But it is also true that is possible for the world to change dramatically and our previous experience would be completely useless in judging future experience. We want to say that past experiences have been a good predictor. We are compelled to do so and it is almost as if we can't help ourselves....   [tags: Empiricists, Empiricism]

Research Papers
1105 words (3.2 pages)

David Hume 's Theory Of Induction Essay example

- Problem of Induction In this paper, I will discuss Hume’s “problem of induction,” his solution to the problem, and whether or not his solution to the problem is correct. In David Hume 's 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding ', Hume states that no actual proof exists to suggest that future occurrences will happen the way previous occurrences did. His solution to this “problem of induction” is that our beliefs about cause and effect are based out of pure habit of thought that we have become accustomed to....   [tags: Inductive reasoning, Reasoning]

Research Papers
917 words (2.6 pages)

David Hume 's Copy Principle Essay examples

- I believe that ideas are not innately formed within the mind. From the time we are born, we are surrounded by impressions of the world. Inspired by our own desire for self-discovery, we come up with concepts that derive from the experiences of everyday life. Not only can we create these ideas from external occurrences, but they can be created internally as well. All the same, the emotions that we feel in different contexts such as love, anger, sadness, even the general way we feel towards someone, are based on interactions....   [tags: John Locke, Empiricism, Mind, Idea]

Research Papers
1059 words (3 pages)

Essay on Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume

- David Hume wrote Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding in 1748, right in the middle of the Enlightenment and on the eve of the Industrial and Scientific Revolution. So it only makes sense that some of the ideas and comparisons used are slightly outdated, but science, if anything, helps his argument regarding causality. Hume is ultimately concerned with the origins of causality, how we are able to gain knowledge from causality, and if we can even call the knowledge derived from causality real knowledge....   [tags: David Hume, Enlightenment]

Research Papers
1049 words (3 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]

Research Papers
817 words (2.3 pages)

How We Gain Knowledge and What We Do with Knowledge: David Hume Essay

- David Hume was an imperialist philosopher who revolutionized scientific argument and methodology with his skepticism. His arguments about the way people though up to his day, and still today, are fundamental in explaining how we gain knowledge and what we do with this knowledge. Hume helped pave a road leading toward a higher state of consciousness for humanity with his theory concerning the perceptions of the mind. He divided the minds perception into two distinct group's impression and ideas. With these two classifications Hume rationalized the depths of human understanding....   [tags: David Hume, Knowledge, philosophy]

Research Papers
1766 words (5 pages)

David Hume - Naturalistic Metaethics, Politics, and Psychology Essay

- David Hume - Naturalistic Metaethics, Politics, and Psychology ABSTRACT: According to the views expressed in this paper, influences unrelated to the conclusions of Immanuel Kant and G. E. Moore respecting what they saw as the appropriate foundation for moral systems seems to have been at work in the reactions of both to the earlier criticisms of David Hume. Building on a "recent meeting" with Hume in a pub on Princes Street in Edinburgh, I develop the suggestion that both Kant and Moore were loyal to traditional notions of an intuited, non-prudential basis for ethical injunctions....   [tags: Philosophy David Hume]

Free Essays
3933 words (11.2 pages)

On Emotion and Value in David Hume and Max Scheler Essay

- On Emotion and Value in David Hume and Max Scheler ABSTRACT: While some philosophers tend to exclude any significance of emotion for the moral life, others place them in the center of both the moral life and the theory of value judgment. This paper presents a confrontation of two classic positions of the second type, namely the position of Hume and Scheler. The ultimate goal of this confrontation is metatheoretical — particularly as it concerns the analysis of the relations between the idea of emotion and the idea of value in this kind of theory of value judgment....   [tags: David Hume Max Scheler Philosophy Essays]

Research Papers
2866 words (8.2 pages)

David Hume´s Philosophy Essay

- Hume’s Epistemology David Hume was a Scottish philosopher known for his ideas of skepticism and empiricism. Hume strived to better develop John Locke’s idea of empiricism by using a scientific study of our own human nature. We cannot lean on common sense to exemplify human conduct without offering any clarification to the subject. In other words, Hume says that since human beings do, as a matter of fact, live and function in this world, observation of how humans do so is imminent. The primary goal of philosophy is simply to explain and justify the reasoning of why we believe what we do....   [tags: Ideas,Impressions]

Research Papers
889 words (2.5 pages)

Related Searches

(241) Hume said that even though the cause preceded the effect, there is no proof that the cause is responsible for the effect's occurrence , it could be purely coincidental. He claims that the human notion of cause and effect is ungrounded in empirical evidence, but rather given only reasonable probability through continuous reinforcement. Hume's rejection of causation implies a rejection of scientific laws, which are based on the general premise that one event necessarily causes another and predictably always will. According to Hume's philosophy, therefore, knowledge of matters of fact is impossible, although as a practical matter he freely acknowledged that people had to think in terms of cause and effect, and had to assume the validity of their perceptions, For example, if I touch the hot stove, I will get burnt. This statement does not necessitate that when I touch the hot stove, (cause) I will always get burnt (effect). Instead, according to Hume, I have no good reason to think that it will not happen again. Hume, however, went further, endeavoring to prove that reason and rational judgments are merely habitual associations of distinct impressions or experiences. Hume claims that all our ideas, which form the basis of our knowledge, are derived from impressions that we take in from the outside world and into the inside world of our mind. Hume grouped perceptions and experiences into one of two categories: impressions and ideas. (238) According to Hume, ideas are memories of sensations but impressions are the cause of the sensation. An impression is part of a temporary feeling, but an idea is the permanent impact of this feeling. Hume believed that ideas were just dull imitations of impressions. Hume did not believe that a priori, knowledge based on reasoning can deduce true knowledge. Knowledge based on reasoning alone, according to Hume does not provide understanding of the real world. He believed that all ideas have to have impressions, that the human mind invented nothing. So, according to Hume, a priori reasoning does not offer any understanding of the real world, because they cannot be traced to the impressions that first created them. The human mind takes simple ideas, and turns them into complex ideas. (243) An example of this concept is the idea of an unicorn. Unicorns are conceived as being horses with horns. Hume’s claimed that an unicorn is formed of two simple ideas, the figure of a horse and a horn. Hume concludes that our beliefs can never be rationally justified, but must be acknowledged to rest only upon our acquired habits. In similar fashion, Hume argued that we cannot justify our natural beliefs in the reality of the self or the existence of an external world. From all of this, he concluded that a severe skepticism is the only defensible view of the world, though he does not expect us to live our daily lives by this notion. Wesley C. Salmon points out that according to the principle of uniformity of nature that even though we do not know for sure what will happen in the future, we must assume that nature will continue as it has done in the past. This is the human condition, in that we have no way of asserting what will happen in the future. But in living our daily lives, we are better to go by what has occurred in the past in nature, despite Hume’s philosophy that there is only a 50/50 chance. In order to function, we need to accept that there is a uniformity of nature in order to carry on with our lives.


1. Reason & Responsibility. Ed. Joel Feinberg & Russ Shafer- Landau. Belmont, CA:Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999.
Return to 123HelpMe.com