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The mind is a great philosopher

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A Very Brief Summary of David Hume
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Hume proceeds to show that a number of complexideas in philosophy, such as the idea of an immaterial self as the coreof personal identity, fail to meet his empiricist criterion (see ,Book I, Part IV, sec.

A Very Brief Summary of David Hume ..

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VI). But the most famous subject of his criticismis the relation of cause and effect. Western philosophers and scientiststraditionally believed that to know something fully one must know the causeupon which it necessarily depends. Hume argues that such knowledgeis impossible. He notes that the causal relationship provides thebasis for all reasonings concerning matters of fact; however, unlike therelations of ideas explored by mathematics, no judgments that concern mattersof fact are necessarily true. This is because we can always imagine,without contradiction, the contrary of every matter of fact (e.g., ‘thesun will not rise tomorrow’ neither is nor implies a contradiction).

 

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Limitations of space prevent even a cursory sketch of Hume’s treatmentof other philosophical questions, such as whether God exists and whetherhumans have free will and an immortal soul. But the devastating impactof Hume’s empiricism on traditional metaphysics is succinctly summarizedby the closing lines of his first .

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1). Ideas are epistemologically inferior toimpressions, and the secondary status that Hume gives them stands in markedcontrast to a long tradition in Western philosophy which asserts that universalideas—not singular sense impressions—are the proper objects of the humanintellect. Following Locke, Hume also distinguishes betweenthe simple and complex. Simple impressions and ideas, such as theseeing or imagining of a particular shade of red, admit of no distinctionnor separation. Complex impressions and ideas, such as the seeingor imagining of an apple, can be analyzed into their component parts. Whereas all simple ideas are derived from and exactly represent simpleimpressions, many complex ideas are not, and so their veracity must becalled into question. Hume remarks, “When we entertain, therefore,any suspicion that a philosophical term is employed without any meaningor idea (as it but too frequent) we need but enquire, from what impressionis that supposed idea derived? And if it be impossible to assignany, this will serve to confirm our suspicion” (first , sec.


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David Hume (1711-1776) is unquestionably oneof the most influential philosophers of the Modern period. Born inEdinburgh, Scotland, his philosophical works include (1739), (2 vols., 1741-1742), (1748), and (1751). He also publisheda history of Great Britain and, posthumously, .

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IV-V).
Hume maintains that moral distinctions arederived from feelings of pleasure and pain of a special sort, and not—asheld by many Western philosophers since Socrates—from reason. Workingfrom the empiricist principle that the mind is essentially passive, Humeargues that reason by itself can never prevent or produce any action oraffection. But since morals concerns actions and affections, it cannotbe based on reason. Furthermore, reason can influence our conductin only two ways. First, reason can inform us of the existence ofsomething which is the proper object of a passion, and thereby excite it. Second, reason can deliberate about means to an end that we already desire. But should reason be in error in either of these areas (e.g., by mistakingan unpleasant object for one which is pleasant, or by mistakenly selectingthe wrong means to a desired end), it is not a moral but an intellectualfailing. As a final point, Hume argues for a distinction betweenfacts and values. According to Hume, one cannot infer conclusionsabout what ought or ought not to be the case based on premises of whatis or is not (see , Book III, Part I, sec.

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