6/David Hume of morals, reasoning, and criticism; and should for ever talk of truth and falsehood, vice and virtue, beauty and deformity, without being able to. by David Hume (). Reprinted from the Original Edition in three volumes and edited, with an analytical index, by L.A. Selby-. Bigge, M.A. (Oxford: Clarendon. AND. DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION. BY DAVID HUME. EDITED, WITH PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS AND NOTES, B Y. T. H. GREEN .

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BY DAVID HUME. EDITED, WITH PRELIMINARY DISSERTATIONS AND NOTES , IIV. T. H. GREEN and. T. H. GROSE. FELLOW AND TUTOIl OF BALLIOL. HUME, DAVID (), considered by many the finest anglophone philosopher, one of the first fully modern secular minds, and, along with Adam Smith, the. Treatise, Book 1. David Hume i: Ideas find the same resemblance and representation when I survey my other perceptions: ideas and impressions seem always.

Nadler ed. For a long time this assessment of the reception of the Treatise must have seemed right. It had first been published in three volumes in and , and many of its not very numerous early readers and reviewers were uncomprehending and hostile. After this disappointment, Hume started publishing shorter and more readable works, essays on political and critical matters which, after being published in , went through many recensions. He also recast in essay form what he felt could be salvaged from the Treatise in the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and then the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals —and by the mids he was open in acknowledging that he found his unlucky first literary production positively irritating for the evident youthful eagerness inspiring it. The six volumes of his History of England gave him both a good income, and the literary fame he admits he had much wished for as a young man. His last major philosophical work, the Dialogues Concerning 1 Natural Religion, was to be published posthumously in By the time he was writing My Own Life Hume was known as the author of original and witty essays, as an important and elegant history writer, as a dangerous sceptic and possibly an atheist, and as a very nice man. His portraits show that he was a big man, and there are stories about the deceitfully rustic and stupid look of his fat face. Contemporary responses to Hume and his philosophical work were, as I said, mostly unsympathetic; but their most striking overall feature is that they were very diverse, and very much at odds with each other. And so on. The diversity in the more recent responses to his philosophy is still impressive. Hume was one of the few recognised as ancestors by positivists, for what they regarded as his consistent empiricism and his antimetaphysical stance Zabeeh, ; he was read as a founding father by the phenomenologists Reinach, ; Salmon, ; and similarities have been found between the post- 2 modern approach and his antifoundationalism and irony Parusnikova,

Rather, he seem to claim that they are reflections in thought of features of our complex impressions. By contrast, after explaining that there is no impression, either of the senses or of reflexion, at the origin of our putative ideas of empty space and changeless time, he shows that it is the way we talk of matter and motion which misleads us into thinking that we do have such ideas. In this, 6 as in so many cases, we mistake words for ideas. Together with the idea of substance, the ideas of empty space and changeless time are among the very few putative ideas which Hume suggests philosophers should be prepared to regard as mere fictions or pseudo- ideas.

The idea of self is similar to the ideas of space and time: there neither sense impressions nor impressions of reflexion which are good candidates for the impression corresponding to the idea of self. For we cannot pin down any impression which is distinct and self-contained, and yet is common to every single one of our perceptions and identifies each and all of them as ours.

Our mind is like a theatrical performance of our perceptions p. The identity of our self is therefore similar to the identity of a river p. And yet it is obvious that we do have a particularly vivid idea of our own self—so much so that later in the Treatise, in the discussion of passions in Book 2, Hume suggests this idea is rather like an impression p. We know that at least in the case of the idea of self Hume openly acknowledged that there was indeed an unsolved puzzle in his theory: he says so in the appendix published at the end of Book 3 of the Treatise pp.

These ideas are indeed copies of corresponding impressions but, contrary to our expectations, these turn out to be not sense impressions, but impressions of reflexion. Consider the ideas of virtue and vice. These ideas, Hume maintains, are not copied from specific distinct qualities in a virtuous or vicious person or action, as one would imagine.

Parricide is, Hume says, the worst of crimes; and yet we do not disapprove of a sapling which, by its steady growth, ends up destroying the parent tree, even though it reproduces parricide in every detail. Incest is a criminal action among humans, but we regard it as completely innocent among animals.

The Philosophy Of David Hume Ed. 1st

The difference between these cases cannot have to do with humans being rational and hence in a position to know better. For reason can only uncover what is already there, without giving rise to anything new p. The ideas of virtue and vice are copies of our own feelings of approval or disapproval—in other words, it is our approval or disapproval that give rise to moral distinctions, and not vice versa.

So when we imagine that the origin of the ideas of virtue and vice is something out there, in a quality of the virtuous or vicious person or action, we mistakenly project an internal impression onto the objects. Some interpreters have noticed that he idea of the necessary connexion between cause and effect is similar, in this respect, to the idea of virtue Stroud, , pp. Kail, What is it that we call a causal sequence? When I see a cause followed by its effect, all I actually see is, Hume points out, an A followed by a B.

There is nothing in what I see to give rise to the idea of an interaction between the two. Nor is there any impression of reflexion of this sort—there is no impression of reflexion even in a causal sequence involving my voluntary bodily motions. Yet if I keep observing more and more cases of the same causal sequence, after a certain number of repetitions I find that I have acquired the idea of a necessary 8 connexion between this cause and this effect.

This new idea comes from the habitual association of perceptions, which has given rise to an expectation, when I have the sense impression of the cause, to conceive the idea of the effect and to transfer to this idea part of the strength and liveliness of the present sense impression of the cause.

In this way I find that I am compelled to conceive the effect in a particularly strong and lively manner—in other words, I believe that it is going to occur. The feeling of expectation is an impression of reflexion which only arises as a consequence of repetition and habit and which, in turn, gives rise to the idea of necessary connexion.

In short, the idea of necessary connexion derives from an habitual inference, rather than giving rise to it Treatise, p. It is important to remember that in his discussion he is not considering causation, but simply the ideas of cause and effect.

He is not discussing the metaphysics of causation, but rather is offering a science-of-human-nature—that is, roughly speaking, partly epistemological, and partly psychological—account of the process which makes us conceive and expertly use causal notions and language. But it is also a matter of historical fact that his treatment of the ideas of cause and effect has given rise to an entirely new way of regarding the metaphysical problem of causation.

This is hardly surprising. Now, if according to Hume there is no perceivable necessary connexion between cause and effect, it may well be that all there is to causation is a mere sequence of things taking place one after the other.

And if so, how are we to define 9 causation so as to account for the ways in which we successfully employ rather complex and sophisticated causal notions?

These and other related questions still constitute hot topics for philosophical discussion. Hume himself tried to answer by offering not one, but two definitions; with his discussion of our belief that, when we see the cause, the effect will follow; and by bringing to our attention a set of rules which guide causal judgments.

Much has been written to show that these two definition are not very satisfactory, either individually or as a pair. For example, neither of them accounts for what actually binds an individual cause-and-effect pair, hence neither of them can account for a cause operating once only.

Also, it is easy to imagine pairs of events which would count as causal according to the first, but not according to the second definition, and vice versa. On the other hand it is also true that, as has been recently pointed out, they provide a consistent, indeed a very good science-of-human-nature account of the idea of cause and effect, if we take the first definition in the subjective sense—the constant conjunction is from the point of view of an observer— and the second in the absolute sense—the beliefs described are those of an ideal observer Garrett, , pp.

In his view, they can be fully accounted for by a combination of feeling and practical rules. To start with feeling: as is clear from the second definition, our expectation that a cause will be followed by the effect usually accompanying it is a crucial component of our idea of cause and effect. The way he talks about belief is deliberately reminiscent of his discussion of the distinction between impressions and ideas: a believed idea is stronger and more lively 10 than a merely entertained one, just as an impression is stronger and more lively than the corresponding idea.

So when we are in the presence of the sense impression of the cause, this impression lends part of its strength and liveliness to the idea of what is habitually associated with it, that is, to the idea of the effect Treatise, p. In this sense our guide in our causal judgments, that is, in all our judgments concerning matters of fact, is a feeling: it is a propensity of our mind—its propensity to associate ideas, to acquire habits, to give ideas an emotional colour, so to speak—that produces our recognition of some sequences as causal, and of some others as casual.

So our causal judgments turn out, in the end, to be based on a faculty which is far less steady and reliable than reason or the understanding in its operations: the imagination.

This is where the rules help us out—our reasonings about causes and effects do not result simply from feeling and the imagination. For the imagination itself not only controls the associations of ideas guiding us to project from the past to the future, from the observed to the unobserved, and so on; it is also the faculty responsible for the most unwarranted flights of our fancy and for our tendency to be gullible when faced with exciting and entertaining fictions.

But feelings and the imagination constitute only one side of causal judgments. These include the spatial and temporal contiguity of cause and effect, the priority of the cause, and their constant conjunction; that the same cause always produces the same effect, and vice versa; that different causes produce similar effects in virtue of their similar features, and vice versa; and so on pp.

For, he points out, by enabling the mind to pass from the impression of the cause to the idea of the effect, it allows us to associate something present to us to something absent.

In this way it provides the foundation for our inferences from past to future, and more generally from what we are directly acquainted with to other matters—it is the basis of our inductive inferences Treatise, pp. This is how he put it. Our reason can only ever produce either demonstrative arguments about relations of ideas, as in mathematics and in all deductive forms of reasoning, or probable arguments about matters of fact.

Now, it is clear that there cannot be a demonstrative argument to the effect that the course of nature must be uniform: a change being conceivable, and hence possible, uniformity cannot be established a priori. On the other hand, all probable arguments are based on the presupposition that the course of nature is indeed uniform, therefore there can be no non-circular argument for uniformity. But as all arguments available to us are either demonstrative or probable, no argument can prove the uniformity of nature Treatise, pp.

Or in other words, inductive arguments cannot by definition be justified deductively, while any attempt at an inductive justification begs the question. So, since deduction and induction are the only modes of inference available to us, a justification of induction is impossible. What grounds then do we have to believe that the future will resemble the past, for example, that because the sun has risen daily in the past it will rise again tomorrow?

So the belief results from the way the human mind works Treatise, pp. In the Treatise this discussion includes probabilities amounting to proofs there is really no doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that all men must die, p. Issues concerning probability and probable inference were very popular among contemporary readers. Hume had intended to devote the culminating section of this treatise-within-the- Treatise on probable arguments to the assessment of the probability of reported miracles.

Here Hume was intervening in an important and widespread contemporary debate. He was aware that his approach to the matter was likely to give offence—this is why he cut out all discussion of miracles from the Treatise. Yet again, it is important to remember that Hume is not asking a metaphysical question.

Our belief in the existence of external world is such an unbreacheable fact of our nature, that questioning it would not even make proper 14 sense Treatise, p. But it makes very good sense to investigate human nature: where does this unshakeable belief come from?

When we are getting on with the ordinary business of life, or when we are thinking, however deeply, about something else, we take it for granted that our perceptions and external objects are one and the same. Objects must be stable. But then, how can perceptions and objects be one and the same?

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According to Hume, this contradiction is created by the conflict of two faculties of the mind: reason, which discovers the brokenness of perceptions, and the imagination, which, on the basis of the constancy and coherence of our fleeting impressions—the world looks very much the same after an eyeblink, after all, and it only changes, when it does, according to regular and familiar patterns—constructs the notion of continuous objects.

Perceptions and objects are divorced from each other: so that at the same time reason is granted, in the sphere of perceptions, the interruptions it has discovered, and the imagination, in the sphere of the so-called external objects, the continuity that it has itself constructed.

In other words, this duplication of the world only arises out of the irresoluble contrast between the two equally strong suggestions of reason and the imagination, which combine rather than neutralising each other.

The theory of the double existence is, in this sense, parasitic on our pre-philosophical conviction that our perceptions are the only objects and, at the same time, that objects still exist when we are not perceiving them: but then, far from dissolving the contradiction, it is no more than an expression of it pp. Insofar as it is to be grasped by limited and fallible human minds, even the certainty of deductive reason is open to Pyrrhonian doubts section 1 ; as we have seen, the same applies to our senses, which, in spite of the compelling immediacy with which they present their data, cannot in fact give us access to the world section 2.

Ancient and modern philosophers alike are defeated in their attempts to make sense of the qualities of bodies sections 3 and 4 ; and neither theologians nor philosophers are able to account for the unity of body and mind or for the nature of our self sections 5 and 6. After such debacles, what are we to think of our own philosophising, of our own reason, indeed of ourselves?

The temporary triumph of radical scepticism Hume voices at the start of the final section of Book 1 is due not to the impact of an argument or set of arguments, but to the melancholy, despair and solitude brought about by so much intense and apparently fruitless philosophical reflection.

Hume represents this state of mind in such vivid terms as to suggest close comparison with the autobiographical testimony he left, in the form of a letter written in to a physician, of a crisis he suffered in his twenties see for example Sitter, , pp. I think that the opposite is the case. The investigations that we have considered are introspective and solitary; and it has been observed that Book 1 of the Treatise is dominated by the impression of the lonely philosopher thinking hard in the silence of his chamber Sitter, , pp.

As we have just seen, Book 1 concludes with a surprisingly personal representation of the dangers of philosophical solitude and the recommendation that we harmonise philosophical solitude and conversable sociability. When he wrote that in philosophy, as in poetry and music, we must rely on sentiment, Hume did not have in mind only the study of the operations of the understanding: of course, he was also thinking of moral philosophy.

In presenting the uses of the copy principle I have already mentioned that, just like the idea of necessary connexion between cause and effect, the ideas of virtue and vice are also copies of impressions of reflexion, namely, in this case, of our feeling of approval or disapproval for actions which are agreeable or useful or the opposite to the agent or to others.

Let us try to unpack them. He describes human nature without actively engaging with issues of right or wrong see Mackie, , pp. Such moral rationalists as Samuel Clarke had maintained that moral duties and obligations have nothing to do with the consequences of actions, and derive from nature prior to, and independently of, the authority of either god or man.

In their view right and wrong are completely objective, eternal and necessary, and directly available for rational knowledge. A passion can only be in conflict with and contrasted by another passion, and so only passions can motivate us to act or to refrain from acting. Virtue is by definition amiable, and vice odious: moral assessments proceed from sentiment.

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Reason has nothing to offer to explain the origin of moral distinctions, for there is nothing in virtuous or vicious actions corresponding to our idea of virtue or vice.

In other words, morality is underpinned by our capacity for sympathy. We find other people very similar to ourselves, Hume says, and part of the extraordinary liveliness with which we always perceive our own self is transferred to the conception of the feelings and passions of others. What we observe in others is, of course, no more than the behavioural side of passions. Finally, sympathy is also naturally responsible for our approval of virtues which promote the general good of mankind pp.

As in the case of belief, however, there is something erratic and arbitrary in the operation of sympathy. In particular, the transference of liveliness is made easier, the closer the relation between our own self and another person.

This is why we sympathise more easily with those whose manners or personality more closely resemble ours, or with those who are more closely associated with us through blood or through acquaintance pp.

So, as in the case of causal judgments, sentiment is not all there is to moral judgments; here too experience intervenes with a balancing act. This naturalism does not entail that all dictates of our moral sense are to be regarded as entirely natural. Hume shows the artificiality of justice by arguing first that the merit of a virtuous action is in the virtuous motive, not in the outcome p. The effects of time on issues of justice and property also serves to show the artificiality of their foundation: a title which is clear and certain now will be obscure and doubtful fifty years hence, even though no other circumstances have changed; and long possession of something will give the possessor a title to it.

But, in spite of their artificiality, justice and its rules are essential for human society, and hence for the well-being of humans. For such rules were surely necessary in order to compensate as promptly as possible for our natural but fatally anti- social selfishness and tendency to favour our kin in the face of the scarcity of material goods and the instability of their possession pp.

The situation is, of course, simpler in the case of what Hume regards as the natural virtues. As we have seen earlier, the qualities that we naturally regard as virtues are those which are useful or agreeable to the person himself or to others.

Hume’s Moral Philosophy

Inevitably their conversation turned to death, the immortality of the soul and religion. He wrote about religious matters more than about any other topic, and devoted some of his finest philosophical writing to religious critique.

For natural religion and rational theology the situation is even more complex. On the basis of unanimous historical testimony we must conclude that the primary religion of mankind cannot have been monotheistic Four Dissertations, p.

Polytheistic religions do often promote one of their gods above the others p. Nor is it clear that moving from polytheism to monotheism is a progress. Hume openly suggests that, on the contrary, a polytheistic popular religion has all sorts of advantages over monotheism: it is inherently more tolerant pp. The dissertation ends with a demolition of any argument to support the naturalness of religious belief on the basis of the universal consent of mankind. The belief in a perfect being creator of the world must be a natural one.

And yet the religions with which we are acquainted are full of contradictions: between the sublimity and the capriciousness at once attributed to god, between the verbal protestations and the actual conduct of men, between their zeal and their hypocrisy, between the highest hopes in talk and the most dismal terrors in fact pp. And while it seems true that, as the proverb goes, ignorance is the mother of devotion, we must also acknowledge that only the most brutish of peoples are entirely devoid of religion p.

By contrast the in Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, where he tackles the attempted arguments a priori and a posteriori to demonstrate the existence of God, Hume concludes that religious belief does not have any foundation in reason either.

The Dialogues are devoted, for the most part, to an argument from experience, the so- called design argument, very popular and endlessly discussed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

On the basis of the appearance of order and finality in nature, this 23 argument establishes an analogy between nature and human artefacts; then, from our knowledge of the human mind as the cause of artefacts, it infers a similar, but proportionally more powerful and perfect mind as the cause of the world. The resulting interaction among the three characters is lively and complex; and the attack thus orchestrated against the design argument is regarded by many as fatal.

Hume proceeds by undermining the inference from the similarity of the effects to the similarity of the cause by exposing the arbitrariness and feebleness of its basis. From a house we infer an architect or a builder because we know from experience that architects and builders are the means through which houses come into being; but we cannot have any such empirical knowledge about the universe, which is a case without parallel in our experience p.

Also, if we suppose a spiritual cause of the material order, are we not bound to look for a cause of that cause, thus opening up an infinite regress pp. Anyway, all we can know of the god as designer of the universe is that, given the similarity between the universe and human artefacts, his power, wisdom and goodness must be proportionately greater than ours, so as enable him to produce the world as we know it—but this does not mean that we have any real reason to regard the designer as infinite and perfect p.

For all we can tease out of the similarities between the world and a human artefact, say a house or a clock, when god created the world he 24 might well have been juvenile, or incompetent, or practising, or he may have been senile, and be now dead, or indeed he may have been working in a team pp.

Moreover, the world may be regarded as more similar to an animal or to a plant than to a house or a clock, with the consequence that its cause would then turn out to be not an infinitely or immensely intelligent, powerful and benevolent architect or clockmaker, but a blind process of generation or vegetation p. Again, for all we know matter itself may well contain a principle of order p.

In any case, if we try to strengthen the analogy between god and man we border on anthropomorphism and are at risk of making god finite p. In the course of the discussion Cleanthes and Philo gang up to dispose of all priori arguments they specifically consider the necessity of a first cause, proposed by Demea, p. The only point against which Philo again and again fails to argue is the appeal of the design argument to the imagination, put forward by Cleanthes on several occasions p.

What exactly did he mean by this?

Philo is the dominant figure in the text. Also, it is true that Cleanthes and Demea on several occasions do express typical Humean views—such as the distinction between relations of ideas and matters of fact Cleanthes, in p. Yet, there is enough ambiguity in the Dialogues to make many readers wonder. If Hume was to express his point of view directly via Philo, why did he choose to write a dialogue at all, rather than an essay or a treatise? Perhaps Hume was trying to hide his point of view in order to make the book more acceptable to his readers?

We know for a fact that Hume did try to be as discreet as possible; but many readers feel that this cannot be the whole story. In this sense, in the Dialogues Hume finally found the literary genre most suited to his philosophy Livingston, , p. According to others, the Dialogues are entirely informed by irony; the religion which Philo and Hume are prepared to admit is an entirely naturalistic and humanistic one, without a god, and in the end coinciding with moderate scepticism itself.

In this reading, Philo is Hume, but in a way so are Cleanthes and Demea too: for a sceptic is inevitably unstable, or, if he is to be honest and true to himself, even inconsistent in his thinking Mossner, , p. Yet again, this suggestion does cast some light on the issue. If so, what effect was Hume trying to achieve? To answer this question, it has been suggested that in the case of the Dialogues there are special links between the dialogue form and the message.

Before Hume, dialogues about religion staged the movement from an initial multiplicity of views to the eventual consent and order. But in the Dialogues the harmonious agreement reached by Cleanthes and Philo at the end seems at least dubious; and, more importantly, Demea leaves in a huff well before the conclusion.

In other words, Hume subverts the genre of the religious dialogue, appropriating it to stage the failure of Cleanthes, Philo and Demea to compose their disagreements and reach a final consent Prince, , ch.

The uncertainty thus induced in the readers as to the design and intentions of the author of the Dialogues reproduces and reinforces the indecision communicated to them by the meandering discussions of the three characters about the design and intentions of the author of the universe.

Equally striking is, on the other hand, the rough treatment Philo frequently receives at the hands of Hume—the numerous times he is made to shut up, or to look embarrassed and silly, even when he would have perfectly good ways of standing his ground.

Philo may well be, seen through the eyes of the mature author of the Dialogues, the young and ardent author of the Treatise. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baier, A. A Progress of sentiments. Reflections on Hume's Treatise. Battersby, C.

Norton, N. Capaldi and W. Robinson eds. McGill Hume studies pp. San Diego: Austin Hill Press. Christensen, J. Practicing enlightenment. Hume and the formation of a literary career. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press.

Six essays on morals and criticism make up the second part of the book. In the final essay of this part, Flavio Baroncelli presents a dialogue between Rawls and Hume about justice. The third part of the book consists of six essays on historical, political, and religious matters. Mark G. Three articles of Humean novelties make up the fourth and final part of the book. Norton and Norton provide an overview of both volumes and excerpts from the editorial materials that make up the second volume —4.

The final two articles are book reviews of edited collections that appeared in Volume 33, Number 2, November Book Reviews The New Essays is, without a doubt, a valuable addition to Hume scholarship in at least three respects. First, the emphasis on the historical contextualization of the problems Hume addressed and the early reception of his thought does much to situate his place in intellectual history. In fact, the collection is so admirably comprehensive there is not really any room for genuine grounds of complaint.

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