Hume’s Empiricism

Hume’s Empiricism Name Tutor Course Date Hume’s Empiricism Introduction Philosophical dictionary describes Epistemology as “the branch of philosophy that investigates the possibility, origins, nature, and extent of human knowledge”. It is an important branch of philosophy that had been the focus of numerous philosophers to help understand human knowledge and its implication. One of the famous philosophers, Hume, emphasises the importance of Epistemology by saying that “to solve the problem of disagreement & speculation regarding abstruse question is to enquire seriously into the nature of human understanding, and show from an exact analysis of its power and capabilities that it is by no means fitted for such remote and abstruse object” (Morris). Hume’s Epistemology Hume, in describing Epistemology, rejected the concept of superstition and metaphysical speculation because as per him, superstitions do not offer any illumination while explaining human conduct, and metaphysical speculation only offers spurious clarity upon profound issues. Hume rejected rationalist theories about principles and innate ideas and believed in empiricism. He firmly believed that every object exists only in human sense experience and is perceivable only through it (Preston). In his view of epistemology, Hume explains that sense and experience give rise to the mental content: perception. He further divides perception in two forms: impression and idea. An impression is the original product of thought, a direct and vivid result of an experience, whereas an idea is only a copy of the impression. Impressions enter the mind with much more force and violence whereas the ideas are the faint images of these impressions, which occur in thought and reasoning (Preston). Hume’s Fork Further, Hume divides all objects of human reason into two categories, “relation of ideas” and “matter of facts”; he named this division of human reason as Hume’s Fork. He was of the view that this division is important to get a better understanding of the objects of human reason and their impact (Shockley). “Relation of ideas” is the first object of reason; its bases are the necessary truths denying which will involve contradicting the idea altogether. The relationship between the ideas is the reason for the truth of this preposition. Mathematics, algebra, and arithmetic include examples of relation of ideas (Shockley). “Matter of facts” is the second object of human reason. The base for their truth is their correspondence to a direct sense experience. The truth of “matter of facts” is able to be only experience, and in no other way (Shockley). Hume’s Analyses of Causation Hume, being an Empiricist, had firm faith in experiences being the reason for knowledge instead of innate ideas. He even applied this concept to Causation describing that the casual relationship between the two objects, cause and its effect, depends upon people’s habits and not on reasons. Hume explains that to understand the effect of any cause, one cannot look at the cause only to judge about what will happen next. He explains that to understand the effect of any cause, it is necessary to understand the relationship between these two, and a human mind unusually bases this relationship on bases of its experience and not on any logic or reason. For this, he gives an example of a billiard ball colliding with the other ball resulting in movement in the second ball due to the collision. He explains that a person who has no previous experience of watching the balls collision will not be able to judge the exact cause or effect of the collision in spite of using all of his or her sensible abilities . Hume argues that experience of constant conjunctions helps the human mind drive the idea of causation of any event. The use of these experiences to evaluate the possible future effect of an action does not depend upon any reason or logic. It actually depends on custom, the mental principle that associates cause and effect; so, whenever a human mind experiences a particular event which had a particular result in the past, it immediately thinks of that effect. While describing constant conjunction as the basis of causation by a human mind, Hume further describes that there are no bases that justify the use of constant conjunction to reach the conclusion about the causation of an event. Hume describes that a human mind does that on the bases of believe or assumption that the future will be similar to the past because of the constant conjunction it experienced in that regard; however, there is no justification for the assumption that the future will resemble the past. Hume named is as the “problem of induction” and argued that it is insoluble (Vickers). Hume’s views make sense that a human mind experience is one of the biggest contributors while analysing the causation of any event; however, it is not free of problem itself. The major problem with Hume’s view is his emphasis on constant conjunction for a person to reach a conclusion about an action. He does not describe how much of any experience will be sufficient for a human mind to be able to reach a conclusion regarding the cause and effect of any event. Further, Hume ignores the situations where constant conjunction might not be necessary and a single experience will be sufficient for gaining knowledge. Hume’s Moderate Scepticism Hume is categorised as a sceptic because of his nature to question the bases of believes. His scepticism involves rejection of priori principle of reasoning and causation. He did not rely on reason or religion to give meaning to reality. Hume’s focus was on human experience, science, and mathematics; he was of the view that books not based on the ground of human experience and mathematics are of no worth. He is one of first scientific philosophers who raised question on the validity of all the objects and beliefs and whose bases do not involve experience or substantial logical background. Hume completely disregards metaphysics and believes only in relation of ideas that deal with maths, algebra, and matter of facts that deals with experiences. His scepticism towards existence of God, immortality of soul, and other issues exhibits him to be a non-believer in religious values. Due to his habit to bring everything in to question, many people considered him to be a bitter sceptic with no truth to his own theories. One of the major reasons for his scepticism was his disregard of religious beliefs. Works Cited Morris, William E. David Hume. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy Archive, 2009. Web. 22 June 2014. Preston, Aaron. David Hume’s Treatment of Mind. University of Southern California, n.d. Web. 22 June 2014. Shockley, Paul R. What is Hume’s Fork? Paul Shockley Organization. n.d. Web. 24 June 2014. Vickers, John. The Problem of Induction. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2006. Web. 25 June 2014. Don’t use plagiarized sources. 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