Monday, January 4, 2016
-David Hume (1711-1776)
•A radical empiricist who shows that taking empiricism seriously leads to skepticism
-What can we know? And where does knowledge come from?
•For Hume, knowledge comes from experience. But his?
•Knowledge is based on ideas, in turn, ideas come from our senses and the history
of what we have sensed.
•1) Outer senses: when we immediately taste or touch
•2) Inner senses: when we recall having tasted or touched
•There is a difference between the perception of something and the memory of
perception. “the most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation” (353)
•Eg. To feel ﬁre vs to remember having been burnt.
-There are only impressions and ideas
•1. Impressions: (sensation) cannot be confused and correspond to Locke’s
•2. Thoughts/ideas: function of the minds ability to manipulate what is given by
-Impressions and Ideas(thoughts): “all our more lives perceptions, when we hear, or
see, or feel, or love, or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are
the less lively perceptions…” (354)
-All ideas can be traced to impressions
•Even the most fanciful ideas can ultimately be shown to be composed of simple
ideas: A golden mountain is conjoining of “mountain and gold” (354).
•1. “when we analyze our thoughts or ideas, however compounded or sublime, we
always ﬁne that they resolve themselves into such simple ideas as were copied
from a precedent feeling or sentiment”.