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Hume Sparknotes.docx

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Bonnie Fox

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Hume Sparknotes Overall Summary: - Distinguishes between impressions and ideas o All knowledge comes from impressions, and so ideas are secondary to impressions  Everything in our mind is based ultimately upon simple impressions - Impressions o Sensory impressions, emotions, other vivid mental phenomena o Vivid and clearly defined o Objections: there is some level of vagueness in our impressions that Hume doesn’t acknowledge  Often have trouble distinguishing tastes  Difficult to tell the difference between 56” stick and 57” stick - Ideas o Thoughts or beliefs or memories related to impressions o Less lively and vivid - We build up ideas from simple impressions by means of three laws of association: o Resemblance o Contiguity (contact or proximity) o Cause and effect  The thought of a wound makes us think of the pain that follows from it) - Distinguishes between relations of ideas and matter of fact - Relations of ideas o Mathematical truths o Denial of them would result in a contradiction - Matters of fact o More common truths we learn from experience o Denying a matter of fact is not contradictory o For the most part we understand matters of fact according to cause and effect  Direct impression leads to inference about some unobserved cause - Hume says we can’t justify these casual inferences - We cannot justify future predictions from past experience without some principle that dictates that the future will always resemble the past - We have no rational justification for believing in cause and effect - Hume says habit, not reason, enforces a perception of necessary connection between events o When we see two things constantly conjoined our imagination infers a necessary connection between them even if there’s no rational grounds for doing so - Our inferences regarding matters of fact are based on probably o How many times two events conjoined is experienced - All meaningful terms must be reducible to the simple impressions from which they are built up Essay - Reason refers to deductive reasoning - Induction refers to inductive reasoning - WE USE EXPERIENCE (EVIDENCE FROM SENSES) TO GROUND BELIEFS WE HAVE ABOUT THINGS WE HAVEN’T OBSERVED o Hume asks if this evidence is good evidence? - Inductive generalization – infer that all members of a certain class will be similar to those we’ve actually observed - Inductive predictions – assumptions about future events based on our past experience) - Causal generalizations – we can’t determine the hidden causal powers of particular things but we infer these capacities from our experience with those kinds of things (ex. Nourishing power of bread) - The inductive argument from the sensory argument to the general conclusion isn’t logically guaranteed o Possible for conclusion to be false even if the premises are true o It’s not guaranteed but it seems likely to be true because of the evidence that supports it Other notes: - Hume concludes we have no good reason to believe almost everything we believe about the world - Hume is an empiricist philosopher and a naturalist o Naturalist – he suggests nature, not reason, leads us to believe the things we do - How can past experience teach me anything about the future? - Hume concludes that we are not rationally justified in believing the things we do - There are no grounds for certainty or proof of inferences based on causal reasoning - HABIT has taught us we are safe in making certain inferences and believing certain things - Hume is concerned with what and how we know - Hume argues that
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