PHI 205 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Empirical Evidence

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Published on 28 Feb 2017
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Discussion of Hume’s Inquiry
Rationalism and Empiricism
Rationalism: It is possible for a person to know that p when the justification for
believing that p isn’t derived from sense experience (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching,
smelling…)
Empiricism: It is impossible for a person to know that p when the justification for
believing that p isn’t derived from sense experience (seeing, hearing, tasting, touching,
smelling…)
o Hume was an empiricist
Illustrations:
o Logical truths
That either the sun is shining or it isn’t shining
o Mathematical truths
That 7 + 5 = 12
o Theistic truths
That God exists
o Self-knowledge
That I exist
Hume’s Inquiry
Impressions vs. ideas
o “Here therefore we may divide all perceptions of the mind into two classes or
species, which are distinguished by their different degrees of force and vivacity.
The less forcible and lively are commonly denominated thoughts or ideas.”
Ideas
o “By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we
hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or will. And impressions are
distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions, of which we are
conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations.”
Impressions
Used to talk about mental events/states
o Hume says there’s something qualitative about perceptions (impressions)
o He says ideas correspond to impressions, but ideas themselves do not have the
same kind of qualitative character
o There is a considerable difference between the perceptions of the mind, when a
man feels the pain of excessive heat, or the pleasure of moderate warmth, and
when he afterwards recalls it to his memory this sensation, or anticipates it by his
imagination. These faculties may mimic or copy the perceptions of the senses; but
they never can entirely reach the force and vivacity of the original sentiment.”
Simple vs. complex ideas the architecture of ideas
o The idea of a gold mountain
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