Philosophy 1 Lecture Day 16
Hume an enquiry concerning Human Understanding
• Descartes helped pave the way for mathematical study of nature
1. However, his own physics proved to be untenable
• Cartesian philosophy was dominant in France
• Nicholas Malebranche broke with Descartes on one key issue
1. Our clear and distinct perceptions are visions of the mind of God.
2. Only God causes change in physical objects.
• Baruch Spinoza from the Netherlands
1. There is only one substance, God, and human minds are modes of God’s thought
• G.W. Leibniz from Germany rejected much of Descartes
1. Every substance perceives at least to a minimal extent
2. Physical objects are endowed with force besides being extended
• David Hume 3 major British empiricist
• British empiricist claimed that most human knowledge arises from sense perception
• Metaphysicians have undertaken to discover the nature of reality.
• Goal of Hume’s Enquiry is to set down the limits of human knowledge of reality.
• Hume looks for objects of the human mind understanding of which everyone is
• Perceptions are of two kinds:
1. Impressions which are original perceptions
2. Ideas, which are copies of impressions
• We can distinguish between the 2 by noting the degree of liveliness or vivacity of the
• Hume claims we can understand the meaning of an idea only by tracking it back to an
original impression and understand its meaning.
• Ideas occur in