Hume, Ayer, Sartre

18 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Mark Kingwell

HUME Miracles Hume first explains the principle of evidence: the only way that we can judge between two empirical claims is by weighing the evidence. The degree to which we believe one claim over another is proportional to the degree by which the evidence for one outweighs the evidence for the other. The weight of evidence is a function of such factors as the reliability, manner, and number of witnesses. Now, a miracle is defined as: "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent." As the evidence for a miracle is always limited, as miracles are single events, occurring at particular times and places, the evidence for the miracle will always be outweighed by the evidence against the evidence for the law of which the miracle is supposed to be a transgression. Empiricism - the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense- experience. For Hume, all the materials of thinking perceptions are derived either from sensation (outward sentiment) or from reflection (inward sentiment) Trying to go beyond perceptions, as metaphysics must, inevitably involves going beyond anything that can have cognitive content. Deflationism - According to the deflationary theory of truth, to assert that a statement is true is just to assert the statement itself. For example, to say that snow is white is true, or that it is true that snow is white, is equivalent to saying simply that snow is white, and this, according to the deflationary theory, is all that can be said significantly about the truth of snow is white. Copy Principle - Hume presents the Copy Principle as an empirical thesis. The Copy Principle accounts for the origins of our ideas. The principles required for connecting our ideas aren't theoretical and rational; they are natural operations of the mind that we experience in internal sensation. Hume identifies three principles of connexion or association: resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect. Missing Shade of Blue - the infamous missing shade of blue as an empirical counterexample to the Copy Principle. Hume plausibly maintains that we would first notice that there is a gap where the shade is missing from our mental ordering of the shades of blue, just as we would also easily notice when a chip was missing from the physical array. Impressions Hume accepts that the object of knowledge is solely the sense impressions perceived by the subject. The impression is an actual vivid perception which brings with it conviction or positive belief in the existence of a corresponding objective reality. Hume logically developed to its extreme conclusions the empiristic principle that subjective impressions alone are the immediate objects of knowledge. Passage outside our sensitive impressions is not possible. Hence there is no metaphysics: we know nothing of God, of the exterior world, or of our own soul. Simple v. complex idea For Hume, simple ideas are faint copies of impressions, whereas complex ideas are ensembles or assemblages of simple ideas. First, every simple idea is a copy of an impression of inner or outer sense. Second, every complex idea is a bundle or assemblage of simple ideas, i.e., complex ideas are structured ensembles of simple ideas. The Problem of Induction Induction is: a means of proving a theorem by showing that if it is true of any particular case, it is true of the next case in a series, and then showing that it is indeed true in one particular case. Hume believes that induction cannot be justified. Since induction is a contingent methodeven good inductions may lead from truths to falsehoods there can be no deductive justification for induction. First, Hume ponders the discovery of causal relations, which form the basis for what he refers to as "matters of fact." He argues that causal relations are found not by reason, but by induction. This is because for any cause, multiple effects are conceivable, and the actual effect cannot be determined by reasoning about the cause; instead, one must observe occurrences of the causal relation to discover that it holds. Hume ponders the justification of induction. If all matters of fact are based on causal relations, and all causal relations are found by induction, then induction must be shown to be valid somehow. He uses the fact that induction assumes a valid connection between the proposition "I have found that such an object has always been attended with such an effect" and the proposition "I foresee that other objects which are in appearance similar will be attended with similar effects." How do human beings form opinions about unobserved matters fact? In this way, the problem of induction is not only concerned with the uncertainty of conclusions derived by induction, but doubts the very principle through which those uncertain conclusions are derived. Substance In David Hume's system, impressions and ideas are the substances. According to Hume, our belief in substance is the result of a mistake or illusion. Thus Hume's treatment of substance is like his treatment of causation, in that he sees both as the projection onto the world of a tendency of our minds either to pass from one thing to another or to associate them in some way. Self/Mind Hume - who held that the self is nothing but a bundle of interconnected perceptions linked by relations of similarity and causality; or, more accurately, that our idea of the self is just the idea of such a bundle. Causality There is a relationship between cause and effect and the principle that everything has a cause. In other words, if we believe a relationship exists between two events, then one of these events, the cause, will readily recall the other, the effect. The problem comes, of course, when we ask how it is that we know that a causal relationship exists. Obviously, a distinction must be made between causation as a physical property and causality as a mental idea. Traditionally, the following definitions have been made: causation is the physical property of one event causing another, such as one ball colliding with and causing the movement of a second ball. This property is part of the realm of mechanics and physics. Causality, on the other hand, describes the attribution by an organism of an effect to a cause. Free will - an absence for constraint. Skepticism In Hume we see the final logical consequences which an empirical theory of knowledge entails. The result is skepticism. We have no certain, self-evident knowledge of anything. Our knowledge is confined to impressions and ideas, and so we are not in a position to assert the existence either of material objects or of spiritual entities. Our notion of causality, that a particular effect is necessarily produced by a
More Less

Related notes for PHL100Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.