I. HUME’S PHILOSOPHY INFLUENCED KANT, WHO QUITE PROPERLY DESERVES A CHAPTER OF HIS OWN. FOR NOW LET'S REFER TO KANT AS THE 'GREAT SYNTHESIZER.'
A. HUME BEGINS WITH WHAT WE EXPERIENCE EVERY DAY
B. MAN REASONS BY:
1. IMPRESSIONS--IMMEDIATE SENSATIONS
2. IDEAS--RECOLLECTIONS OF THESE
C. WE CAN FORM COMPLEX IDEAS FOR WHICH THERE IS NO REALITY BASE, BUT IS THIS A MATTER OF EXPERIENCE OR FAITH? WHAT IS A MIRACLE?--
4. GOD (HOW WE EXPERIENCED DAD)
5. THE HUMAN EGO / STATE OF FLUX
D. FAITH VS. REASON--HE IS AN AGNOSTIC. HOW DOES HIS METAPHYSICAL AND EPISTEMOLOGICAL POSITION LEAD TO SKEPTICISM? CLICK HERE FOR A SITE THAT DISCUSSES THE ISSUE.
PRIMARY SOURCE EXCERPT FROM INQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING on the nature of philosophical skepticism:
The sceptic, therefore, had better keep within his proper sphere, and display those philosophical objections, which arise from more profound researches. Here he seems to have ample matter of triumph; while he justly insists, that all our evidence for any matter of fact, which lies beyond the testimony of sense or memory, is derived entirely from the relation of cause and effect; that we have no other idea of this relation than that of two objects, which have been frequently conjoined together; that we have no argument to convince us, that objects, which have, in our experience, been frequently conjoined, will likewise, in other instances, be conjoined in the same manner; and that nothing leads us to this inference but custom or a certain instinct of our nature; which it is indeed difficult to resist, but which, like other instincts, may be fallacious and deceitful. While the sceptic insists upon these topics, he shews his force, or rather, indeed, his own and our weakness; and seems, for the time at least, to destroy all assurance and conviction. These arguments might be displayed at greater length, if any durable good or benefit to society could ever be expected to result from them.
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HUME ON MIRACLES:
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as could possibly be imagined.
Though the being to whom the miracle is ascribed be almighty, it does not, upon this account become a whit more probable; since it is impossible for us to know the attributes or actions of such a being, otherwise than from the experience we have of his productions, in the usual course of nature. This still reduces us to past observation, and obliges us to compare the instance of the violations of truth in the testimony of men, with those of the violation of the laws of nature by miracles, in order to judge which of them is most likely and probable.
Click here for commentary and analysis by Victor Reppert
E. THE CHILD IS OPEN - MINDED AND HIS / HER SKEPTICISM ALLOWS FOR WHAT THE FIXED HABITS OF THE ADULT DENY--I.E. MIRACLES
F. OUR MIND IMPOSES AN ORDER ON EVENTS IN THE SENSE WORLD--THIS WILL ANTICIPATE KANTS CATEGORIES:
1. IF X FOLLOWS Y, WHAT CAN WE NOT ASSUME?
2. IS THIS IN NATURE , OR WHAT THE MIND IMPOSES ON NATURE
G. WE CANNOT REJECT WHAT WE HAVE NOT SEEN SIMPLY BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT YET SEEN IT.
II. IT IS NEVER IN ETHICS POSSIBLE TO DRAW A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AN IS AND AN OUGHT.
A. FEELINGS DETERMINE ETHICAL BEHAVIOR
C. E.G.: MORE AND MORE PEOPLE DRIVE, SO OUGHT WE TO BUILD MORE ROADS.
1. TAX DOLLARS
4. IF THE NOVEL WERE WRITTEN TODAY, COULD WE ADD CORPORATE BAILOUTS?
III. WE MUST STRENGTHEN OUR COMPASSION FOR THE WELFARE OF OTHERS
A. WAS THE HOLOCAUST A MATTER OF INCORRECT REASONING, OR FEELINGS GONE WRONG. (P. 277)
B. WHAT REASON DOES WITH TECHNOLOGY IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO WITH IT.
C. HUME'S ETHICS ANTICIPATES THE ROMANTICS, ESPECIALLY SHELLEY'S DEFENSE OF POETRY.
See the Supplementary Reading page for excerpts from Hume's writings, and...