Hume paper

Hume paper - Scott Welch Dr. Maddox History of Modern...

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Scott Welch Dr. Maddox History of Modern Philosophy November 27, 2006 The Notion of Cause and Effect: A Glimpse at David Hume And Modern Physics The concept of cause and effect has been reviewed time and again throughout philosophical debates. The relation between these ideas was greatly advanced in the philosophy of David Hume in his works on An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding . This essay will focus on Hume’s philosophy of cause and effect by analyzing the original piece, some current reviews of it, and finally by conjoining his philosophy with those of scientific advances. I. Original Analysis In order to advance into the correlation of Hume’s philosophy of cause and effect and modern physics, his initial intent must be carefully examined and defined. In the Inquiry, Hume takes great care to design a philosophical argument that will relay to the audience a strong skeptical approach to empiricism. He initially approaches this by identifying the origin of ideas, how one associates ideas together, troubles related to the classification of them, how to deal with these troubles, and finally he ventures into the realm of necessary connection between ideas. These steps will now be examined in depth to give a better understanding of how Hume’s philosophy all comes together.
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Welch In Section II, Hume describes the origin of ideas. He begins by naming the two categories of perceptions as ideas and impressions. The definitions he uses are simple. Hume states, “the less forcible and lively are commonly denominated thoughts or ideas… 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.” (MP 497) More plainly, the ideas are simply reflections, or memories, of one’s past impressions which are immediate and temporal. The proof for these definitions is explored by Hume, however, this paper will assume the above definitions to suffice and will proceed with how the ideas one forms are connected. The association of ideas is a brief section in which Hume seems to foreshadow his intent of discrediting the knowledge of cause and effect. He asserts that there is a “principle of connection between the different thoughts or ideas of the mind.” (MP 499) He later describes these principles as “resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause or effect.” (MP 499) It appears that by placing all ideas within one of the three principles, or some incorporation of the three, Hume has given an early rise to the possibility of doubt in one’s knowledge of ideas. This doubt is examined in Section IV of the Inquiry. When Hume embarks on the skeptical doubts of understanding he has several key steps in mind. The first is an understanding of reason, in which, there are two separate distinct types. The relations of ideas, is an inquiry into “every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain.” (MP 500) This type of inquiry is not contradictable, as in a triangle has three sides or a bachelor is an unmarried man. The
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Hume paper - Scott Welch Dr. Maddox History of Modern...

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