Hume paper - Johansen 1 Houston Johansen May 26, 2007...

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Johansen 1 Houston Johansen May 26, 2007 Professor Jones Philosophy 157 Problems With Experience as a Basis for Knowledge In the first section of part four of David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume breaks down human thought, understating, and reasoning into two categories. He calls the first category “relations of ideas.” Relations of ideas are more commonly known today as deductive reasoning. Or more simply reasoning that is based on mathematics. Hume calls the other category of human reasoning “matters of fact.” Matters of fact are similar to what is known today as inductive reasoning. That is reason based on observation, cause and effect, and probability. After breaking down the two forms of human reasoning Hume goes on to ask the question, what other then ones senses can secure matters of fact? The answer that Hume proposes is cause and effect. However, as Hume delves into looking at cause and effect, and their its role in reasoning, is a poor means for acquiring knowledge. Hume begins part two by asking the reader a question. “What is the nature of all our reasoning’s concerning matter of fact? (20).” The answer is cause and effect. Hume goes on to ask a second question based upon this answer. “When again it is asked, what is the foundation of all our reasoning’s and conclusions concerning that relation? (20)” The answer to this question is experience. Hume is arguing that matter of facts, which are based upon cause in effect, are rooted in human experience. To better conceptualize this idea consider this example. When I hold a rock up and let it go it falls to the ground. I
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Johansen 2 hold it up again, and let it go, and it falls to the ground again. My experience tells me that if I let go of a rock while holding it, it will fall. I have experienced the cause, the letting go of the rock, and the effect, it hitting the ground. Thus, I could conclude that as a matter of fact, whenever a rock is held up and then let go of it, it will fall. This is a rudimentary explanation of how experience shapes ones understanding. With this argument made,
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course PHILOSOPHY 157 taught by Professor Jones during the Spring '07 term at Goucher.

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Hume paper - Johansen 1 Houston Johansen May 26, 2007...

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