David Hume’s Attack on the Traditional Understanding of Causal Power

Topics: Knowledge, Philosophy of science, A priori and a posteriori Pages: 1 (253 words) Published: March 12, 2006
This paper will present and explain David Hume’s attack on the traditional understanding of causal power. In order to do this I will use one of his most important claims (NC) “We never observe any such causal power in any of our experiences” and see where (NC) fits into his attack and also give a better explanation of what (NC) means. Hume starts his justification of (NC) by stating that every idea we hold is inspired from an impression in the world. Thus, the concept of a circle comes from circular objects we observe in the world with our senses. It is this sensory experiences that allows humans to formulate the idea of a circle and similarly all other ideas. It seems he is making the unstated claim that only experience can be the root of ideas and they can not be gained as a priori knowledge. In forming our definitions of certain ideas, if ambiguity is encountered from a confusing idea, one could always use the original impression of the idea to clarify the limits of the idea. In trying to define the idea of “necessary connection” there is no original idea to draw from. Hume states that to fully justify that we know the “necessary connection” one has to know that the first event will certainly mitigate one and only one other event and we also have to know what is the direct lead from the original to the final event.

Section 7: An Inquiry into Human Understanding: David hume
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