The Early Philosophy of David Hume

Topics: David Hume, Philosophy, Edinburgh Pages: 8 (2911 words) Published: December 10, 2007
Hume's Life
David Hume was the son of a minor Scottish landowner. His family wanted him to become a lawyer, but he felt an "insurmountable resistance to everything but philosophy and learning". Mr. Hume attended Edinburgh University, and in 1734 he moved to a French town called La Fleche to pursue philosophy. He later returned to Britain and began his literary career. As Hume built up his reputation, he gained more and more political power. Hume's Philosophy

HUME'S WRITINGS In 1742, Hume wrote Essays Moral and Political. Then in 1748, he wrote An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principals of Morals. WORKS ON INTERNET:

 Go HERE for a list of electronically available works of hume.  Go HERE For a bigger list.
HUME'S BELIEFS Hume believed that all knowledge came from experience. He also believed that a person's experience's existed only in the person's mind. Hume believed that there was a world outside of human conscience, but he did not think this could be proved. Hume grouped perceptions and experiences into one of two categories: impressions and ideas. Ideas are memories of sensations claimed Hume, but impressions are the cause of the sensation. In other words, an impression is part of a temporary feeling, but an idea is the permanent impact of this feeling. Hume believed that ideas were just dull imitations of impressons. Hume also attacked the idea of casualty. This idea states that for all effects there is a cause. Hume said that even though the cause preceded the effect, there is no proof that the cause is responsible for the effect's occurence. Mr. Hume was a firm believer that the human mind invented nothing. Instead, he claimed, the human mind takes simple ideas, and turns them into complex ideas. A simple example of this is the idea of an angel. Angels are human figures with wings. What Hume claimed that an angel is formed of two simple ideas, the human figure and wings. A more complicated example of this is heaven. When we attempt to break down the concept of heaven into simple ideas, we are left with things such as pearly gates, angels, and golden palaces. But these are all complex ideas as well (pearls+gates, gold+palaces), so it could be said that heaven is a complex idea formed by other complex ideas. The complex ideas that form it, however, are all made up of simple ideas Hume, David (1711-1776), Scottish historian and philosopher, who influenced the development of skepticism and empiricism, two schools of philosophy. Born in Edinburgh, Hume was educated at the University of Edinburgh, which he entered at the age of 12. From 1734 to 1737 he wrote his most important philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature (3 volumes, published 1739-1740), which contains the essence of his thinking. In spite of its importance, this work was ignored by the public, probably because of its complex style. From 1762 to 1765 Hume served as secretary to the British ambassador in Paris. There he formed a friendship with French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, which later dissolved after public denunciations between the two men. Hume's philosophical position was that reason and rational judgments are merely habitual associations of distinct sensations or experiences. In a revolutionary step, he rejected the basic idea of causation, maintaining that "reason can never show us the connexion of one object with another, tho' aided by experience, and the observation of their conjunction in all past instances." His arguments called into question the fundamental laws of science, which are based on the premise that one event necessarily causes another and predictably always will. According to Hume's philosophy, therefore, knowledge of matters of fact is impossible, although as a practical matter he freely acknowledged that people had to think in terms of cause and effect and had to assume the validity of their perceptions, or they would go mad. David Hume, who has...
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