David Humes Thoughts On Empiricism

Topics: Philosophy, David Hume, Empiricism Pages: 4 (793 words) Published: May 7, 2014
David Hume’s thoughts on Empiricism
One of the most notable figures in the history of western philosophy was Scottish philosopher David Hume. Hume was widely known for his views on Empiricism. Empiricism has been pondered since the beginnings of philosophy by many famous figures, from Aristotle to John Locke. (Wikipedia) Empiricism claims that human knowledge is founded on observation and use of the five senses. Hume published a literary work titled Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. This had a profound impact on empiricist philosophy. (Heter) In section 2 of the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, titled Of the Origin of Ideas, Hume makes distinctions about impressions and ideas. Simply stating how a memory obtained from the central nervous system can never reach the level of raw, vividness that the original impression had made. An example of this concept can be something along the lines of experiencing free fall. We have all experienced free fall at some point in our lives. Simply recalling that moment can never fully allow us to grasp the gut wrenching excitement of pure gravity. An interesting thought brought forward in section 2 is The Copy Principle. Hume states "But though our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and real life experience…"(Enquiry, Section II) In layman's terms, imagination of the human mind might be perceived as limitless. However, in reality, it is really a combination of sensory information and real life experiences. To this end, Hume believes that there are no truly original ideas. Everything we can conceive is a "copy" or modification of material afforded to us by our surroundings. Examples of this can be found all around us. Such as the...

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Heter, T. Storm. "Empiricism." First Philosophy: A Handbook for Beginning Philosophers. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 15-21. Print.
Hume, David. "Section II: Of the Origin of Ideas." An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. N.p.: n.p., 1784. N. pag. Print.
Wikipedia contributors. "David Hume." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
Wikipedia contributors. "Empiricism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Sep. 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
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