7. Hume - Knowledge, Reason and Experience

  • Created by: ewilco1
  • Created on: 08-04-19 12:03

Hume's Fork

Objects of human reason and enquiry: 

  • Relations of Ideas - intuitvely or demonstratbly certain. Discoverable by thought. Geometry, Algebra, Arithmacy. That three times five (15) is equal to half of thirty. That the square of the hypotenuse is the same of the length of the two sides. 
  • Matters of Fact - The opposite is always possible e.g. the sun will not rise tomorrow is just as possible as the sun will rise. You cannot prove it wrong. It is concievable. 

We can't know much about matters of fact, even that things have causal relations with each other. Causation is not itself a matter of fact or known by reason either. 

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Hume on Causation

The idea of a relation between 'cause' and 'effect' - what makes the effect the effect of the cause, and what makes the cause the cause of the effect. 

Three elements

1. Contingunty in time and space

2. Succession in time of the cause and effect

3. Constant conjunction in the past experience of the 'cause' leading to the effect (Locke)


4. Necessary connection - between the cause and effect.

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The Idea of Necessary Connection

I cannot know rationally, merely by analysis, that the ball hitting another ball will make it move. We think we 'know' this because of past experience, but it is not impossible for the ball to jump up instead, because we can imagine this. We have no sense experience of this necessary connection idea. All we see is the continguncy in space and time between the cause and the effect, the constacy, not the necessary connection. Constant conjunction doesn't change anything things experienced. 

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Causal Inference

Nevertheless, we do believe that A will folllow B as a matter of necessity. It is not determined by reason, but by certain principles, which associate the ideas of those objects and unite them in the imagination.

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