Poe’s experimental fiction revitalizes Hume’s ambivalent empiricism, the complexities of which were sometimes obscured in the philosopher’s nineteenth-century American reception. Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ broaches formally the question of how one thought leads to another, while ‘The Man that Was Used Up’ stages the question of what grounds the unity of one’s thoughts. Reading both tales together exposes the scope and limits of an associationist paradigm often traced back to Hume. But reading Hume through Poe’s verbal art reveals (...) that Hume’s ‘mitigated scepticism’ about personal identity is more difficult to grapple with, and potentially more devastating for Western Reason, than the modes of scepticism that more comfortably entered the English canon. In ‘Rue Morgue’, Detective Dupin’s presumption to reconstruct fully the narrator’s train of thought may be the real locus of the tale’s horror. In the ‘Man that Was Used Up’, the heroic General A.B.C. Smith disintegrates on the floor into a talking ‘bundle’ that parodically literalizes Hume’s most famous metaphor in the Treatise. Hume’s bundle thus reappears in Poe as the proto-surrealist ‘terminus’ of a reductive explanation that has become physically real. To say with Hume that the mind is a ‘fiction’ is not to deny the goings-on of mental phenomena, but to attempt a much more challenging claim: that our minds conceptualize themselves out of their own limited nature, but not in a way that necessarily accords with that nature. If Hume brings out the parody in Poe, we might also say that Poe amplifies the irony in Hume. (shrink)
Hume is an experimental philosopher who attempts to understand why we think, feel, and act as we do. But how should we evaluate the adequacy of his proposals? This chapter examines Hume’s account from the perspective of interdisciplinary work in cognitive science.
En el presente artículo se propone una interpretación del pensamiento de Hume para la comprensión de temas y problemas filosóficos que Hume, en su tiempo, no tuvo en consideración, pero que el día de hoy son relevantes. En primer lugar, se analiza el principio de semejanza y se postula la tesis de la unidad de las percepciones a partir de dicho principio. En segundo lugar, mediante un razonamiento analógico se trata de aplicar la doctrina de las percepciones en Hume para (...) la comprensión y fundamentación filosófica de los derechos humanos, en especial en lo tocante al principio de igualdad y simpatía entre seres humanos. Finalmente, se considera una concepción contemporánea de semejanza que nos permite replantear el problema y reafirmar la importancia de la imaginación y la fantasía en la comprensión y fundamentación de los derechos humanos. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss Eino Kaila's (1890-1958) understanding of David Hume. Kaila was one of the leading Finnish philosophers of the 20th century and a correspondent of the Vienna Circle. He introduced logical empiricism into Finland and taught Georg Henrik von Wright. Final draft.
This paper aims to clarify the program of Deleuze’s work on Hume’s philosophy. Also, I plan to make clear the operational meaning of Deleuze’s own hallmark regarding his approaches to philosophy. I start to follow Deleuze’s plot by engendering three functions of his interpretation of Hume’s Treatise that will be the area of three thematic chapters. The first tries to sort the polemical function of empiricism that is launched through Deleuze’s Hume; the second attempts to figure the domain of subjectivity (...) as the inventive function of the book; the third searches the creative function by describing the role of the institutional theory. (shrink)
Much of what Hume calls probable reasoning is deliberate and reflective. Since there are aspects to Hume’s psychology that tempt some commentators to think, on the contrary, that for Hume all such reasoning is simple and immediate, I will be concerned to emphasize Hume’s recognition of the sophisticated sort of probable reasoning (section I). Though some of the details of my case may be new, the overall point of this section should not be news to recent scholarship. But once we (...) recognize that this reflective and deliberate reasoning constitutes a significant portion of all probable reasoning, it becomes legitimate to ask how Hume accommodates this reasoning in his psychology, his ‘science of man.’ I believe that .. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that Hume endorses the claim that causal cognition can be fully explained in terms of nothing but custom and habit. Associative learning does, of course, play a major role in the cognitive psychology of the Treatise. But Hume recognizes that associations cannot provide a complete account of causal thought. If human beings lacked the capacity to reflect on rules for judging causes and effects, then we could not (as we do) distinguish between accidental and genuine regularities, (...) and Hume could not (as he does) carry out his science of human nature. One might reply that what appears to be rule-governed behavior might emerge from associative systems that do not literally employ rules. But this response fails: there is a growing consensus in cognitive science that any adequate account of causal learning must invoke active, controlled cognitive processes. (shrink)
Many prominent scholars of Hume's philosophy have suggested that Hume eventually abandoned his associationist account of sympathy, which he made so much of in the Treatise, by the time he came to write the second Enquiry. In this paper I reconsider the seeming disappearance of the associationist account of sympathy, but with the ultimate aim of defending a no-change hypothesis. That is, I’ll argue that careful analysis reveals that Hume not only retained the associationist theory of sympathy in his later (...) work, he made no substantive changes to this theory, including in particular, in EPM. (shrink)
I consider a class of argument implying that Hume’s position on general representation is irredeemably circular in that it presupposes what it is meant to explain. Arguments of this sort (the most famous being Sellars’ “myth of the given”) threaten to undermine any empiricist account of general representation by showing how they depend on the naïve assumption that the relevant resemblances required for the sorting of experience into concepts for use in reasoning are simply given in experience itself. My aim (...) is to salvage Hume’s account from this objection. To that end, I argue first for a “Goodmanesque” interpretation of Humean resemblance, and second for an alternative reading of Hume’s account of general ideas offered at T 1.1.7 that avoids falling into “the given” trap. (shrink)
The associationist interpretation of Hume's account of causal belief is criticized. The origin of this mistaken interpretation is explained. The difference between Hume's views in the Treatise of Human Nature and in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding is examined.
O objetivo deste artigo é discutir três problemas centrais na filosofia de David Hume. O primeiro é o do papel da associação de idéias: no Tratado há dois conceitos distintos dessa associação, falha corrigida na primeira Investigação, em que é eliminado o conceito de associação costumeira e não se atribui à associação qualquer papel na formação de inferências causais. O segundo diz respeito ao verdadeiro papel da indução. A filosofia humeana trata da descoberta dos poderes causais dos objetos, sem nunca (...) se ocupar de generalizações acerca de qualidades sensíveis. Hume descobriu o problema da indução causal, mas apenas como conseqüência de sua análise da inferência causal. O último de nossos problemas é o do exato conceito humeano daquele instinto que ele chama de costume ou hábito. O princípio de Hume mostra ser apenas uma sensibilidade à repetição de conjunções, sendo relevante apenas o elemento repetição, sem haver qualquer influência significativa da passagem do tempo, o que impede a interpretação desse princípio como habituação ou algo equivalente. Hume: three majors problemsThis article aims to discuss three central problems in David Humes philosophy. A first central problem in Humes philosophy concerns the role of the association of ideas: there are in the Treatise two distinct concepts of this association, a negligence that was corrected in the first Enquiry, where the concept of customary association is eliminated and no role is assigned to association in the formation of causal beliefs. The second is about the real meaning of induction. Humes philosophy discusses the discovery of the causal powers of objects, setting aside any generalisation about sensible qualities. Hume did discover the problem of causal induction, but only as a consequence of his analysis of causal inference. The last of our three problems concerns the exact Humean concept of the instinct he calls custom or habit. It is noticeable that Hume´s principle is just sensitiveness to the repetition of conjunctions, with no meaningful influence of the passage of time, and this goes against any interpretation of this principle as becoming accustomed or anything of the kind. (shrink)
Hume's project aimed at the discovery of the principles of human nature, and among these the most important in most respects is not association of ideas, but the one he calls "custom or habit." But what is the real nature of Hume's principle? It would be philosophically naïve to decide that Hume's concept of habit simply reproduces the dominant conception. In the latter the main element is time, and the possibility of habit depending only on repetition is absent in the (...) tradition, from Aristotle to Berkeley. When Hume proposes to explain causal inference by habit, he uses this word as tantamount to the old principle of induction by simple enumeration, which may depend only on repetition, the element of time being reduced to the strict minimum necessary for the repetition to occur. Hume's principle of causal knowledge is really a new principle, not the old "psychological" tendency called custom or habit, and his attempt tacitly was to change the very essence of the concept involved. (shrink)
Hume introduced important innovations concerning the theory of ideas. The two most important are the distinction between impressions and ideas, and the use he made of the principles of association in explaining mental phenomena. Hume divided the perceptions of the mind into two classes. The members of one class, impressions, he held to have a greater degree of force and vivacity than the members of the other class, ideas. He also supposed that ideas are causally dependent copies of impressions. And, (...) unlike Locke and others, Hume makes positive use of the principle of association, both of the association of ideas, and, in a more limited way, of the association of impressions. Such associations are central to his explanations of causal reasoning, belief, the indirect passions (pride and humility, love and hatred), and sympathy. These views about impressions and ideas and the principles of association form the core of Hume’s science of human nature. Relying on them, he attempts a rigorously empirical investigation of human nature. The resulting system is a remarkable but complex achievement. (shrink)
I. Two topics given prominence in the early sections of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding are those of thought and belief. Of each Hume asks two questions. One, which we might call the constitutive question: what exactly is it to have a thought, or to hold a belief?—and another, which we may call the genetic question: how do we come by our thoughts, or our capacity to think them, and how do we come to believe that certain of these thoughts (...) are true? In this lecture I shall be considering the detail of Hume's answers to these questions; but first I want to say a little about why they should have loomed large for him at all. (shrink)