Handout for a Conference in Honor of Don Garrett at NYU. Hume is famous for his critique of attempts to make robust use of terms like “power” or “faculty” in a philosophical or scientific context. But Hume’s philosophy is itself structured around the attribution to human beings of a variety of basic faculties or mental powers – such as reason or the understanding, the imagination, and the various powers involved in Hume’s account of impressions of sensation and reflection. Indeed, this (...) is so true that, Hume “never hesitates to infer from the fact that the mind regularly does something of a particular recognizable kind that it has a power to do it and a faculty by which it does.” (Garrett 2015, 81) In this way, Hume continues to treat mental faculties as forming something very close to the explanatory bedrock of his new “science of man”. In this talk, I consider whether Hume is entitled to this – or whether it points to a fundamental instability in his philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I aim to investigate Hume’s well-known distinction between impressions and ideas, following the methodology of the history of ideas, and showing its specificity and suggesting a possible source, which has not been given much attention by the scholarship, namely the logical doctrines of the physician and anatomist William Harvey, which provide the key concepts to understand Hume’s logic of ideas. After some introductory remarks, the second part deals with the many issues involved in Hume’s distinction, and in (...) the third part I examine Harvey’s logic of ideas. In conclusion I assess Hume’s debt to the English physician. (shrink)
This is partly fictional. It is chiefly a reconstruction (not always faithful) of Hume’s fundamental uses of notions of similarity, mostly based on Enquiry. It is the first part (out of four) of a monograph on the evolution of similarity toolmaking. Histories of doctrines are common in our discipline, not so for histories of tools; this is what it’s about. What’s disturbing: I write as if I were talking about the customs and beliefs of ancient tribes instead of real philosophers. (...) Advantages: helps focus on what similarity tools are apt to, I don’t have to worry about my Hume being merely MY Hume; more fun. Here is the thematic layout: 1.1: (very fictional) methodological introduction; page 2. 1.2: on the origin of ideas + missing shade of blue; p. 4. 1.3: the Xenophobia model; p. 12. 1.4: case studies of cognitive trickery; p. 16 : 1.4.1: arguments from experience; p. 17. 1.4.2: the idea of necessary connection; p. 21. 1.4.3: abstract and very general ideas; p. 23. 1.5: conceptual distinctions between used similarity tools and a few comments; p. 29. (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.
In a recent paper, Karl Schafer argues that Hume's theory of mental representation has two distinct components, unified by their shared feature of having accuracy conditions. As Schafer sees it, simple and complex ideas represent the intrinsic imagistic features of their objects whereas abstract ideas represent the relations or structures in which multiple objects stand. This distinction, however, is untenable for at least two related reasons. Firstly, complex ideas represent the relations or structures in which the impressions that are the (...) objects of their simple components stand. Secondly, abstract ideas are themselves instances of complex ideas. I draw two important conclusions from these facts. Firstly, contra Schafer and Garrett, the Copy Principle, properly emended, constitutes the entirety of Hume's theory of mental representation. Secondly, whereas paradigm examples of complex ideas, e.g. ideas of spatial and temporal complexes, are structured by relations of contiguity, abstract ideas are those complex ideas instead structured by relations of resemblance. As such, they represent their objects not as spatially or temporally contiguous but rather as resembling. (shrink)
I defend a reading of David Hume’s nominalism that he comes close to Keith Campbell's contemporary trope theory in the specific case of spatial properties. I argue that Hume's view should be construed as classifying spatial properties as Campbellian tropes (particular properties): abstract, particular, determinate and qualitatively simple properties. This has implications for reconstructing Hume's answer to the problem of universals. I argue that Hume’s account of objects resembling each other in respect of spatial properties is grounded in the resemblance (...) of tropes rather than in the resemblance of objects. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Hume's solution to a problem that contemporary metaphysicians call “the problem of universals” would be rather trope-theoretical than some other type of nominalism. The basic idea in different trope theories is that particular properties, i.e., tropes are postulated to account for the fact that there are particular beings resembling each other. I show that Hume's simple sensible perceptions are tropes: simple qualities. Accordingly, their similarities are explained by these tropes themselves and their resemblance. Reading (...) Hume as a trope nominalist sheds light on his account of general ideas, perceptions, relations and nominalism. (shrink)
according to hume’s theory of general representation, we represent generalities by associating certain ideas with certain words. On one prominent understanding of this theory, calling things by one name or another does not represent any real qualities of those things or any real relations between them. This interpretation runs into difﬁculty when we turn our attention to Hume’s own use of such general terms throughout the Treatise. It would seem that Hume’s own distinctions—such as the impression-idea distinction and simple-complex distinction—require (...) that the items so.. (shrink)
in the treatise, hume claims to identify many “fictions of the imagination” among both “vulgar” and philosophical beliefs. To name just a few, these include the fiction of one aggregate composed of many parts,1 the fiction of a material object’s identity through change, and the fiction of a human mind’s identity through change and interruption in its existence. Hume claims that these fictions and others like them are somehow defective: in his words, they are “improper,” “inexact,” or not “strict”. I (...) will argue that this claim conflicts with other commitments.. (shrink)
David Hume’s and later Ludwig Wittgenstein’s views on concepts are generally presented as standing in stark opposition to each other. In a nutshell, Hume’s theory of concepts is taken to be subjectivistic and atomistic, while Wittgenstein is metonymic with a broadly pragmatistic and holistic doctrine that gained much attention during the second half of the 20th century. In this essay, I shall argue, however, that Hume’s theory of concepts is indeed much more akin to the views of Wittgenstein and his (...) epigones than many, including Wittgenstein himself, probably might have suspected. As I try to show, Hume anticipates many themes central to Wittgenstein’s writings on language and meaning, and actually takes initial steps towards both an anti-subjectivistic and anti-atomistic psychology and epistemology. (shrink)
La relación entre ideas e imágenes en sus distintas formulaciones filosóficas a lo largo de la modernidad es uno de los elementos clave para la definición de unas y otras, tanto en la teoría epistemológica como en la estética. Este artículo se centra en el estudio de la teoría de las ideas abstractas de Hume, basada en su concepción de las ideas como imágenes. Investigo así sus raíces en la obra de Berkeley, para analizar seguidamente la pretensión humeana de presentar (...) una teoría por completo nominalista. Aquí, el concepto de semejanza, central para la definición de una imagen visual, se revelará como uno de los núcleo de su teoría. The relation between ideas and images, in their different philosophical formulations since the Enlightenment, is one of the key elements of their definitions both in Epistemology as well as in Aesthetics. This paper concentrates on Hume's theory of abstract ideas, based on his conception of ideas as images. I investigate first the roots of his theory in the works of Berkeley, to analyse further Hume's contention that his theory is completely nominalist. Here the idea of similarity, essential for the definition of a visual image, will show itself as the core of his theory. (shrink)
Many believe that George Berkeley and, subsequently, David Hume offer devastating arguments against John Locke's theory of abstract ideas. It is the purpose of this paper to clarify the attacks given a close reading of Locke. It will be shown that many of the arguments of Berkeley and Hume are of a straw man nature and, moreover, that some of their conclusions are actually in accord with Locke.
Hume propounds the aporetic principle of correspondence betwen impres-sions and ideas, in order to solve the problem of the genesis of the ideas. This principle, which lacks universal validity, reduces the idea to image and deprives it of universality. In this way is postulated a rigorous and uni-versal nominalism, which converts the ideas into non referential unities the same as the Urimpressions (Husserl) and sets aside the possibility of metaphysics.
El presente trabajo investiga las tesis sobre el poder civil de Alonso de la Veracruz que buscan incorporar en la comunidad política española a los habitantes autóctonos del Nuevo Mundo, tesis que suelen relacionarse con F. de Vitoria y el tomismo español, y que últimamente son consideradas parte del republicanismo novohispano elaborado desde la periferia americana. Se busca demostrar que su propósito era aplicar una teoría de derechos naturales, sin que ello implique participación política de los indios americanos. Se analiza (...) la postura del fraile frente a la diversidad cultural y la guerra contra los indios. The paper explores Alonso de la Veracruz's theses on civil power, which sought to integrate the native inhabitants of the New World into the Spanish political community. These theses, which have usually been associated with F. de Vitoria and Spanish Thomism, have recently come to be considered part of a Novohispanic republicanism developed in the American periphery. The article seeks to show that the purpose of such theses was to apply a theory of natural rights that did not entail the political participation of the indigenous population, as well as to analyze Veracruz's position regarding cultural diversity and the war against the indigenous peoples. (shrink)
On its face, Hume's account of mental representation involves at least two elements. On the one hand, Hume often seems to write as though the representational properties of an idea are fixed solely by what it is a copy or image of. But, on the other, Hume's treatment of abstract ideas makes it clear that the representational properties of a Humean idea sometimes depend, not just on what it is copied from, but also on the manner in which the mind (...) associates it with other ideas. Past interpretations of Hume have tended to focus on one of these elements of his account to the neglect of the other. But no interpretation of this sort is likely to capture the role that both copying and association play within Hume's discussion. In what follows, I argue that the most plausible way of understanding Hume's discussion involves attributing to him a unified account of mental representation in which both of these elements play a central role. I close by discussing the manner in which reading Hume in this way would alter our understanding of the relationship between Hume's thought and contemporary philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Philosophers have often claimed that general ideas or representations have their origin in abstraction, but it remains unclear exactly what abstraction as a psychological process consists in. We argue that the Lockean aspiration of using abstraction to explain the origins of all general representations cannot work and that at least some general representations have to be innate. We then offer an explicit framework for understanding abstraction, one that treats abstraction as a computational process that operates over an innate quality space (...) of fine-grained general representations. We argue that this framework has important philosophical implications for the nativism-empiricism dispute, for questions about the acquisition of unstructured representations, and for questions about the relation between human and animal minds. (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that the Humean male and Humean female of Hume’s Treatise would have different mental lives due to a great extent to what Hume takes to be the socio-culture in place. Specifically, I show that the Humean male would be incapable but the Humean female would be capable of forming a Humean sex-neutral general idea of man. The Humean male’s inability is not innate but the result of the trauma he experiences when discovering sexuality, reproduction and (...) realizing how insecure a claim of paternity is. The Humean female not having such a traumatic experience is not impaired in the same way. Insofar as she is impaired, it is because in the very same socio-culture she cannot exercise her ability because it would endanger the socio-culture she is expected to partake in. (shrink)
The premise of functional meaning is to the effect that the appropriate use of words--the employment of words in accordance with the standard usage--discloses their meaning. In its extreme or radical version the premise is a downright identification of a meaning with an act, or acts, of using words, i.e., with actual occurrences. Since actual occurrences are particulars, this extreme form would appeal to a nominalist who wants to eschew universals, especially in a concern with meaning. But the radical premise (...) is incompatible with the second premise of a dispositional semantics. For the second premise is intended to do justice to the fact that the same word may take care of endless variations of its meaning or, at any rate, of a number which is not limited to particular variations that occur with the act, or acts, of using the word. Accordingly, a dispositional semantics requires a moderate version of the premise of functional meaning. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Hume Studies Volume XXVI, Number 2, November 2000, pp. 279-289 Explaining General Ideas JANET BROUGHTON Hume declared himself a scientist of man; his aim was to identify the principles according to which our impressions give rise to our thoughts, beliefs, passions and actions. He took it that there are things about these products of experience that need to be explained, and as a scientist of man he aimed to (...) provide the needed explanation by finding principles that govern the operations of the mind. In what follows I want to consider Hume's account of general ideas, and I want especially to raise the question what it is about them that he wants to explain. In order to see what Hume thinks he should explain about our general ideas, we need first to see what sort of explanatory resources he thinks are available. In the introduction to the Treatise, he proposes to undertake a study of human nature, a study of the particular kind that he calls science of man. He is going to study the human mind using "careful and exact experiments"1 gleaned up from a "cautious observation of human life" as it appears in the "common course of the world" (T xix). The outcome will be the discovery of "principles," and Hume aims to render them "as universal as possible," "explaining all effects from the simplest and fewest causes" (T xvii). By itself this sounds awfully bland. How does it differ from the generalizations any of us might make about human mental life? On one common understanding of Hume, the answer is that he is studying objects we don't ordinarily talk about, using a method of observation we don't ordinarily use. He is studying what Locke called "ideas": the items of which a person is immeJanet Broughton is Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-2390, USA. e-mail: [email protected] 280 Janet Broughton diately aware, and which depend on that awareness for their existence. He is studying them by using his power of introspection, the power by which a person may become immediately aware of his own ideas. I have argued elsewhere2 that Hume's term, 'perception,' isn't meant to refer to Lockean ideas but to people's states of mind as we ordinarily understand them: dateable episodes of consciousness of a great many types, including episodes of seeing, touching, smelling, tasting and hearing objects in the world around us. Nor, I have argued, does Hume's "cautious observation of human life" (T xix) invariably or even usually take the form of introspection. Rather, the scientist of man attends to a range of the features of perceptions that we notice from time to time in ordinary life. What distinguishes the activities of the scientist of man from those of the ordinary observer of human mental life is that the scientist of man attends mainly just to this range of features, and reflects upon them in a sustained and systematic way. The features to which he gives his attention are, I believe, these: force and vivacity; content compounded from simple elements; and the kinds of sequences or patterns in which perceptions with such-and-such content having such-and-such force and vivacity occur. Of these three features, the most puzzling by far, I think, is content; I will be exploring aspects of content as I attempt to identify what it is about general ideas that the scientist of man wants to understand. To put it crudely, we must see what Hume thinks impressions already contain if we want to see what it is about general ideas he wants to explain. In the first part of Book I of the Treatise, Hume sets out the basic distinctions and principles upon which he will draw: the distinctions between impressions and ideas, between simple and complex perceptions, between impressions of sensation and those of reflection, and between ideas of memory and of imagination; and the principles that our simple ideas are derived from resembling simple impressions, and that our ideas are associated via relations of resemblance, contiguity and causation. After clarifying the notion of relations, Hume concludes part i by... (shrink)
A very material question has been started concerning abstract or general ideas, whether they be general or particular in the mind's conception of them. A great philosopher [Dr. Berkeley] has disputed the receiv'd opinion in this particular, and has asserted, that all general ideas are nothing but particular ones, annexed to a certain term, which gives them a more extensive signification, and makes them recall upon occasion other individuals, which are similar to them. As I look upon this to be (...) one of the greatest and most valuable discoveries that has been made of late years in the republic of letters, I shall here endeavour to confirm it by some arguments, which I hope will put it beyond all doubt and controversy. (shrink)
Berkeley and Hume object to Locke's account of abstraction. Abstraction is separating in the mind what cannot be separated in reality. Their objection is that if a is inseparable in reality from b, then the idea of a is inseparable from the idea of b. The former inseparability is the reason for the latter. In most interpretations, however, commentators leave the former unexplained in explaining the latter. This article assumes that Berkeley and Hume present a unified front against Locke. Hume (...) supplements Berkeley's argument just where there are gaps. In particular, Hume makes explicit something Berkeley leaves implicit: The argument against Locke depends on the principle that things are inseparable if and only if they are identical. Abstraction is thinking of one of an inseparable pair while not thinking of the other. But doing so entails thinking of something while not thinking of it. This is the fundamental objection. (shrink)
In Book I, Part I, Section VII of the Treatise, Hume sets out to settle, once and for all, the early modern controversy over abstract ideas. In order to do so, he tries to accomplish two tasks: (1) he attempts to defend an exemplar-based theory of general language and thought, and (2) he sets out to refute the rival abstraction-based account. This paper examines the successes and failures of these two projects. I argue that Hume manages to articulate a plausible (...) theory of general ideas; indeed, a version of his account has defenders in contemporary cognitive science. But Hume fails to refute the abstraction-based account, and as a result, the early modern controversy ends in a stalemate, with both sides able to explain how we manage to speak and think in general terms. Although Hume fails to settle the controversy, he nevertheless advances it to a point from which we have yet to progress: the contemporary debate over abstract ideas in cognitive science has stalled on precisely this point. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Reid’s dilemma concludes that, whether the idea associated with a denied proposition is lively or faint, Hume is committed to saying that it is either believed or merely conceived. In neither case would there be denial. If so, then Hume cannot give an adequate account of denial. I consider and reject Powell’s suggestion that Hume could have advanced a “Content Contrary” account of denial that avoids Reid’s dilemma. However, not only would a Humean Content Contrary account be viciously circular, textual (...) evidence suggests that Hume did not hold such an account. I then argue that Govier’s distinction between force and vivacity cannot help Hume. Not only did Hume fail to recognize this distinction, we can advance a variant of Reid’s dilemma even if we distinguish force from vivacity. (shrink)
Hume’s discussion of space in the Treatise addresses two main topics: divisibility and vacuum. It is widely recognized that his discussion of divisibility contains an answer to Bayle, whose Dictionary article “Zeno of Elea” presents arguments about divisibility as support for fideism. It is not so widely recognized that, elsewhere in the same article, Bayle presents arguments about vacuum as further support for fideism. This paper aims to show that Hume’s discussion of vacuum contains an answer to these vacuum-based fideistic (...) arguments. Key to this answer is a distinction between two ways in which vacuum was conceived in the early modern period: i) as a genuine thing that has spatial properties, and yet is immobile, indivisible, and penetrable ; ii) as a mere absence of spatial things. This paper also aims to provide a novel defense of Hume against the long-standing objection that he is inconsistent in denying that we can conceive of a vacuum, while allowing that we can conceive of “invisible and intangible distance.” As I interpret him, Hume consistently denies that we can conceive of a positive vacuum, while allowing that we can conceive of two or more objects’ being arranged so as to have privative vacuum between them. (shrink)