About this topic
Summary

Hume approaches topics in metaphysics and epistemology via his theory of ideas and the cognitive faculties. In metaphysics, his primary interest is in questions not of the form ‘What is X?’ but of the form ‘What can we conceive X to be?’ His best-known contribution is his argument that causation, as far as we can conceive it, is just regular succession among objects or events, plus our habit of inferring one object or event from another. He also made important contributions concerning space and time, existence, identity, substances, and free will. In epistemology, his primary interest is in questions of the form ‘Which of our cognitive faculties is responsible for our belief in X?’ His best-known contribution is his argument that habit, not reason, engages us to suppose that unobserved events will resemble observed ones (a view concerning what philosophers now call induction). He also made important contributions concerning the distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori, belief in the external world, and religious belief.

Key works

Books that discuss Hume's views about a range of topics in metaphysics and epistemology (construed broadly, so as to include philosophy of mind, action and language) include Stroud 1977Garrett 1997 and Allison 2008Fogelin 1985 and Loeb 2002 are devoted to his epistemology. For three different approaches to his theory of causation, see Blackburn 1990, Kail 2007 and Millican 2009. For two different approaches to his argument about induction, see Owen 1999 and Peter Millican's article 'Hume's Sceptical Doubts Concerning Induction,' in Millican 2001.

Introductions

Three introductory books that take quite different approaches to Hume's metaphysics and epistemology are Ayer 1980Blackburn 2008 and Wright 2009Norton & Taylor 2008 contains helpful introductory articles on Hume's views about several topics in metaphysics and epistemology.

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  1. Does Reid Have Anything to Say to Hume?Terence Cuneo - 2015 - In Todd Buras & Rebecca Copenhaver (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge and Value. Oxford University Press.
    Advocates of the so-called New Hume maintain that, contrary to the traditional interpretation, Hume is neither a non-cognitivist nor a moral skeptic. Rather, if these philosophers are correct, Hume is a sentimentalist who defends views very similar to Hutcheson’s. Reid’s attack on Hume’s moral philosophy, however, depends on an interpretation according to which Hume is a non-cognitivist and a moral skeptic. Does this mean that, if advocates of the New Hume are correct, Reid’s objections to Hume entirely fail to make (...)
  2. Hume's Dual Criteria for Memory.Maité Cruz - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    In his brief treatment of memory, Hume characterizes memory using two kinds of criteria: ideas’ phenomenal character and their correspondence to the past experiences from which they derived. These criteria have seemed so perplexing to interpreters, both individually and jointly, that Hume’s account of memory is commonly considered one of the weakest parts of his philosophical system. This paper defends Hume’s criteria by showing that they achieve two theoretical aims: a scientific classification of ideas and a definition of ‘memory.’ In (...)
  3. David Hume y la distinción entre filosofía especulativa y experimental.Sofía Beatriz Calvente - 2018 - Dianoia 63 (81):109-131.
    Resumen: Ante las críticas insistentes a la distinción entre el empirismo y el racionalismo, se han propuesto alternativas para comprender de manera más adecuada el quehacer de los filósofos modernos. Entre ellas está la distinción entre filosofía especulativa y experimental. Intentaré evaluar la validez de esta distinción para la filosofía moral experimental del siglo XVIII y, en particular, para la propuesta de Hume. Mostraré que si la distinción se entiende en términos excluyentes, resulta inapropiada porque el mismo Hume plantea que (...)
  4. Ideas, Evidence, and Method: Hume's Skepticism and Naturalism Concerning Knowledge and Causation, by Graciela De Pierris: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, Pp. Xv + 318, £47.50. [REVIEW]Anik Waldow - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):609-612.
  5. Hume's True Scepticism, by Donald Ainslie: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, Pp. Xiv + 286, £40. [REVIEW]Karl Schafer - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):600-603.
  6. Hume’s Two Causalities and Social Policy: Moon Rocks, Transfactuality, and the UK’s Policy on School Absenteeism.Leigh Price - 2014 - Journal of Critical Realism 13 (4):385-398.
    Hume maintained that, philosophically speaking, there is no difference between exiting a room out of the first-floor window and using the door. Nevertheless, Hume’s reason and common sense prevailed over his scepticism and he advocated that we should always use the door. However, we are currently living in a world that is more seriously committed to the Humean philosophy of empiricism than he was himself and thus the potential to act inappropriately is an ever-present potential. In this paper, I explore (...)
  7. Philosophy Without God? God Without Philosophy?: Critical Reflections on Antony Flew's God and Philosophy 1.Brayton Polka - 2006 - The European Legacy 11 (1):35-46.
    In this paper it is argued that, while the case that Antony Flew makes against philosophically invalid arguments for the existence of God is generally sound, he fails to comprehend the power and cogency of the ontological argument. Thus, his conception of the grounds of morality, separate from the biblical tradition of theology, is by no means compelling. This paper aims to show that the rational concept of morality that Flew rightly claims to uphold is not only consistent with but (...)
  8. The Everlasting Check: Hume on Miracles, by Alexander George: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016, Pp. Xiii + 98, US$24.95. [REVIEW]Wade Robison - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):834-835.
  9. David Hume, Sceptic.Zuzana Parusniková - 2016 - Springer Verlag.
  10. In Defense of Newtonian Induction: Hume’s Problem of Induction and the Universalization of Primary Qualities.Ori Belkind - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (1):14.
    This paper aims to advance two claims. First, it aims to show that Hume's argument against the rationality of induction is sound. However, I claim that the conclusion does not follow merely from the self-defeating attempts to justify the rule of induction, unlike traditional readings of the argument. Rather, the skeptical conclusion must also take into account Hume's argument that the secret powers that are present in bodies and give rise to sensible qualities are unknowable. The paper's second aim is (...)
  11. Hume on the Laws of Dynamics: The Tacit Assumption of Mechanism.Matias Kimi Slavov - 2016 - Hume Studies 42 (1-2):113-136.
    I shall argue that when Hume refers to the laws of dynamics, he tacitly assumes a mechanism. Nevertheless, he remains agnostic on whether the hidden micro-constitution of bodies is machinelike. Hence this article comes to the following conclusion. Hume is not a full-blown mechanical philosopher. Still his position on dynamic laws and his concept of causation instantiate a tacitly mechanical understanding of the interactions of bodies.
  12. Una Vez Más En la Brecha: La Respuesta de Kant a Hume, Para Variar. Lewis White Beck.David Rojas Lizama - 2015 - Alpha (Osorno) 40:217-221.
  13. David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism.Tamas Demeter - 2016 - Brill.
  14. David Hume e o “curioso ajuste das causas finais”.Fernão de Oliveira Salles - 2014 - Discurso 43:51-76.
  15. Um Comentário Sobre “as Regras Para Se Julgar Sobre Causas E Feitos” de David Hume.Mark Julian Richter Cass - 2014 - Discurso 44:127-144.
  16. Hume’Un Dış Dünyanın Varlığına İlişkin Tartışmadaki Niyeti.Nurten Öztanrikulu Özel - 2017 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 7 (2):123-143.
    Dış dünyanın varlığı konusu felsefe tarihinde çoğu zaman epistemolojik bir sorgulamanın içinde yer almaktadır. Pek çok filozof dış dünyanın varlığının bilinip bilinemeyeceği ya da nasıl bilineceği sorularıyla meşgul olmuştur. Bu filozoflardan biri de David Hume’dur. Hume dış dünyanın varlığına ilişkin tasarımlarımızı inancın konusu olarak ele almaktadır. Dış nesnenin algılanmadığında bile devamlı ve ayrı var olduğu inancını sorgulamaktadır. Bu çalışmada dış dünyanın varlığının algıdan bağımsız ve ayrı bir şekilde var olduğu inancının nasıl türetildiği; bunun türetilmesinde hangi yetimizin etkin olduğu araştırılacak ve (...)
  17. David Hume’un Siyaset Felsefesinin Epistemolojik ve Etik İçerimleri.Mehmet Türkan & Zehragül Aşkın - 2013 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):25-51.
    Siyaset felsefesinde David Hume, adaletin kökenine ilişkin tartışmalarda rasyonalist ve sözleşmeci yaklaşımlara karşı güçlü bir empirist karşı çıkışı ifade eder. Nitekim adaletin apriori ve ussal bir temeli olduğu argümanına karşıt bir yaklaşımla, düşüncelerini tarihsel-şüpheci bir çizgiye oturtan Hume’un adaletin kökenine ilişkin açıklamaları 20. yüzyılda Hayek ve Nozik’te yeniden yaşam bulmuştur. Bu bağlamda makale Hume’un adalet kuramının etik içerimini konu edinmektedir.
  18. The ‘First Cause’ in Hume’s Philosophy.Mustafa Çevik - 2013 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):151-157.
    Özet: Hume çalışmalarında iki türlü ‘neden‘ kabul etmektedir. Bunlardan biri tek tek varlıkların nedenleridir. Diğeri de evrenin her yerinden çıkarabileceğimiz bir nedendir. Yaygın olarak bilindiği gibi nedensellik kuramına dair düşüncelerini ilk iki eseri olan Treatise of Human Nature ve Enquiry Concarning Human Understanding isimli çalışmasında şekillendirir. Fakat daha sonraki iki temel çalışması olan Natural History of religion ve Dialogues Concernin Natural Religion kitaplarında Hume evrenin nedeni hakkında tartışmalara yer verir. Bu çalışmada Hume’un bu ikinci tür ‘neden’ini bir tür ‘ilk neden’ (...)
  19. David Hume’da Mucize ve Nedensellik.Mustafa Çevik - 2012 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):1-16.
    Bu yazıda kimi felsefi ve dini metinlerde yer alan mucize tanımının içerdiği sorunlar tartışılmaktadır. Tanımlamalar konusunda daha çok David Hume ve İslami kaynaklardan yararlanılmıştır. Mucizenin doğurduğu felsefi problemler iki başlık altında ele alınmıştır. Bunlardan birincisi tarihsel bir olay olarak mucizenin imkânı, diğeri ise “doğa yasası” olarak mucizenin imkânıdır. Burada özellikle “yasa” ve “yasanın ihlali” terimleri üzerinde durulmuştur.
  20. 7. The Second-Order Idealism of David Hume.William Boos - 2018 - In Metamathematics and the Philosophical Tradition. De Gruyter. pp. 233-305.
  21. “Till at Last There Remain Nothing” Hume’s Treatise 1.4.1 in Contemporary Perspective.Jeanne Peijnenburg & David Atkinson - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume presents an argument according to which all knowledge reduces to probability, and all probability reduces to nothing. Many have criticized this argument, while others find nothing wrong with it. In this paper we explain that the argument is invalid as it stands, but for different reasons than have been hitherto acknowledged. Once the argument is repaired, it becomes clear that there is indeed something that reduces to nothing, but it is something other (...)
  22. Narratividade Histórica E Natureza Humana Em Hume.Fabiano Lemos - 2014 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 59 (3):523-549.
    O artigo pretende discutir o estatuto da narratividade na obra de Hume, não apenas como metodologia, mas como o único meio através do qual a natureza humana ela mesma pode ser abordada no interior de seu projeto de uma ciência do homem. Em uma perspectiva exclusivamente empírica, a história se revela como o nível de composição de narrações – tanto no estudo dos costumes quanto ao lidar com a formação das relações de ideias. A leitura de muitos comentadores de Hume, (...)
  23. Till at Last There Remain Nothing.David Atkinson & Jeanne Peijnenburg - forthcoming - Synthese.
    In A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume presents an argument according to which all knowledge reduces to probability, and all probability reduces to nothing. Many have criticized this argument, while others find nothing wrong with it. In this paper we explain that the argument is invalid as it stands, but for different reasons than have been hitherto acknowledged. Once the argument is repaired, it becomes clear that there is indeed something that reduces to nothing, but it is something other (...)
  24. Inferences, External Objects, and the Principle of Contradiction: Hume's Adequacy Principle in Part II of the Treatise.Wilson Underkuffler - 2016 - Florida Philosophical Review 16 (1):23-40.
    This paper considers whether elements of T 1.2 Of the Ideas of Space and Time in Hume’s Treatise is inconsistent with skepticism regarding the external world in T 1.4.2 Of Scepticism with regard to the Senses. This apparent tension vexes commentators, and efforts to resolve it drives the recent scholarship on this section of Hume’s Treatise. To highlight this tension I juxtapose Hume’s “Adequacy Principle” with what I call his “skeptical causal argument” in T 1.4.2. The Adequacy Principle appears to (...)
  25. Hume on the Doctrine of Infinite Divisibility: A Matter of Clarity and Absurdity.Wilson H. Underkuffler - 2018 - Dissertation, University of South Florida
    I provide an interpretation of Hume’s argument in Treatise 1.2 Of the Ideas of Space and Time that finite extensions are only finitely divisible. My most general claim is that Hume intends his Finite Divisibility Argument to be a demonstration in the Early Modern sense as involving the comparison and linking of ideas based upon their intrinsic contents. It is a demonstration of relations among ideas, meant to reveal the meaningfulness or absurdity of a given supposition, and to distinguish possible (...)
  26. Understanding Rationality in Hobbes and Hume.Hun Chung - 2014 - Filozofia 69 (8):687-696.
    Many commentators think that Hobbes was committed to an instrumental view of rationality which foreshadows that of David Hume. The Humean conception of instrumental rationality is a conjunction of the following two claims: (a) no preferences or desires can properly be said to be irrational in themselves, and (b) the role of reason or rationality can only be confined to informing the agent with true beliefs about the world, and revealing the most effective means that could satisfy the agent’s current (...)
  27. Hume y la Metafísica: Entre El Positivismo Lógico y la Filosofía Crítica de Kant / Hume and Metaphysics: Between Logical Positivism and Kant's Critical Philosophy.Ana María Andaluz Romanillos - 2016 - Cauriensia 11:349-382.
    El objetivo de este artículo es precisar la posición de Hume ante la metafísica y su significado para la misma. Para ello, considera la crítica de Hume desde el Positivismo lógico y desde la filosofía crítica de Kant. A pesar de la afinidad con el neopositivismo en aspectos importantes, el proyecto de Hume no encaja del todo con el intento neopositivista de una superación de la teoría del conocimiento y de una eliminación de la idea de la filosofía como fundamentación (...)
  28. The Demad for a New Concept of Anthropology in the Early Modern Age: The Doctrine of Hume.A. M. Malivskiy - 2016 - Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research 10:121-130.
    Purpose. The purpose of the investigation is to outline the main points of Hume’s interpretation of the basic anthropological project of the era based on radical cultural transformations of the early modern age; to represent a modern vision of Hume's anthropology as a response to the demand of the era and necessity to complete its basic project. Methodology. The research was based on phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches. Originality. Contemporary understanding of the position of anthropological project in Hume's philosophy is regarded (...)
  29. Teaching & Learning Guide For: Hume on Mental Representation and Intentionality.Jonathan Cottrell - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (8):e12520.
  30. Hume on Thick and Thin Causation.Alexander Bozzo - 2018 - Dissertation, Marquette University
    Hume is known for his claim that our idea of causation is nothing beyond constant conjunction, and that our idea of necessary connection is nothing beyond a felt determination of the mind. In short, Hume endorses a "thin" conception of causation and necessary connection. In recent years, however, a sizeable number of philosophers have come to view Hume as someone who believes in the existence of thick causal connections - that is, causal connections that allow one to infer a priori (...)
  31. Causal Inference and Proofs of Theism in Hume’s Philosophy of Religion.Mohmmad Fatali Khāni - 2005 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 7 (26):87-118.
    Using probability calculus, David Hume attempts to judge religious beliefs properly. He, in using this calculus, relies on especial views about causation and causal inference. For him, specific causal relationships between phenomena appear to us through frequent observation of the succession or coexistence of certain phenomena. The result of this observation is a natural, unavoidable association between those phenomena. All associations of this sort are not of the same force and intensity; they are forceful if the observations occur incessantly and (...)
  32. Against Coady on Hume on Testimony.Tomas Hribek - 1996 - Acta Analytica 11 (16-17):189-200.
    The paper critically examines C.A.J. Coady's analysis of testimony, concentrating on his interpretation of the views of David Hume. The author tries to show that not only is Coady's interpretation of Hume inadequate, but that Hume's conception of testimony is in fact superior to that of Coady. Coady sees Hume as the originator of the individualistic, first-person, view of testimony, according to which the reports of other people must be confirmed on the basis of an individualistically interpreted perception. Coady argues (...)
  33. Empirismus, naturalismus a ideje.Tomas Hribek - 2017 - Filosoficky Casopis 2 (65):297-315.
    [Empiricism, Naturalism, and Ideas] The author analyses the modern reception of key themes in Hume’s philosophy during the past century. The first part presents Hume’s version of three such themes – empi­ricism, naturalism and the theory of ideas. The following three parts give an exposition of modern forms of each of these themes, with the choice of modern reception being directed to those contemporary authors who not only developed Hume’s motifs in the most original way, but who also explicitly traced (...)
  34. Hume on Mental Representation and Intentionality.Jonathan David Cottrell - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (7):e12505.
  35. David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.John Donaldson & Ian Jackson - 2017 - In Macat Library. Routledge.
    An introduction for the general reader to David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
  36. David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism: Methodology and Ideology in Enlightenment Inquiry. [REVIEW]Alessio Vaccari - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (1):221-224.
  37. Hume, David: Causation.C. M. Lorkowski - 2011 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  38. Hume's Science of Human Nature: Scientific Realism, Reason, and Substantial Explanation.David Landy - 2017 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    Hume’s Science of Human Nature is an investigation of the philosophical commitments underlying Hume's methodology in pursuing what he calls ‘the science of human nature’. It argues that Hume understands scientific explanation as aiming at explaining the inductively-established universal regularities discovered in experience via an appeal to the nature of the substance underlying manifest phenomena. For years, scholars have taken Hume to employ a deliberately shallow and demonstrably untenable notion of scientific explanation. By contrast, Hume’s Science of Human Nature sets (...)
  39. Precis of Cognition and Commitment in Hume's PhilosophyCognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy.Don Garrett - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):185.
  40. Kant's Response to Hume in the Second Analogy: A Critique of Buchdahl's and Friedman's Accounts.Saniye Vatansever - 2018 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 8 (2):310–346.
    This paper presents a critical analysis of two influential readings of the Second Analogy, namely Gerd Buchdahl’s modest reading and Michael Friedman’s strong reading. After pointing out the textual and philosophical problems with each, I advance an alternative reading of the Second Analogy argument. On my reading, the Second Analogy argument proves the existence of necessary and strictly universal causal laws. This, however, does not guarantee that Kant has a solution for the problem of induction. After I explain why the (...)
  41. Die Bedeutung der „Schattenphilosophie“ für die „Philosophie der deutschen Schule“. Über Johann Georg Sulzers Auseinandersetzung mit David Hume.Heiner F. Klemme - 2018 - In Jana Kittelmann, Philipp Kampa & Elisabeth Décultot (eds.), Johann Georg Sulzer - Aufklärung Im Umbruch. De Gruyter. pp. 92-99.
  42. J.J. White, A Humean Critique of David Hume’s Theory of Knowledge. [REVIEW]J. A. Mercado - 2000 - Acta Philosophica 9 (2).
  43. David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism: Methodology and Ideology in Enlightenment Inquiry.James A. Harris - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):419-421.
    David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism: Methodology and Ideology in Enlightenment Inquiry. By Demeter Tamás.
  44. Recent Scholarship on Hume's Theory of Mental Representation.David Landy - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):333-347.
    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 (...)
  45. Conceiving Existence: On Hume’s Argument Against the Distinctness of the Idea of Existence.Asher Jiang - 2018 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (2):297-316.
    There are two questions concerning Hume’s doctrine of existence which have not yet found any persuasive answer: What is his argument in favour of the thesis that there is no distinct idea of existence? What are the semantic and metaphysical consequences of this thesis within his philosophical framework? This paper mainly aims to answer question. In order to do that, I will first explain why some reconstructions suggested by interpreters such as Cummins and Bricke are problematic. One of them relies (...)
  46. La ciencia de la naturaleza humana y la detrascendentalización de la fenomenología.Ángela Calvo de Saavedra - 2013 - Universitas Philosophica 30 (61).
    Este artículo revisa el diálogo que Husserl establece con Humemientras reconstruye la génesis de la filosofía. Lo discutiréen dos partes: la primera se refiere a la “verdadera filosofía”y, la segunda, desarrolla una lectura fenomenológica delmétodo experimental de Hume. Intento explicar la evaluaciónambivalente que hace Husserl del proyecto de Hume, yproponer una manera en la que Hume pueda responder a suscríticas. Concluyo, más allá de Husserl, que Hume abrió uncamino promisorio para la fenomenología, que yo llamo una“fenomenología detrascendentalizada”.
  47. Hume at La Flèche: Skepticism and the French Connection.Dario Perinetti - 2018 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 56 (1):45-74.
    In "My Own Life," Hume writes:1 During my retreat in France, first at Reims, but chiefly at La Fleche, in Anjou, I composed my Treatise of Human Nature. After passing three years very agreeably in that country, I came over to London in 1737. In the end of 1738, I published my Treatise, and immediately went down to my mother and my brother, who lived at his country house, and was employing himself very judiciously and successfully in the improvement of (...)
  48. David Landy, Kant’s Inferentialism: The Case Against Hume New York and London: Routledge: 2015 Pp. 308 ISBN 9781138913080 $148.00. [REVIEW]Thomas Vinci - 2017 - Kantian Review 22 (2):331-338.
  49. The Demand for a New Concept of Anthropology in the Early Modern Age: The Doctrine of Hume.A. M. Malivskyi - 2016 - Antropologìčnì Vimìri Fìlosofsʹkih Doslìdžen' 10:121-130.
    Purpose. The purpose of the investigation is to outline the main points of Hume’s interpretation of the basic anthropological project of the era based on radical cultural transformations of the early modern age; to represent a modern vision of Hume's anthropology as a response to the demand of the era and necessity to complete its basic project. Methodology. The research was based on phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches. Originality. Contemporary understanding of the position of anthropological project in Hume's philosophy is regarded (...)
  50. Identidad personal y “ciencia del hombre” en el Tratado de la naturaleza humana de Hume. Una problematización.Marcia Gonzales LLanos - 2017 - Estudios de Filosofía: Revista del Seminaro de Filosofia del instituto Riva-Aguero 15:11-32.
    The present study aims to point out a possible inconsistency between David Hume’s account of the personal identity problem and the methodology of the philosophical project he sketches in A Treatise of Human Nature, and also to assess Nelson Pike’s defense of the Hume’s position, which is considered by many to have dissolved the problem. It will be argued that this solution turns out to be insufficient since it does not solve the explanatory gap left by the inconsistency. In order (...)
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