Dissertation, University of Sydney (2018)

Authors
Dominic K. Dimech
University of Sydney
Abstract
This thesis investigates Hume’s philosophy of external existence in relation to, and within the context of, his philosophy of scepticism. In his two main works on metaphysics – A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40) and the first Enquiry (first ed. 1748) – Hume encounters a predicament pertaining to the unreflective, ‘vulgar’ attribution of external existence to mental perceptions and the ‘philosophical’ distinction between perceptions and objects. I argue that we should understand this predicament as follows: the vulgar opinion is our natural and default belief for Hume, but causal reasoning reveals it to be false, and the philosophical alternative is a confabulation that we cannot permanently believe and is devoid of justification. Hume uses the fact that we cannot have a satisfactory account of belief in external existence as a sceptical consideration to motivate his wider philosophical scepticism. Hume’s response to his predicament about external existence is found in the context of his confrontation with other sceptical worries (Treatise 1.4.7 and Enquiry 12), in which Hume also reflects generally on the nature and implications of scepticism. I argue that we should characterise Hume’s position as residually sceptical. This means that, while Hume accepts the unanswerability of some sceptical problems, he denies that it is possible to eradicate all belief as a result (and denies that it is practically useful to even try) and instead uses sceptical problems as a motivation to adopt a moderately sceptical position. While we inevitably return to entertaining the vulgar belief, there is no solution to the sceptical predicament; Hume does not endorse the vulgar belief, or the philosophical system, or indeed any alternative system of the external world that might extinguish the predicament. Sceptical doubt, for Hume, does not derail intellectual pursuits, but rather modifies our attitudes in those very pursuits.
Keywords Hume  Scepticism  Skepticism  External Objects
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Upload history
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man.Thomas Reid - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Hume.Don Garrett - 2014 - Routledge.
Early Modern Experimental Philosophy.Peter R. Anstey & Alberto Vanzo - 2016 - In Justin Sytsma & Wesley Buckwalter (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Blackwell. pp. 87-102.

View all 118 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Hume Cannot Be A Realist.Jani Hakkarainen - 2012 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 10 (2):143-161.
Hume's True Scepticism.Donald C. Ainslie - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
Hume's Two Views of Modern Scepticism.Dario Castiglione - 2006 - History of European Ideas 32 (1):1-27.
Hume's Changing Views on the 'Durability' of Scepticism.Brian Ribeiro - 2009 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 7 (2):215-236.
Hume's Scepticism and Realism.Jani Hakkarainen - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (2):283-309.
Hume and the External World.Stefanie Rocknak - 2019 - In Alex Sager & Angela Coventry (eds.), The Humean Mind. New York, NY, USA: pp. 124-136.
Hume's Sceptical Materialism.Stephen Buckle - 2007 - Philosophy 82 (4):553-578.
Vulgar Habits and Hume's Double Vision Argument.Annemarie Butler - 2010 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 8 (2):169-187.
Hume's Theory of Consciousness.Wayne Waxman - 1994 - Cambridge University Press.
Waiting for Hume.Peter Lipton - 2005 - In Marina Frasca-Spada & P. J. E. Kail (eds.), Impressions of Hume. Oxford University Press. pp. 59.
How Can a Sceptic Have a Standard of Taste?Susan Hahn - 2013 - British Journal of Aesthetics 53 (4):379-392.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-09-11

Total views
163 ( #53,170 of 2,330,106 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
45 ( #12,873 of 2,330,106 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes