Authors
Sarah Patterson
Birkbeck College
Abstract
Descartes is well known for his employment of the method of doubt. His most famous work, the Meditations, begins by exhorting us to doubt all our opinions, including our belief in the existence of the external world. But critics have charged that this universal doubt is impossible for us to achieve because it runs counter to human nature. If this is so, Descartes must be either misguided or hypocritical in proposing it. Hume writes:There is a species of scepticism, antecedent to all study and philosophy, which is much inculcated by Des Cartes and others, as a sovereign preservative against error and precipitate judgement. It recommends an universal doubt, not only of all our former opinions and principles, but also of our very faculties… The Cartesian doubt, …were it ever possible to be attained by any human creature would be entirely incurable; and no reasoning could ever bring us to a state of assurance and conviction upon any subject.
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246112000100
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A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.David Hume - 1955 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press. pp. 112.

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