Just Imagining Things: Hume's Conception-Based Account of Cognition

Dissertation, University of Southern California (2011)
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Abstract

Philosophers have routinely taken a pessimistic view of the account of cognition offered by David Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, claiming that Hume's limited explanatory resources cannot capture the rich complexity of our thought, judgment, and reasoning. I provide a qualified defense of Hume's attempt to analyze a cognitive activity in terms of objectual conception, ie conceiving or imagining an object. I defend Hume from objections offered by his contemporary Thomas Reid (and echoed by various recent Hume scholars), presenting an interpretation of the account that resolves these worries.

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Lewis Powell
State University of New York, Buffalo

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