Naturalism, Experience, and Hume’s ‘Science of Human Nature’


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Ben Smith
Wright State University
Abstract
A standard interpretation of Hume’s naturalism is that it paved the way for a scientistic and ‘disenchanted’ conception of the world. My aim in this paper is to show that this is a restrictive reading of Hume, and it obscures a different and profitable interpretation of what Humean naturalism amounts to. The standard interpretation implies that Hume’s ‘science of human nature’ was a reductive investigation into our psychology. But, as Hume explains, the subject matter of this science is not restricted to introspectively accessible mental content and incorporates our social nature and interpersonal experience. Illuminating the science of human nature has implications for how we understand what Hume means by ‘experience’ and thus how we understand the context of his epistemological investigations. I examine these in turn and argue overall that Hume’s naturalism and his science of man do not simply anticipate a disenchanted conception of the world.
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2016.1176389
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References found in this work BETA

Phenomenology of Perception.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1962 - Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: The Humanities Press.
Mind and World.Huw Price & John McDowell - 1994 - Philosophical Books 38 (3):169-181.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Mind and World.John Mcdowell - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (182):99-109.

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