Locke’s theory of consciousness is often appropriated as a forerunner of present-day Higher-Order Perception (HOP) theories, but not much is said about it beyond that. We offer an interpretation of Locke’s account of consciousness that portrays it as crucially different from current-day HOP theory, both in detail and in spirit. In this paper, it is argued that there are good historical and philosophical reasons to attribute to Locke the view not that conscious states are accompanied by higher-order perceptions, but rather (...) that conscious states constitute perceptions of themselves. (shrink)
Our goal in this article is first to give a broad outline of some of Hume’s major positions to do with justice, sympathy, the common point of view, criticisms of social contract theory, convention and private property that continue to resonate in contemporary political philosophy. We follow this with an account of Hume’s influence on contemporary philosophy in the conservative, classical liberal, utilitarian, and Rawlsian traditions. We end with some reflections on how contemporary political philosophers would benefit from a more (...) explicit consideration of Hume. (shrink)
This paper has a modest, but important, aim: to gain a better understanding of the relationship between John Locke's and David Hume's theories of causal power in the operations of external objects. The task is important because it focuses on an issue involving these two philosophers astonishingly not much discussed amongst commentators. (edited).
In The Early Modern Subject, Udo Thiel explores early modern writings spanning approximately the seventeenth century to the first half of the eighteenth century on two topics of self consciousness, the human subject’s ‘awareness or consciousness of one’s own self’, and personal identity, the human subject’s tendency to regard one’s own self as the same identical self or person that persists through time (p. 1). The aim of the book is twofold. First, to provide an account of the development of (...) self-consciousness and personal identity covering prominent French, British, and German thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Wolff, and Hume, as well as their critics, their followers, and to ‘critically evaluate their contributions’ (p. 3). The second aim is to situate the contributions of these philosophers within their historical context. In this review I summarize and evaluate The Early Modern Subject. (shrink)
David Hume’s views on topics such as causation, free will, personal identity, scepticism and morals are without doubt all significant contributions to philosophy. However, his account of the origin and nature of our ideas of space and time has never been influential (Rosenberg 1993, 82). In fact, the account of space and time is generally thought to be the least satisfactory part of his empiricist system of philosophy (Kemp Smith, 1941: 287, Noxon 1973, 115 and Flew 1986, 38). The main (...) reason is internal in that the account is judged to be inconsistent with Hume’s fundamental principle for the relationship between senses and cognition, the copy principle. This paper defends Hume against the inconsistency objection by offering a new systematic interpretation of Hume on space and time and illuminating more generally the role of the copy principle in his philosophy. (shrink)
Vivacity, the “liveliness” of perceptions, is central to Hume’s epistemology. Hume equated belief with vivid ideas. Vivacity is a conscious quality so believable ideas are felt to be lively. Hume’s empiricism revolves around a phenomenological, inner epistemology. Through copying, Hume bases vivacity in impressions. Sensory vivacity also concerns liveliness or patterns of change. Through learnt skillful use, it tracks change specific to intentional sense-perceptual experience, Hume’s “coherent and constant” complex impressions. Copying, in turn, communicates the conscious skill of vivacity to (...) ideas where it becomes an indicator of believable ideas. Hume’s copying concerns then the causation of conscious skills required for the identification of empirically warranted structures. Copying allows Hume to combine a radically externalist empiricism with a portable phenomenological inner epistemology. (shrink)
Simon Blackburn’s How to Read Hume, Robert Fogelin’s Hume’s Skeptical Crisis: A Textual Study and John P. Wright’s Hume’s ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’: An Introduction are all clear and highly readable works directed at audiences of students and other non-specialists. Given that all three of the authors are prominent and distinguished Hume scholars, I suspect these works will be of great interest to Hume specialists as well. This piece first summarizes the aims and methods of each book and next, (...) by way of evaluation, compares and contrasts each author’s work on four features that contribute to the general character of an introductory work devoted to Hume’s philosophy. These features include selection of topics .. (shrink)
This paper develops a Humean environmental meta-ethic to apply to the animal world and, given some further considerations, to the rest of nature. Our interpretation extends Hume’s account of sympathy, our natural ability to sympathize with the emotions of others, so that we may sympathize not only with human beings but also animals, plants and ecosystems as well. Further, we suggest that Hume has the resources for an account of environmental value that applies to non-human animals, non-sentient elements of nature (...) as well as nature as whole even without the appeal to sympathy. One consequence of this approach is that the reasons for promoting animal welfare need not be restricted to sentientist reasons. (shrink)
De Pierris offers a reading that unites radical skepticism and normative naturalism as “two equally important and mutually complementary aspects of Hume’s philosophical position”. The “modern theory of ideas” shapes skepticism, and Newtonian methodology is the basis for naturalism.The “modern theory of ideas” holds that evidence for optimal human cognition is grounded in the “immediate acquaintance with ostensive presentations that are or have been given to the mind”. This is the “presentational-phenomenological model of apprehension”. Descartes introduces to the model pure (...) intellectual items, that is, clear and distinct ideas, which have “‘immutable and eternal’ essences or forms” as referents (6... (shrink)
David Hume is a constant, but underappreciated presence in John Rawls’ work. This paper attempts to uncover and explicate the core Humean elements in Rawls’ philosophy and advocates for the merits of a more Humean Rawls. Though Rawls’ familiarity with Hume is well known and his commentators frequently mention the importance of Hume’s circumstances of justice, the depth and range of the Humean influence has not been sufficiently understood. Commentators have been too quick to accept Rawls’ own account of Hume (...) as a largely negative influence superseded by justice as fairness’s formidable alternative to utilitarianism. This is a mistake, as Hume remains a powerful and positive historical influence in Rawls’ political philosophy. Moreover, recognition of Hume’s influence provides cogent ways of responding to some of Rawls’ most prominent critics. Rawls’ early essays and his lectures on the history of moral and political philosophy provide valuable material for understanding how Rawls saw the relation of his own work to that of his predecessors. Through an analysis of Rawls’ texts with emphasis on his early papers and lectures we seek to clarify his understanding of Hume and show how it impacts his work. In what follows, we show Hume’s influence on Rawls’ understanding of the circumstances of justice, the site of justice, the priority of the right, sympathy, the judicious spectator, and his methodology and approach to the problem of stability based on congruence between the good and the right. This illuminates Hume’s influence on contemporary political philosophy and provides a more balanced picture of the historical foundation of Rawls’ political philosophy. We end with some positive remarks on the benefits of embracing Rawls’ Humean side. (shrink)
Why do Humean eyes matter? The subject of David Hume’s eyes and face leads us into some unexpected curiosities connected with events in his life and written works. We outline the scholars’ propensity to describe the face of their favourite philosopher and spread upon it their personal reading of his life and writings. We ask questions about portraits, their resemblance to the original as a standard of beauty. We survey eighteenth-century physiognomy, and the humourous paradox of the “fat philosopher,” both (...) clumsy and refined. We inquire into Hume’s use of physiognomy, his views on corpulence and his own vacant look. We observe the role of Ramsay’s portraits in the 1766 dispute between Rousseau and Hume. We outline the role the eyes play in the body of his written work. We finally recall that the picture which he deemed the “best likeness” has now disappeared. Yet, there remains something still engraved. (shrink)
A key figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume was a major influence on thinkers ranging from Kant and Schopenhauer to Einstein and Popper, and his writings continue to be deeply relevant today. With four essays by leading Hume scholars exploring his complex intellectual legacy, this volume presents an overview of Hume’s moral, political, and social philosophy. Editors Angela Coventry and Andrew Valls bring together a selection of writings from Hume’s most important works, with contributors placing them in their appropriate (...) context and offering a lively discourse on the relevance of Hume’s thought to contemporary subjects like reason’s dependence on emotion and the importance of social convention in political and economic behavior. Perfect for classroom use, this volume is an invaluable companion for anyone studying an important thinker who advanced the development of moral philosophy, economics, cognitive science, and many other fields of the Western tradition. (shrink)
Contrary to intuitions that human beings are free to think and act with “buck-stopping” freedom, philosophers since Holbach and Hume have argued that universal causation makes free will nonsensical. Contemporary neuroscience has strengthened their case and begun to reveal subtle and counterintuitive mechanisms in the processes of conscious agency. Although some fear that determinism undermines moral responsibility, the opposite is true: free will, if it existed, would undermine coherent systems of justice. Moreover, deterministic views of human choice clarify the conditions (...) in which we ought to protect people from themselves, for example when they cannot give informed consent to medical procedures. Some of the most unresolved questions in this domain are just now emerging; they include robot ethics and the responsibilities of groups. We propose a philosophical and scientific research program to apply complex systems science to these problems. (shrink)
The Humean Mind aims to be the most comprehensive anthology available on Hume’s thought with essays spanning the full scope of Hume’s philosophy, as well as placing Hume in his own time and tracing his impact on the field from the 18th century up until today. Our goal is to represent the Humean mind’s place in the philosophical tradition and in contemporary philosophy. It covers all of the major topics on Hume, showcases the latest trends in Hume scholarship, and reflects (...) how current research continues to take inspiration from Hume. (shrink)
The Historical Dictionary of Hume's Philosophy is the only Hume dictionary in existence. The book provides a substantial account of David Hume's life and the times in which he lived, and it provides an overview of his philosophical doctrines. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and over a hundred cross-referenced dictionary entries covering key terms, as well as brief discussions of Hume's major works and of some of his most important predecessors, contemporaries, and successors.