Reid maintained that the perceptions that we obtain from the senses of smell, taste, hearing, and touch are ‘suggested’ by corresponding sensations. However, he made an exception for the sense of vision. According to Reid, our perceptions of the real figure, position, and magnitude of bodies are suggested by their visible appearances, which are not sensations but objects of perception in their own right. These visible appearances have figure, position, and magnitude, as well as ‘colour,’ and the standard view among (...) Reid scholars has been that Reid maintained that our perceptions of visible figure, position, and magnitude are also not suggested by any sensation. They are instead suggested by the material impression on the retina. Gideon Yaffe challenges the standard interpretation. According to Yaffe, Reid believed that our perceptions of visible figure are suggested by corresponding sensations, by sensations of colour. We defend the standard interpretation of Reid. According to Reid, there is no “local sign” in our sensations of colour. The same colour sensation can be associated with different positions on the visual field, and different colour sensations can be associated to the same position on the visual field. According to Reid, we only have evidence for a correlation between the image on the retina and the perception of visible figure. (shrink)
There are good reasons to think that at least a part of Hume's project in the ‘The natural history of religion’ was to buttress a philosophical critique of the reasonableness of religious belief undertaken in other works, and to attack a fundamentalist account of the history of religion and the foundations of morality. But there are also problems with supposing that Hume intended to achieve either of these goals. I argue that two problems in particular – accounting for Hume's neglect (...) of revelation, and accounting for his remarks on the ‘invincibility’ of the reasons for ‘genuine theism’ – can only be resolved by recognizing that Hume's purposes in ‘The natural history’ were not fundamentally critical. If I am right, Hume's purpose was mainly to explain why ‘false’ or ‘adulterate’ forms of religious belief are so widespread and so influential. (shrink)
This paper contrasts three different positions taken by 18th century British scholars on how sensations, particularly sensations of colour and touch, come to be localized in space: Berkeley’s view that we learn to localize ideas of colour by associating certain purely qualitative features of those ideas with ideas of touch and motion, Hume’s view that visual and tangible impressions are originally disposed in space, and Reid’s view that we are innately disposed to refer appearances of colour to the end of (...) a line passing through the centre of the eye and originating from the spot on the back of the retina where the material impression causing that appearance was received. Reid’s reasons for rejecting the Berkeleian and Humean views are examined. It is argued that Reid’s position on visual localization is ultimately driven by his dualistic metaphysical commitments rather than by an empirically grounded investigation of the phenomena of vision. To this extent, his position sits uncomfortably with his own methodological commitments. (shrink)
: I argue that Condillac was committed to four mutually inconsistent propositions: that the mind is unextended, that sensations are modifications of the mind, that colours are sensations, and that colours are extended. I argue that this inconsistency was not just the blunder of a second-rate philosopher, but the consequence of a deep-seated tension in the views of early modern philosophers on the nature of the mind, sensation, and secondary qualities and that more widely studied figures, notably Condillac's contemporaries, Hume (...) and Reid, were not ultimately any more successful at developing an account of vision that unproblematically avoids the paradox. In passing, I take issue with Nicholas Pastore's account of how Condillac's Treatise on Sensations deals with the visual perception of form (in A Selective History of Theories of Visual Perception). (shrink)
This paper considers an objection to the Humean view that perception involves introspective acquaintance with representative images. The objection, originally raised by Thomas Reid and recently endorsed by Nicholas Wolterstorff, states that no representative image can be hard, and concludes that acquaintance with such images cannot therefore account for our perception of hardness. I argue in response that a case has not been made for denying that representative images can be hard. Hardness, as understood by Hume and Reid, is the (...) quality of having parts that resist motion relative to one another. This means that as long as it is allowed that representative images can consist of spatially disposed parts, there can be no a priori reason to deny that they might be hard as well. (shrink)
In section 12 of the Dialogues, Hume claimed, without reference, that Seneca had written that to know God is to worship him. His source has proven hard to find. This note identifies some possibilities and argues in favour of one of them—one that has not been recognized by recent editors of the Dialogues.
"If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human affairs; we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil."In this paper I argue that Hume's thought on comportment between the sexes developed over time.2 In the Treatise, he was interested in explaining why the world seeks to impose artificial virtues of chastity and modesty on women and (...) girls, and how it manages to do this so successfully. But, as time passed, he became increasingly concerned with justice towards women and the role of free interactions between the sexes in facilitating sociability. While his... (shrink)
Reid is well known for rejecting the "philosophy of ideas"--a theory of mental representation that he claimed to find in its most vitriolic form in Hume. But there was another component of Hume's philosophy that exerted an equally powerful influence on Reid: Hume's attack on the notion of spiritual substance in _Treatise 1.4.5. I summarize this neglected aspect of Hume's philosophy and argue that much of Reid's epistemology can be explained as an attempt to buttress dualism against the effects of (...) Hume's critique. (shrink)
Rae Langton's main purpose in Kantian Humility is to uncover the reasons that led Kant to claim that we can have no knowledge of things in themselves. As part of this effort, she articulates and attempts to defend a novel and intriguing position on what things in themselves are for Kant, and what it means for him to deny knowledge of them. Though the presentation of these views is lucid and informed by selective citation from a range of Kant's works, (...) the argument is flawed and the author's treatment of Kant is blinkered. (shrink)
Drawing on work done by Helmholtz, I argue that Reid was in no position to infer that objects appear as if projected on the inner surface of a sphere, or that they have the geometric properties of such projections even though they do not look concave towards the eye. A careful consideration of the phenomena of visual experience, as further illuminated by the practice of visual artists, should have led him to conclude that the sides of visible appearances either look (...) straight, in which case their angles appear to approximate Euclidean measures, or their angles do not appear to approximate Euclidean measures for straight line figures, in which case their sides do not look straight. (shrink)
The central project of the Critique of Pure Reason is to answer two sets of questions: What can we know and how can we know it? and What can't we know and why can't we know it? The essays in this collection are intended to help students read the Critique of Pure Reason with a greater understanding of its central themes and arguments, and with some awareness of important lines of criticism of those themes and arguments.
Hume had two principal arguments for denying that we can have an idea of a vacuum, an argument from the non-entity of unqualified points and an argument from the impossibility of forming abstract ideas of manners of disposition. He also made two serious concessions to the opposed view that we can indeed form ideas of vacua, namely, that bodies that have nothing sensible disposed between them may permit the interposition of other bodies without any apparent motion or occlusion and that (...) it is possible to conceive the contents of a room to be evacuated without being compelled to conceive the walls moving into contact. To reconcile these concessions with his arguments and show why we only “falsely imagine” that we can form the idea of a vacuum, Hume developed a psychological theory of the perception of “invisible and intangible distance” that has something in common with Berkeley’s account of the perception of outward distance. This paper argues that this theory is both untenable and inconsistent with fundamental Humean principles. It explains why Hume should have rejected the two arguments against the idea of a vacuum and why accepting ideas of vacua would have been more in line with the rest of his thought than attempting to deny that we have any such ideas. (shrink)
Over a series of elegantly written, engaging essays, the Enquiry examines the experiential and psychological sources of meaning and knowledge, the foundations of reasoning about matters that lie beyond the scope of our sensory experience and memory, the nature of belief, and the limitations of our knowledge. The positions Hume takes on these topics have been described as paradigmatically empiricist, sceptical, and naturalist and have been widely influential and even more widely decried. The introduction to this edition discusses the Enquiry's (...) origin, evolution, and critical reception, while appendices provide examples of contemporary responses to Hume. (shrink)
Over a series of elegantly written, engaging essays, the _Enquiry_ examines the experiential and psychological sources of meaning and knowledge, the foundations of reasoning about matters that lie beyond the scope of our sensory experience and memory, the nature of belief, and the limitations of our knowledge. The positions Hume takes on these topics have been described as paradigmatically empiricist, sceptical, and naturalist and have been widely influential and even more widely decried. The introduction to this edition discusses the _Enquiry_’s (...) origin, evolution, and critical reception, while appendices provide examples of contemporary responses to Hume. (shrink)
This is the first edition in over a century to present David Hume’s _Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding_, _Dissertation on the Passions_, _Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals_, and _Natural History of Religion_ in the format he intended: collected together in a single volume. Hume has suffered a fate unusual among great philosophers. His principal philosophical work is no longer published in the form in which he intended it to be read. It has been divided into separate parts, only some of (...) which continue to be published. This volume repairs that neglect by presenting the four pieces that Hume in later life desired to "alone be regarded as containing [his] philosophical sentiments and principles" in the format he preferred, as a single volume with an organization that parallels that of his early _Treatise of Human Nature_. This edition’s introduction comments on the historical origins and evolution of the four parts and draws attention to how they mutually inform and support one another. The text is based on the first edition of Hume’s _Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects_. Notes advise the reader of the changes made in the final edition. Excerpts from the work of some of Hume’s most important contemporary critics are included as appendices. Hume’s abundant references to ancient historians, geographers, poets, and philosophers—many of them now quite obscure—are rendered accessible in this volume through extensive textual notes and a bibliography of online sources. (shrink)