Category Archives: Hume

Book III: Of Morals – Conclusion

“The interest, on which justice is founded, is the greatest imaginable, and extends to all times and places. It cannot be possibly serv’d by any other invention. It is obvious, and discovers itself on the very first formation of society.”
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Penguin Classics, 1985, p. 669.

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 23-12-2009. I don’t know how good or bad what follows is, but it is for sure a great quote.]

Call it the Roddenberry-principle: you can’t imagine, can’t conceive of, a society that is composed of intelligent individuals in which there is no basic notion of justice & therefore of fairness. So much so that even the biggest bands of thieves have some code of law internal to them and that any changes to current laws are invariably justified – with recourse to some ‘higher’ principle of justice. Continue reading

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Of the influence of belief

“But tho’ education be disclaim’d by philosophy, as a fallacious ground of assent to any opinion, it prevails nevertheless in the world, and is the cause why all systems are apt to be rejected at first as new and unusual.”
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, p. 167, Penguin Books, 1969.

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 13-08-2009. Sounds promising, it’s at any rate actual.]

I do not exist! Or more accurately (and more boringly non-provocative): the ‘I’ does not exist. This claim would come closest to summing up my system, if such a thing as philosophical ‘systems’ would remain after Hume and Kant. As one was tempted to sum up Hume’s system in Hume’s day as “This world does not exist” in preparation of a smug chuckle with which to discard the details of what was said by him; I’m sure one would be tempted to Laugh Out Loud reading how I sum up my thoroughly individualist thought.

Continue reading

Of Qualities Immediately Agreeable to Ourselves

“The tear naturally starts in our eye on the apprehension of a warm sentiment of this nature: our breast heaves, our heart is agitated, and every humane tender principle of our frame is set in motion, and gives us the purest and most satisfactory enjoyment.”, The enquiries concerning human understanding and concerning the principles of morals, D. Hume, Clarendon Press, 1975, p. 257.

I chose this quote six weeks ago and can’t quite remember what I then thought. This is what I (try to) think now: Continue reading

Of liberty and necessity

“If objects had not an uniform and regular connection with each other, we shou’d never arrive at any idea of cause and effect; and even after all, the necessity, which enters into that idea, is nothing but a determination of the mind to pass from one object to its usual attendant, and infer the existence of one from that of the other. Here then are two particulars, which we are to consider as essential to necessity, viz. the constant union and the inference of the mind; and wherever we discover these we must acknowledge a necessity.” D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Penguin Classics, 1985, p.448. 

Too many take Hume to talk mainly, and in a definitive way, about how the world is. Hume himself is confused sometimes, taking psychological subject matter to physical conclusions. This is an annoying fallacy, & more annoying still is a tendency of some who self-advertise as being part of the Humean tradition to promote it to an empirical dogma.

As pointed out by Davidson, there is a difference between our everyday statements of causality and the lofty heights of mathematical physics. To put it more tellingly: there is a difference between ‘if A then B’ and ‘E=mc2’.

This difference is a difference of more consequence than mostly thought. Let us go & explore it, so we can plant the seed of a long needed civil war on ‘minds’. Continue reading