Notes on Introduction to Philosophy -- Phil A201

William Jamison - Instructor

Lecture 8

Eighth lecture notes for Introduction to Philosophy:

Slide 1:

David Hume - 1711-1776

Slide one

Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell dead-born from the press...

perceptions (following Locke)

lively - impressions

less lively - ideas

all ideas are derived from impressions

Idea of God is merely extrapolation

Explanation: Hume seems to present the logical end result of the empiricistís position. It is in his writings that we can see how a conception of knowledge based on sense perceptions leads to the skeptics position.

Slide 2:

Custom and Habits of the Mind

Association of Ideas


contiguity in time or place

cause and effect

Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact

1st intuitive or demonstrably certain

2nd founded on cause and effect

comes only from experience

Explanation: this argument shows that cause and effect do not have a logically necessary connection. It what sense is there a necessary connection between events contiguous in time and space?

Slide 3:

Cause and effect

The mind has never anything present to it but the perceptions, and cannot possible reach any experience of their connection with objects.

Reason is as much a matter of habit as emotion

There is no synthetic a priori

Metaphysics is impossible

Philosophical skepticism is result

Explanation: this appears to be a winning argument!

Slide 4:

Personal Identity

We refer to ourselves according to habits and customs

there is no "I" that we can experience

we can not have an objective experience of the subject of our experience

practical living is not under question

only philosophical metaphysics is shown to be untenable and useless

therefore: give up metaphysics

Explanation: this also appears to be a winning argument! How do we account for our sense of an enduring self?

Slide 5:

Hume on Religion

conservative side - Cleanthes offers a posteriori arguments for God's existence, particularly the design argument:

Machines are produced by intelligent design

Universe resembles a machine

Therefore, the universe was produced by intelligent design

Explanation: these arguments appear to successfully defeat the Cosmological and Teleological arguments for the existence of God.

Slide 6:

Hume on Religion

Demea: a priori arguments (Leibniz)

The world contains an infinite sequence of contingent facts;

The explanation of this whole series cannot reside in the series itself;

Therefore, there is a necessary substance which produced this infinite series, and which is the complete explanation of its own existence as well.

Slide 7:

Hume on Religion

Philo - skeptic against both:

design argument - faulty analogy: we don't know whether the order in nature was the result of design since we did not witness the formation of the world.

cosmological argument - a sufficient explanation for each particular fact in the infinite sequence of facts leaves no need to inquire about the origin of the collection of these facts.

Next lecture

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