David Hume Essay

1007 Words Sep 24th, 1999 5 Pages
David Hume, a Scottish philosopher and historian who lived from 1711-76, carried the empiricism of John Locke and George Berkeley to the logical extreme of radical skepticism. Although his family wanted him to become a lawyer, he felt an "insurmountable resistance to everything but philosophy and learning". Mr. Hume attended Edinburgh University where he studied but did not graduate, and in 1734 he moved to a French town called La Fleche to pursue philosophy. He later returned to Britain and began his literary career. As Hume built up his reputation, he gained more and more political power. He discarded the possibility of certain knowledge, finding in the mind nothing but a series of sensations, and held that cause-and-effect in the …show more content…
Hume grouped perceptions of the mind into one of two categories: impressions and ideas. (Stumpf) Impressions and ideas make up the total content of the mind. Ideas are memories of sensations claimed Hume, but impressions are the cause of the sensation. In other words, an impression is part of a temporary feeling, but an idea is the permanent impact of this feeling. Hume believed that ideas were just dull imitations of impressions. Besides merely distinguishing between impressions there can be no ideas. For if an idea is simply a copy of an impression, it follows that for every idea there must be a prior impression.

Hume's most original and influential ideas deal with the problem of causality. Neither Locke nor Berkeley challenged the basic principle of causality. For Hume, the very idea of causality is suspect, and he approaches the problem by asking the question, "what is the origin of the idea of causality?" Since ideas are copies of impressions, Hume asks what gives us the idea of causality. (Feiser) His answer is that there is no impressions corresponding to this idea. How then does the idea of causality arise in the mind? It must be, Hume said, that their idea of causality arises in the mind when we experience certain relations between objects. This idea states that for all effects there is a cause. Hume said that even though the cause preceded the effect, there is no proof that the

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