Hume's Ideas on Cause and Effect Essay

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Hume and Cause and Effect
Cause and effect is a tool used to link happenings together and create some sort of explanation. Hume lists the “three principles of connexion among ideas” to show the different ways ideas can be associated with one another (14). The principles are resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect. The focus of much of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding falls upon the third listed principle. In Section I, Hume emphasizes the need to uncover the truths about the human mind, even though the process may be strenuous and fatiguing. While the principle of cause and effect is something utilized so often, Hume claims that what we conclude through this process cannot be attributed to reason or understanding and
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This eliminates any claims of the knowledge of cause and effect being a priori because this is would require previous knowledge drawn from previous experience. For example, no one would imagine that spilling bleach onto a shirt would permanently alter the shirt unless they knew a priori the effects and properties of bleach. Looking at an object a priori makes drawing any sort of conclusion implausible since we have nothing to connect the object to. Our use of cause and effect is supported by our past experiences and knowledge drawn from them. However, we do not draw conclusions from these experiences through reasoning. Instead, Hume reveals that custom is the “great guide of human life” (28). Humans look for similarities to help us make conclusions. Through witnessing similar causes produce similar effects, we become more prone to expect those effects later down the road. A “firm reliance and security with regard to a particular event” does not arise suddenly or with ease (23). Instead, it takes trial after trial to make the effect seem likely. If one were to expect something unlikely, however, this would make prior experience futile because no plausible conclusion could be formed from it. Hume’s alternative to reason or any process of understanding is the custom of habit. In regards to cause and effect, the continuous

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