The Impossibility of Metaphysics Essay

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In his work An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume outlines the problems inherent to the large body of philosophy he describes as the “accurate and abstract” philosophy, and in particular to metaphysical speculations. Seeing that many of the philosophers who endeavor in this heavy metaphysical speculation (Aristotle, Locke and Malebranche being particular examples) fall into errors that lead to absurd or counter-intuitive conclusions, Hume hopes to limit metaphysical speculation to a realm where it is less prone to such a fate. Hume attempts to reign the difficult kind of philosophy into the service of the body of work he contrasts it with, the “easy and obvious,” by establishing a method and clarity for metaphysics that he hopes …show more content…
With this he explains how a man, born blind, would have no conception of color, or, born deaf, no conception of sound. This distinction becomes the cornerstone for Hume’s further arguments. In part three of the Inquiry, Hume then outlines a sort of hierarchy of ideas and impressions, distinguishing between simple and complex. Simple ideas and impressions are the fundamental building blocks of complex ideas and impressions, and for any term to have meaning, Hume argues, it must be traceable back to a simple impression. This commitment is at the root of many of Hume’s lines of inquiry, such as his questions regarding causation; from what simple idea do we get the idea of necessary connection? I will return to this again in a moment when reconstructing Hume’s arguments against metaphysics.
 Part four of the Inquiry provides another distinction of paramount importance to Hume’s arguments: the distinction between relations of ideas and matters of fact. Relations of ideas are a priori propositions that produce absurd conclusions when negated. He provides the pythagorean theorem as an example of relations of ideas, and asserts that they are knowable by process of thought alone, proclaiming that “though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid for ever retain their certainty and evidence.” We can be certain with relations of ideas, as their negation is impossible. Matters of fact, on the other

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