A Blupete Biography Page

Hume's Philosophy, Part 3 to the Life & Works of
David Hume

David Hume was an empiricist from the school of Locke. For empiricists, knowledge comes to a person exclusively through experience. What is true is what is experienced by the senses, and which, at the same time, is consistent and coherent with past experiences. (It was upon this basis that natural physical laws, such as Newtonian laws, were developed.16) We all take our cue from the customary or habitual succession of events. We judge that there is a causal relationship, and that the probabilities are that in the future a similar sequence of events will take place. Things, however, do not take place as a matter of necessity; things are not predetermined. Because of this, it is possible that some things, which we hold dear and near to our hearts, do not in fact exist, nonetheless, we proceed in life and make decisions, best we can, based on experience; and, regularly and subconsciously, bet that things will turn out for the best.

Hume questioned the process of inductive thinking, which had been the hallmark of science. Hume was of the view that no matter how many individual observations an investigator may come up with (empiricism), he would never be in a position to make an unrestricted general statement. "When on innumerable occasions we observe certain experiences succeeding others, we naturally feel under similar circumstances in the future like events or causes will be followed by like effects. ... only custom or habit may validly be said to serve as the foundation for this causal idea."17 There is no guarantee, no matter how accustomed we may have become to certain sequential events of the past that the sequence will necessarily repeat itself. He concluded that the "whole of our science assumes the regularity of nature - assumes the future will be like the past ..."18 This is referred to in the texts as Hume's problem, the problem of induction.

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Peter Landry
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2011