Nathan Sasser's ‘purely practical reading of Hume’s response to skepticism’ is so natural and compelling that it is almost surprising that his new monograph, Hume and the Demands of Philosophy, offers its first systematic defence. I praise the book's clarity and concision, and then raise concerns about omitted topics, especially concerning Hume's views on the practical value of sceptical philosophy.
In her book Experience Embodied, Anik Waldow challenges and reimagines the traditional interpretative approach to the concept of experience in the early modern period. Traditionally, commentators have emphasized early moderns’ views on the first-person perspective and eschewed the relevance of our embodiment to their epistemological outlooks. My focus here is on Waldow’s chapter on Hume, wherein she analyzes Hume’s account of our capacity for reflective moral judgment, arguing that he understands it as natural despite the countless ways in which our (...) embodied social experiences impinge on it. After detailing Waldow’s contributions, I clarify, corroborate, and criticize them. Since I contend that Waldow is broadly successful in her interpretative efforts, I suggest that she undermines the traditional interpretative approach to experience in the early modern period, but not in the sense that she moves us away from the epistemological towards other lenses. Rather, Waldow should be understood as showing that, at least in the case of Hume’s metaethics, the epistemological is embodied, is social, and is both cognitive and sentimental. (shrink)
Response to Don Baxter, Don Garrett and Jennifer Marusic regarding my book Imagined Causes: Hume's Conception of Objects; initially delivered at the 2016 Hume Conference in Sydney, Australia as part of the Author Meets Critics session.
En este capítulo se ofrece una posible crítica de Hume a Descartes en torno a la imaginación y el entendimiento. Primero se analiza el concepto de imaginación en Descartes y se sostiene que el concepto es equívoco, ya que en un sentido carece de valor epistémico pero en otro sentido sí lo tiene. A continuación se explora el concepto de imaginación como una facultad subordinada al entendimiento y se observan sus repercusiones en Spinoza y Leibniz. Finalmente se exponen las críticas (...) de Kant y Hume con respecto a los límites del entendimiento y se ofrece una posible crítica de Hume a Descartes en torno a la imaginación y el entendimiento. (shrink)
En este texto se aborda el problema del yo en David Hume, Para comprender la inconsistencia del pensamiento de Hume en lo tocante a la identidad personal, misma que ha sido señalada por diversos comentaristas, nos serviremos de dos conceptos: la ironía y el utilitarismo. El primero nos permitirá ver más allá de las propias afirmaciones de Hume para descubrir un conjunto de temas, problemas y elementos teóricos implícitos y poco desarrollados por él mismo, pero muy prolíficos en los estudios (...) actuales de su pensamiento, así como aplicables a temas actuales de filosofía. Asimismo, la ironía nos permitirá abordar el problema de la identidad personal sobre la base de una metafísica de la intermitencia y una ambivalencia epistemológica. El utilitarismo, por su parte, nos permitirá interpretar a Hume como un antecesor del pragmatismo, un pensador que no se preocupaba tanto del aspecto teórico como del aspecto práctico de la filosofía. Asimismo, nos ayudará a delimitar la concepción de la identidad personal que se propone y a apreciar sus ventajas en la actualidad. (shrink)
Hume is an experimental philosopher who attempts to understand why we think, feel, and act as we do. But how should we evaluate the adequacy of his proposals? This chapter examines Hume’s account from the perspective of interdisciplinary work in cognitive science.
The goal of this paper is show how an initially appealing objection to David Hume's account of judgment can only be put forward by philosophers who accept an account of judgment that has its own sizable share of problems. To demonstrate this, I situate the views of John Locke, David Hume, and Thomas Reid with respect to each other, so as to illustrate how the appealing objection is linked to unappealing features of Locke's account of judgment.
Este trabajo se divide en dos partes relacionadas pero independientes. La primera es un estudio de las percepciones y la subjetividad en el pensamiento de Hume. Del estudio mencionado se extraen elementos para una ontología de la imaginación, en particular la idea de intermitencia ontológica que se deriva del primer libro del Tratado de la naturaleza humana. En la segunda parte se estudia la epistemología de las virtudes de Ernest Sosa y se introduce el concepto de imaginación, así como la (...) idea de intermitencia extraída del pensamiento de Hume. A partir de lo anterior se pondera el valor epistémico de la imaginación y se postula la noción de paradigma de verdad. (shrink)
In this paper I try to understand David Hume’s theory of the ideas as an alternative ontology. I assume that David Hume seeks to establish a criterion of human knowledge and moral behavior by thinking the fundamental concepts from philosophical tradition, such as substance and personal identity or subjectivity, and turning between the denial and the affirmation of them. In this sense, the criticism of the metaphysical tradition, to which some interpreters reduce his theory, and the alternative ontology which we (...) purpose here, have to promote a middle ground between common sense and philosophical meaning of life, truth and morality. In the development of this interpretation the classifi cations perceptions are exposed, being independent existences and the basis of Hume’s epistemology. Subsequently, the elements of an intermittent subjectivity that can be derived from them are exposed. Finally, we consider the figments of the imagination, being the latter, rather than a power of representation among others, a substance between substances. (shrink)
En el presente artículo se propone una interpretación del pensamiento de Hume para la comprensión de temas y problemas filosóficos que Hume, en su tiempo, no tuvo en consideración, pero que el día de hoy son relevantes. En primer lugar, se analiza el principio de semejanza y se postula la tesis de la unidad de las percepciones a partir de dicho principio. En segundo lugar, mediante un razonamiento analógico se trata de aplicar la doctrina de las percepciones en Hume para (...) la comprensión y fundamentación filosófica de los derechos humanos, en especial en lo tocante al principio de igualdad y simpatía entre seres humanos. Finalmente, se considera una concepción contemporánea de semejanza que nos permite replantear el problema y reafirmar la importancia de la imaginación y la fantasía en la comprensión y fundamentación de los derechos humanos. (shrink)
in the treatise, hume claims to identify many “fictions of the imagination” among both “vulgar” and philosophical beliefs. To name just a few, these include the fiction of one aggregate composed of many parts,1 the fiction of a material object’s identity through change, and the fiction of a human mind’s identity through change and interruption in its existence. Hume claims that these fictions and others like them are somehow defective: in his words, they are “improper,” “inexact,” or not “strict”. I (...) will argue that this claim conflicts with other commitments.. (shrink)
This chapter overviews Hume’s thoughts on the nature and role of imagining and focusses primarily on three important distinctions that Hume draws among our conscious mental episodes: (i) between impressions and ideas; (ii) between ideas of the memory and ideas of the imagination; and (iii), among the ideas of the imagination, between ideas of the judgement and ideas of the fancy. In addition, the chapter considers Hume’s views on the imagination as a faculty of producing ideas, as well as on (...) the part that imagining plays in the acquisition of modal knowledge and in the comprehension of, and resistance to, false or fictional opinions. (shrink)
This article explains Hume's conception of the imagination and its relations to our other faculties of thought, highlighting the continuities and discontinuities between his views and those of his Early Modern predecessors. It then presents some of the basic functions that Hume thinks the imagination performs, and surveys some highlights of his science of man, showing how he uses the imagination’s basic functions to explain several important mental phenomena; examines “fictions of the imagination,” which have an important place in his (...) science of man; examines his view that whatever we can clearly imagine is possible; and discusses the relationship between Hume’s theory of the imagination and his skepticism. (shrink)
This is the original, longer draft for my entry on Hume in the 'The Routledge Hand- book of Philosophy of Imagination', edited by Amy Kind and published by Routledge in 2016 (see the separate entry). — Please always cite the Routledge version, unless there are passages concerned that did not make it into the Handbook for reasons of length. — -/- This chapter overviews Hume’s thoughts on the nature and the role of imagining, with an almost exclusive focus on the (...) first book of his Treatise of Human Nature. Over the course of this text, Hume draws and discusses three important distinctions among our conscious mental episodes (or what he calls ‘perceptions’): (i) between impressions (including perceptual experiences) and ideas (including recollections, imaginings and occurrent beliefs); (ii) between ideas of the memory and ideas of the imagination; and (iii), among the ideas of the imagination, between ideas of the judgement (i.e. occurrent beliefs) and ideas of the fancy (i.e. imaginings). I discuss each distinction in turn, also in connection to contemporary views on imagining. In addition, I briefly consider Hume’s views on the imagination as a faculty aimed at the production of ideas, as well as on the role that imagining plays in the wider context of our mental lives, notably in the acquisition of modal knowledge and in the comprehension of, and resistance to, stories and opinions that we take to be false or fictional. (shrink)
Over the past years the relevance of compassion for society and specific practices such as in healthcare is becoming a focus of attention. Philosophers and scientists discuss theoretical descriptions and defining characteristics of the phenomenon and its benefits and pitfalls. However, there are hardly any empirical studies which substantiate these writings in specific societal areas. Besides, compassion may be in the eye of attention today but has always been of interest for many contemporary philosophers as well as philosophers in the (...) past, David Hume amongst them. Three themes related to Hume’s hypotheses on compassion are discussed and compared to outcomes of an empirical study amongst nurses and patients with a chronic disease. This comparison gives insights into the perception of those for whom compassion is of specific importance in their daily lives and into the usefulness of Hume’s notions on compassion. (shrink)
David Hume fancied himself the Newton of the mind, aiming to reinvent the study of human mental life in the same way that Newton had revolutionized physics. And it was his view that the novel account of belief he proposed in his Treatise of Human Nature was one of that work’s central philosophical contributions. From the earliest responses to the Treatise forward, however, there was deep pessimism about the prospects for his account. It is easy to understand the source of (...) this pessimism: The constraints he employed in theorizing stem from his Newtonian ambitions. Constraints such as his copy principle and his decision to rely only on variations in “force and vivacity” for differentiating types of mental states severely limit his available explanatory resources. However, it is one thing to regard an account as untenable, and quite another to understand where it fails. In this paper, I focus on one long-standing objection to Hume’s account — the objection that Hume cannot offer an account of negative belief or denial — as presented by Hume’s contemporary Thomas Reid, as well as more recently by Barry Stroud, and defend Hume from this objection. I argue that Hume both should and does endorse an account of negative belief based in relations of contrariety between contents, rather than between mental activities, and survey the different options available to Hume for spelling out an account of contrary contents. (shrink)
Two particular approaches to the imagination as a recreative capacity have recently gained prominence: neo-Humeanism and simulationatism. According to neo-Humeanism, imaginings have cognitions as a constitutive part of their representational contents; while simulationalists maintain that, in imagining, we essentially simulate the occurrence of certain cognitive states. Two other kinds of constitutive dependence, that figure regularly in the debate, concern the necessity of cognitions for, respectively, the causation and the semantic power of imaginings. In what follows, I discuss each of these (...) kinds of dependence and assess how useful they are for spelling out the conception of imaginings as recreations of cognitions. A particular focus will thereby be on the details of Hume's original conception of imaginings as causal reproductions (or ‘copies’) of cognitions, as well as on the influence of his view on contemporary approaches to the topic which replace Hume's causal understanding of the representational link between imaginings and cognitions with either an intentional or a relational understanding. My conclusion will be that, if imaginings should be taken to be recreations at all, then they should be taken to be representational recreations. That is, neo-Humeanism turns out to be the most plausible way of understanding imaginings as recreations of cognitions. (shrink)
Two particular approaches to the imagination as a recreative capacity have recently gained prominence: neo-Humeanism and simulationatism. According to neoHumeanism, imaginings have cognitions as a constitutive part of their representational contents; while simulationalists maintain that, in imagining, we essentially simulate the occurrence of certain cognitive states. Two other kinds of constitutive dependence, that figure regularly in the debate, concern the necessity of cognitions for, respectively, the causation and the semantic power of imaginings. In what follows, I discuss each of these (...) kinds of dependence and assess how useful they are for spelling out the conception of imaginings as recreations of cognitions. A particular focus will thereby be on the details of Hume’s original conception of imaginings as causal reproductions (or “copies”) of cognitions, as well as on the influence of his view on contemporary approaches to the topic which replace Hume’s causal understanding of the representational link between imaginings and cognitions with either an intentional or a relational understanding. My conclusion will be that, if imaginings should be taken to be recreations at all, then they should be taken to be representational recreations. That is, neo-Humeanism turns out to be the most plausible way of understanding imaginings as recreations of cognitions. (shrink)
Bernard Freydberg’s recent work is a careful and compact study of David Hume’s signature texts: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding , An Enquiry Concerning Principles of Morals , and “Of the Standard of Taste” . Contrary to traditional epistemological readings that comfortably situate Hume as an empiricist naturalist, Freydberg argues that he is better understood as a profound thinker of imagination and Socratic ignorance. Hume’s figurative and Platonic argumentation varies in each text, but Freydberg makes a convincing case that his (...) theoretical, moral, and aesthetic philosophies share a proto-phenomenological center in the artistry of human nature and perception. (shrink)
Although the imagination plays a salient role in the epistemology of the Treatise of Human Nature, it has received far less attention than many other topics. Taking a closer look at the Newtonian analogies Hume employs in his analysis of this faculty – passed over more often than not in this context – enhances the understanding of the origins of his scepticism and reinforces the landmark character of his theory for the history of constructivism.
David Hume endorses three claims that are difficult to reconcile: (1) sympathy with those in distress is sufficient to produce compassion towards their plight, (2) adopting the general point of view often requires us to sympathize with the pain and suffering of distant strangers, but (3) our care and concern is limited to those in our close circle. Hume manages to resolve this tension, however, by distinguishing two types of sympathy. We feel compassion towards those around us because associative sympathy (...) causes us to mirror their pain and suffering, but our ability to enter into the afflictions of those remote from us involves cognitive sympathy and merely requires us to reflect upon how we would feel in their shoes. This hybrid theory of sympathy receives support from recent work on affective mirroring and cognitive pretense. Hume’s account should appeal to contemporary researchers, therefore, who are interested in the nature of moral imagination. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of the imagination in Hume's epistemology. Three specific powers of the imagination are identified – the imagistic, conceptual and productive – as well as three corresponding kinds of fictions based on the degree of belief contained in each class of ideas the imagination creates. These are generic fictions, real and mere fictions, and necessary fictions, respectively. Through these manifestations, it is emphasized, Hume presents the imagination both as the positive force behind human creativity and a (...) subversive presence that transforms experience while at once making it possible. (shrink)
Now classified as mid-way between epistemology and metaphysics, that part of 18th-century ‘science of human nature’ concerned with the investigation of human perceptions and passions was in fact closely allied both to moral and natural philosophy and to medicine. This chapter the roles in the formation of belief that writers in this tradition and authors of novels attributed to the readers' senses and imagination, and to their social intercourse. In particular, it focusses on the relative educational and moral value attributed (...) to history, romance, and novels, and the readers' sympathetic responses to historical and fictional writings as they were represented and discussed in Charlotte Lennox' The Female Quixote, and in David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. (shrink)
In this article, I make a philosophical comparison between Hobbes' and Hume's s conceptions of imagination. The article should not be taken as an examination of Hobbes' real effect on Hume's thinking. That is a historical problem I do not address. In addition to being philosophically comparative, the article is expli- cative. Since the subject matter is so broad, I have been compelled to confine myself to the explicative level in my examination. I unfold Hume's conception of imagination, take Juhana (...) Lemetti's interpretation of Hobbes for granted (with some subtle alterations) and then compare my Hume to Lemetti's Hobbes. I will not go into all the details of Hume's rich and many-sided conception and many problems cannot be discussed in the paper; my intention is to shed some light on Hobbes' and Hume's thinking by comparing their conceptions of imagination and their reasons for the conceptions. (shrink)
To what extent and how is conceivability a guide to possibility? This essay explores general philosophical issues raised by this question, and critically surveys responses to it by Descartes, Hume, Kripke and "two-dimensionalists.".
Hume's theory of human understanding is frequently characterized as showing how imagination is determined by experience, where experience is reduced to the relation between a spectator and sensible objects. But a survey of Hume's work as a whole shows that he depends on a much richer concept of experience, one that reaches beyond the relation between object and spectator to include the network of relations between a spectator and her community, and between an individual's perceptions and her personal interests and (...) passions. ;In the first four chapters I concentrate on Book I of the Treatise in establishing two views of imagination--one based on an experiential model illustrated by the mechanical metaphor, and the other on an educational model illustrated by the metaphor of the republic or commonwealth. In Chapter 5 I describe the way in which Hume thinks scepticism permits us to attain the self-knowledge that enables us to live as moral beings responsible for our beliefs. In Chapter 6 I turn to Hume's essays on taste to describe the creative role imagination must play if we are to give the "due attention" required of an impartial spectator. In the final chapter I return to the relation between society and imagination to describe how we learn from the testimony of others. ;Hume does not offer a hierarchical or dualistic account of human nature. He thinks we must engage in "well-mixed" lives in which neither reasoning nor acting draw too much. The pull of these extremes is tempered by on-going participation in "polite conversation" with our community, which grounds our ideas in common sense, refines our thoughts, and extends our experience and humanity. It makes a great deal of difference which events in an individual or corporate life are invested with causal significance, and which are perceived as paradigms of moral praise or blame. And that for this reason, I conclude that our moral responsibility extends to the nature of the stories we tell about ourselves and each other. (shrink)
Grant that Hume is a contractarian. Justice then arises from more basic features of humans and their circumstances. Among these more basic features from which justice arises Hume includes (in addition to self-interest narrowly construed) the widely held passions of benevolence and sympathy. But it is mysterious why he included them in his contractarian theory for the derivation of justice does not need them, and may even be weaker with them included. This paper suggests that Hume’s philosophy of mind, in (...) particular his account of the imagination, forced him to include benevolence and sympathy along with self-interest as the passions on which justice is based. (shrink)
An attempt has been made in this article to demonstrate that hume's remarks on the problem of imagination are of paramount importance for the understanding of his whole philosophy. the distinction between three different faculties of the imagination is made in the opening chapters: 1) the metaphysical faculty, with the help of which we make assertions about the world that lies beyond the empirical (products: metaphysical systems, anthropomorphisms, prejudices); 2) the artistic faculty, with whose aid we can break through the (...) given order of things and construct new relationships between them (fancy; products: art, experiments); 3) the scientific faculty, with the help of which we structure the stream of perceptions (association of ideas; products: scientific systems). in the remaining chapters, the author discusses hume's analyses concerning the function of these three faculties of the imagination and their role in the cognitive process and in the development of moral sentiments. (shrink)
It is often supposed that in order to refute the view that laws of nature are necessary truths it is sufficient to appeal to Hume's argument from the conceivability of to the possibility of their being false. But while Hume's argument does present the necessitarian with insuperable difficulties it needs to be made clear just what these are. The mere appeal to Hume is quite insufficient for what he says can be interpreted in more than one way. And if it (...) constitutes an argument rather than a mere assertion Kneale has given reason to suppose that it is at least not obviously valid. The upshot of this article is that Hume's argument may be seen as a direct challenge to the notion that there could be propositions whose modal value is necessarily "opaque to the human intellect". (shrink)
The present work is, as its title indicates, a study of Hume's theory of imagination. Naturally, it is a study of a particular sort. It has a certain scope and limitations, takes a certain line of approach, exhibits certain emphases, has certain ends-in-view, etc. As an initial step in specifying the nature of this study, I shall indicate its central problem, i. e. , that problem to the solution of which the solutions of the various other problems with which it (...) is concerned are merely means. The central problem of this study is that of determining how Hume's theory of im agination is related to, or involved in, the generic features and main lines of argument of his philosophy of the human understanding. The expression "philosophy of the human understanding" is obvious to allude to a restriction on the scope of this investigation. ly intended Actually, it is a title suggested to me by two of Hume's philosophical writings; and to anyone who is even modestly acquainted with these writings, its reference should be no mystery. Hume published the first two so-called "Books" of his A Treatise of Human Nature in 1739. The first of these two Books was entitled "Of the Human Understanding. " Nine years later, he published a work under the title, An Enquiry Con cerning Human Understanding. (shrink)
Handout for a Conference in Honor of Don Garrett at NYU. Hume is famous for his critique of attempts to make robust use of terms like “power” or “faculty” in a philosophical or scientific context. But Hume’s philosophy is itself structured around the attribution to human beings of a variety of basic faculties or mental powers – such as reason or the understanding, the imagination, and the various powers involved in Hume’s account of impressions of sensation and reflection. Indeed, this (...) is so true that, Hume “never hesitates to infer from the fact that the mind regularly does something of a particular recognizable kind that it has a power to do it and a faculty by which it does.” (Garrett 2015, 81) In this way, Hume continues to treat mental faculties as forming something very close to the explanatory bedrock of his new “science of man”. In this talk, I consider whether Hume is entitled to this – or whether it points to a fundamental instability in his philosophy. (shrink)