In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Hume's Theory of Belief Michael M. Gorman Belief is a key concept in Hume's philosophy, and yet Hume's statements aboutbeliefappear to be hopelesslyinconsistent.1 Various solutions have been offered, from saying that Hume is incorrigibly confused to saying that his theory ofbeliefchanged over the course of his career. This article will focus on the question ofthe nature ofbelief and show that Hume's theory is in fact consistent. In sections 1 (...) and 2, I will separate those passages where Hume discusses the nature of beUeffrom those where he discusses other questions. In sections 3-6, 1 will examine his theory ofthe nature ofbelief. Finally, in section 7, 1 will briefly look at his theories on other questions concerning belief. 1.Hume's statements about belief can be divided into at least nine different categories. Hume says that a beliefis: 1.an idea conceived in a certain manner (e.g., E 49, T 96); 2.that certain manner ofconception itself(e.g., E 49, T 97); 3.an idea that feels a certain way (e.g., E 48, T 103); 4.that certain feeling itself(e.g., E 49, T 624, 629); 5.an idea that has a great influence on the mind (e.g, T 118-20); 6.an act ofmind rendering realities influential on the mind (e.g., E 49, T 629); 7.a lively idea related to an impression (e.g., T 96); 8.a lively manner of conceiving an idea, which manner arises from an impression (e.g., E 50); 9.something that makes ideas forceful and vivacious (e.g., T 101, 627). If one were in a really bad mood, one could probably split Hume's formulations into even more categories.2 2.One solution wouldbe to saythat Hume ishopelessly confused.3 This is not accurate, however. The first thingtobe done is to notice thatonly the statements belonging to the first four categories are actually answers to the question, What is the nature of beUef? Hume tells us that abeUefis: an ideaconceived in acertainmanner, theverymanner ofconception ofsuch an idea, an idea thatfeels a certain way, thevery feeling of such an idea. To explicate Hume's theory of the nature of Volume XLX Number 1 89 MICHAEL M. GORMAN beUef, I will show that the second formulation is a poor version ofthe first and that the fourth formulation is a poor version ofthe third—in other words, that there are reallyonlytwo theorieshere, notfour. Then I will reconcile these two theories. As for Hume's discussion ofother questions concerning belief, the statementsin the fifth and sixth categories address the question, What does à belief do? Those in the seventh and eighth categories take for granted the statements in the first and second categories respectively and address the further question, What causes beliefs? Those in the ninth category are probably cases of bad writing. All these will be examined in section 7. 3. Let us look at the texts that fit into the first and second categories listed in section 1. These express what can be called Hume's "manner-of-conception theory" (MCT). First, Hume says that a belief is a certain kind ofidea, namely an idea conceived in a certain manner. He describes this manner ofconception by saying that such an idea is conceived with a high degree of force and vivacity, liveliness, and so forth. This analysis rests on Hume's distinction between the content of an idea and the manner in which the idea is conceived. [A]s 'tis certain there is a great difference betwixt the simple conception ofthe existence ofan object, and the beliefofit, and as this difference lies not in the parts or composition of the idea, which we conceive; it follows, that it must lie in the manner, in which we conceive it. (T 94-95) One can believe that something is the case, or one can simply conceive ofits being the case without assenting to it. In both cases, Hume says, the content ofthe idea must be the same. Otherwise, both making up one's mind and disagreeingwith someone wouldbe impossible: making up one's mind would be a transition from thinking about one thing to thinking about... (shrink)
This dissertation is an investigation of ontological priority. The Introduction argues that although philosophers have often been concerned with the things that are ontologically prior, they have seldom addressed the question of what ontological priority is. ;Part One gives a detailed analysis of what ontological priority is. Chapter 1 notes that there are two competing theories available: according to the first, ontological priority is a dependence relation; according to the second, it is a degrees-of-being relation. Since the two views are (...) in themselves irreconcilable and since there are no good grounds for choosing between them, it is better to find a "higher" theory that encompasses both of them. Chapter 2 lays the groundwork for the development of this "higher" theory by examining the Scotistic notion of "essential order", a notion that includes the two relations that have been called 'ontological priority' as noted in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 adapts Scotus's understanding of essential order to formulate a definition of ontological priority. The definition does not define just one relation; rather, it gives membership criteria for an entire class of "ontological priority relations". ;Part Two examines some of the members of the class of ontological priority relations. Chapter 4 examines dependence and concludes three things: first, that the received understanding of dependence is incorrect; second, that dependence properly understood is an ontological priority relation; third, that the relation that is usually thought to be dependence is also an ontological priority relation. Chapter 5 examines degrees-of-being. Since the question of what degrees-of-being is is too complicated to deal with in the context of the dissertation, the chapter examines several theories and shows that degrees-of-being is an ontological priority relation according to any of the theories. ;The Conclusion shows some relations among the three ontological priority relations discussed in Part Two. It also shows briefly how the concept of ontological priority relations can be used to talk about the orderings of the universe. Finally, it points the way to further investigation. (shrink)
The philosophical literature understands ontological priority in two ways, in terms of dependence, and in terms of degrees-of-being. These views are not reconcilable in any straightforward manner. However, they can be reconciled indirectly, if both are seen as instances of higher-level concept that is a modification of John Duns Scotus' notion of essential order. The result is a theory of ontological priority that takes the form of a list of membership criteria for the class of "ontological priority relations", of which (...) dependence and degrees-of-being are just two examples. (shrink)
Betrifft die Handschriften Codd. 12, 13 (S. 185), 134 (S. 181, 332, 336-337), 224 (S. 173), 325 (S. 246), 352 (S. 185), 540 (S. 113, 211) und A 91.8 (S. 2-3, 168, 177, 320, 328, 354) der Burgerbibliothek Bern.