THERE is no trap that is easier to stumble into than that of trying to show whether one philosopher did or did not answer the problem of another philosopher. The trap consists in the tendency to think that both philosophers handled the problem in precisely the same way, even though they represent two quite different traditions. This is especially true of thinkers like David Hume and Charles Sanders Peirce. John Smith has shown quite convincingly that we cannot understand the American (...) pragmatists by limiting discussion to the epistemological questions of the British empiricist tradition stemming from Hume, Mill, and Russell. And A. J. Ayer can be faulted for attempting to do just that. However, it is possible for one to treat of Peirce's answer to Hume on necessary connection without falling into the trap. First of all, both philosophers raised the same kind of question. It is clear that Peirce had Hume specifically in mind when on many an occasion he attacked nominalism and defended real connections. But they differed in that Peirce defended his position from a broader perspective enabling him to arrive at a more satisfactory conclusion. To establish this thesis, it will be necessary to focus on several aspects of their thought that bear upon the topic under discussion. Undoubtedly the task of selection and interpretation of details has many a trap of its own, but it is hoped that the more obvious ones can be avoided. (shrink)
This volume traces the influence of the British Empiricists--John Locke and David Hume--upon the American pragmatists--Charles S Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. But there are significant differences between the two traditions so that it can be said that the pragmatists gave the classical empirical tradition new directions. Heretofore these lines of influence and divergence have been recognized but not sufficiently developed. This movement is illustrated in chapters on experience, necessary connection, personal identity, and moral, social, and political theory. A (...) final chapter indicates the challenges that are still to be addressed by pragmatism. (shrink)
This book addresses what is generally regarded as the most crucial and yet most controversial problem in Hume's philosophy, namely, the nature of his scepticism and realism. John Wright argues against those who emphasize either the sceptical or realist strains in Hume's thought or who despair of ever finding any consistency in it. The paradoxical title of the book indicates the author's claim to have reconciled these two strains into a unified theory.