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Hume, David; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

4. Skeptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding Leading questions: What is the nature of all our reasonings concerning matter of fact? What is the foundation of all our reasonings and conclusions concerning that relation? What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience? What is the nature of all our reasonings concerning matter of fact? the relation of cause and effect All the objects of human reason or enquiry: Relations of ideas Affirmations that are intuitively or demonstrably certain e.g. 3 X 5 = 30 / 2, theorem of Pythagoras Matters of fact The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction the sun will not rise tomorrow is no more a contradiction than that it will rise. What is the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the records of our memory? All reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of Cause and Effect. A man believes that his friend is in France. If you ask him why he believes this, he will give you a reason that is another fact: perhaps a letter received from him or the knowledge of a promise. All our reasonings concerning fact suppose that there is a connection between the fact and its cause We hear a voice in the dark and we are assured of another person. Why? Because that is the sound made by a person.

What is the foundation of all our reasonings and conclusions concerning that relation? experience We must enquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect Not by reasoning a priori; but, without exception, entirely from experience An Adam -- even with rational faculties -- if given water could not conclude that it could drown him or that a fire he was shown could burn him. Causes and effects are discoverable by experience, and not by reason Unassisted by experience, our reason can draw no inference concerning real existence or matter of fact. All the laws of nature are known only through experience and past observation leading to custom It cannot find the effect in the supposed cause by examining the cause because the effect is totally different from the cause. The motion of the second billiard-ball is distinct from that of the first. What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience? a negative answer It is not reasoning or any process of the understanding. It is not our senses. They can inform us of the colour and consistency of bread but neither sense nor reason can inform us of the qualities that fit it for the nourishment of the body. There is no known connection between sensible qualities and secret powers. And there is no reason why past experience (eating bread and our body being nourished) should be extended to the future. Because bread nourished me at one time does not mean that it will do so at another time. It is not a necessary consequence. I have found in the past that an object has brought a particular effect; and I will find that other objects of like appearance will be attended by like effects. Two types of reasoning:

Demonstrative reasoning concerning relations of ideas it implies no contradiction that the course of nature may change Moral reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence since that would be a circular argument It is, then, only the aid of experience which allows one to draw an inference; but that inference is not a causal connection, for otherwise the causal connection could be inferred from the first appearance. 5. Sceptical Solution of these Doubts: Part 1: Human beings reasoning: all reasonings from experience, there is a step taken by the mind, which is not supported by any argument or process of the understanding; there is no danger, that these reasonings, on which almost all knowledge depends, will ever be affected by such a discovery. observing a continual succession of objects, and one event following another; but he would not be able to discover anything farther. he has acquired more experience, and observed similar objects or events to be constantly conjoined together. He immediately infers the existence of one object from the appearance of the other. Yet he has not, by all his experience, acquired any idea or knowledge of the secret power. Habit & Custom: For wherever the repetition of any particular act or operation produces a propensity to renew the same act or operation, without being impelled by any reasoning or process of the understanding; we always say, that this propensity is the effect of Custom. For Example: we assert, that, after the constant conjunctions of two objects, heat and flame, for instance, weight and solidity, we are determined by custom alone to expect the one from the appearance of the other.( draw from a thousand instances )

Reason is incapable of any such variation. All inferences from experience, therefore, are effects of custom, not of reasoning. Experience , memory and senses: Experience carry us beyond our memory and senses. Yet some fact must always be present to the senses or memory, from which we may first proceed in drawing these conclusions. But did nothing of this nature occur to him, he could never form such an inference. if we proceed not upon some fact, present to the memory or senses, our reasonings would be merely hypothetical However the particular links might be connected with each other, the whole chain of inferences would have nothing to support it, nor could we ever, by its means, arrive at the knowledge of any real existence. Understanding: All belief of matter of fact or real existence is derived merely from some object, present to the memory or senses, and a customary conjunction between that and some other object. (in many instances) All these operations are a species of natural instincts, which no reasoning or process of the thought and understanding is able, either to produce, or to prevent. Part 2: Imagination : It has unlimited power of mixing, compounding, separating, and dividing these ideas, in all the varieties of fiction and vision. But it is not in our power to believe, that such an animal has ever really existed. Belief : belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain. For as there is no matter of fact which we believe so firmly, that we cannot conceive

the contrary, there would be no difference between the conception assented to, and that which is rejected, were it not for some sentiment, which distinguishes the one from the other. the difference between Imagination and Belief: the difference between fiction and belief lies in some sentiment or feeling The imagination has the command over all its ideas, and can join and mix and vary them, in all the ways possible. It may conceive fictitious objects with all the circumstances of place and time. belief consists not in the peculiar nature or order of ideas, but in the manner of their conception, and in their feeling to the mind. Besides, belief are very different to the feeling, and have a much greater influence Cause of Belief the sentiment of belief is nothing but a conception more intense and steady than what attends the mere fictions of the imagination, and that this manner of conception arises from a customary conjunction of the object with something present to the memory or senses: Three principles of connexion or association Nature has established connections among particular ideas, and that no sooner one idea occurs to our thoughts than it introduces its correlative, and carries our attention towards it, by a gentle and insensible movement. 1. Resemblance, Sensible objects have always a greater influence on the fancy than any other; and this influence they readily convey to those ideas, to which they are related, and which they resemble. (eg: the picture of an absent friend, The ceremonies of the ROMAN CATHOLIC religion) 2. Contiguity Distance diminishes the force of every idea, and that, upon our approach to any object. The thinking on any object readily transports the mind to what is contiguous; but it is only the actual presence of an object, that transports it with a superior vivacity.

(eg: A few miles from home VS Two hundred leagues distant;) 3. Causation, the belief of the correlative object is always presupposed; without which the relation could have no effect. This belief, where it reaches beyond the memory or senses, is of a similar nature, and arises from similar causes, with the transition of thought and vivacity of conception here explained. This transition of thought from the cause to the effect proceeds not from reason. It derives its origin altogether from custom and experience. For example : When I throw a piece of dry wood into a fire, my mind is immediately carried to conceive, that it augments, not extinguishes the flame. Conclusion: There is a kind of pre-established harmony between the course of nature and the succession of our ideas; and though the powers and forces, by which the former is governed, be wholly unknown to us This operation of the mind, by which we infer like effects from like causes, and vice versa. 7. Skeptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding Main focus in this chapter: What is Necessary Connection? Is there such a thing? Necessary Connection: It means the (necessary) connection between cause and effect. It explains how a cause necessarily leads to an effect. The difficulties in finding out the Necessary Connection in external objects from our own experience: 1. Back to our own experience, we cant explain how a cause leads to an effect from within. We can only find that one (effect) follows the other (cause). Eg. The impulse of one billiard-ball is attended with motion in the second.

2. Also, from the cause itself, it cant explain the connection. We cant know the effect of a cause when it appears at the first time. Moreover, there is no any power or energy of cause discovered by mind to tell us the effect brought by the cause, we can only know that by experience. If we cant find out the connection in the external object, so maybe we can find it internally in our own self (our own mind and reflection). Will: (Some people think) Will is a power that internally causes the effects of our body like actions and our mind like thoughts. But Hume thinks will is not the cause of effect of our body and mind. Will is just a fact of experience that the effects follow from it. For this, He points out 6 points to argue. Will and body: 1. We cant understand the mysterious connection between will and body. 2. Will itself cant explain how it causes the effect--The fact that we cant move all our organs cant be told by will but experience. 3. The process of moving our organ is complicated but cant be explain in the way by the claim of will. Will and mind: 1. We cant understand the mysterious connection between will and mind. 2. The command of mind is limited; we cant control our sentiment and feeling freely through the will. 3. The will in mind is different at different time, that we cant understand it. God: Other than will, some people think God is the immediate cause of every effect. Its omnipotence makes everything possible. But Hume disagrees with it. He put two points to argue it. 1. We cant experience or conceive how god causes all the effect. 2. The connection that between the god and effect is mysterious. The conclusion of necessary connection provided by Hume: In our understanding, there is no necessary connection between cause and effect --Every cause and effect is just conjoined together.

According to our experience and habitation, we will think that there is a connection between cause and effect, and we will assign this connection to the similar thing in the next time. Re-definition of cause and effect according to above conclusion: 1. An object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other. 2. An object, followed by another, and where all the objects, similar to the first, are followed by objects similar to the second.