Hume on contingent existence

Hume (1748) attacked both the view of causation presupposed in the argument (that causation is an objective, productive, necessary power relation that holds between two things) and the Causal Principle—every contingent being has a cause of its existence—that lies at the heart of the argument.

What does Hume say about the cosmological argument?

Another argument that Hume presents, in criticism of the cosmological argument, concerns the assumption that an infinite series of causes and effects requires some explanation or cause for its existence.

What is David Hume’s theory?

According to Hume’s theory of the mind, the passions (what we today would call emotions, feelings, and desires) are impressions rather than ideas (original, vivid and lively perceptions that are not copied from other perceptions).

What are Hume’s criticisms?

The character Philo, a religious sceptic, voices Hume’s criticisms of the argument. He argues that the design argument is built upon a faulty analogy as, unlike with man-made objects, we have not witnessed the design of a universe, so do not know whether the universe was the result of design.

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Does Hume believe in a priori knowledge?

Hume concludes that a priori reasoning can’t be the source of the connection between our ideas of a cause and its effect. Contrary to what the majority of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors thought, causal inferences do not concern relations of ideas.

What is a contingent thing?

1 : dependent on or conditioned by something else Payment is contingent on fulfillment of certain conditions. a plan contingent on the weather. 2 : likely but not certain to happen : possible. 3 : not logically necessary especially : empirical.

What did Hume argue?

Hume begins by dividing all mental perceptions between ideas (thoughts) and impressions (sensations and feelings), and then makes two central claims about the relation between them. First, advancing what is commonly called Hume’s copy thesis, he argues that all ideas are ultimately copied from impressions.

What is Hume’s most famous for?

David Hume, (born May 7 [April 26, Old Style], 1711, Edinburgh, Scotland—died August 25, 1776, Edinburgh), Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. Hume conceived of philosophy as the inductive, experimental science of human nature.

How does Hume criticize rationalism?

Hume’s moral thought carves out numerous distinctive philosophical positions. He rejects the rationalist conception of morality whereby humans make moral evaluations, and understand right and wrong, through reason alone.

How did David Hume influence the Enlightenment?

David Hume (1711-1776) was a prominent intellectual of the Enlightenment. His books and essays generated radically innovative theories of human understanding, knowledge, religious belief, moral practice, aesthetic judgment, and political theory.

What does Hume think about matters of fact?

Hume suggests that we know matters of fact about unobserved things through a process of cause and effect.

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What does Hume mean when he says that all knowledge comes from either ideas or impressions?


Hume thinks that each of our ideas is either copied from a simple impression (per the Copy Principle), or is built up entirely from simple ideas that are so copied. If our minds could not reproduce our simple impressions, by forming simple ideas copied from them, then we could not form any ideas at all.

What is Hume’s distinction between matters of fact and relations of ideas?

According to Hume, they are not significant and do not tell us anything about the world. “Matters of fact”, on the other hand, contain a posteriori knowledge and are therefore synthetic propositions that tell us about the world. They are not certain and are based on sensory experience and cause and effect.

What does Humes fork tell us about knowledge?

By Hume’s fork, a statement’s meaning either is analytic or is synthetic, the statement’s truth—its agreement with the real world—either is necessary or is contingent, and the statement’s purported knowledge either is a priori or is a posteriori.

What does Hume think about the relationship between ideas that he identifies as cause and effect?

Hume argues that we cannot conceive of any other connection between cause and effect, because there simply is no other impression to which our idea may be traced. This certitude is all that remains. For Hume, the necessary connection invoked by causation is nothing more than this certainty.