An enquiry concerning human understanding by David Hume

By David Hume

After his three-volume Treatise of Human Nature dropped like a rock to the ground of the pool of British philosophic writing, Hume got down to write a briefer, extra available model -- the Enquiry pertaining to Human realizing. one of many early issues it makes is that almost all endeavors to jot down concerning the nature of inspiration are hopeless and approximately very unlikely to appreciate. With that disclaimer, Hume units out to contradict himself by way of writing lucidly approximately, whereas candidly acknowledging the critical limits of, this subject. He makes use of common sense to teach that the majority human realizing falls into different types: a really small workforce of innate truths deducible by means of common sense, like all triangle has 3 aspects, and a far higher team -- approximately every thing we "know" -- that is in line with reality-based remark. This latter team consistently has, at a primary point, a component of probabilistic assumption: issues almost always occurred this fashion ahead of, in order that they most likely will back. hence nearly every thing we (think we) learn about the realm is predicated on empirical adventure, now not natural good judgment. So . . .how did he determine this all out?

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Secondly: like its command over the body, the command of the mind over itself is limited; and these limits are not known by reason, or any acquaintance with the nature of cause and effect, but only in the way we know all other natural events, namely by experience and observation. Our authority over our feelings and passions is much weaker than our authority over our ideas; and even the latter authority is contained within narrow boundaries. Will anyone claim to assign the ultimate reason for these boundaries, or show why the power is lacking in one case and not in another?

If there is any relation between objects that it matters to us to know perfectly, it is that of cause and effect. It is the basis for all our reasonings about matters of fact or existence; it alone assures us about objects that are not now present to memory or senses. The only immediate use of all the sciences is to teach us how to control and regulate future events through their causes. So our thoughts and enquiries are at every moment concerned with the relation of cause to effect; yet our ideas regarding it are so imperfect that we can’t accurately define ‘cause’ except in terms of something that is extraneous to the cause, forming no part of it.

From all of this we can safely conclude that our idea of power is not copied from any feeling or consciousness of power within ourselves when we get our limbs to perform their normal functions. 8 Well, then, shall we assert that we are conscious of a power or energy in our own minds when, by an act or command of our will, we ·make something happen in our minds; for example, when we· raise up a new idea, make our mind focus on it, turn it on all sides, and finally dismiss it when we think that we have inspected it with enough accuracy?

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