Learning from Hume; or, Hume and Particle Physics

Philosophy students are typically taught the wrong lesson from the great Scottish skeptic David Hume. The standard story goes something like this. British empiricists like Locke and Berkeley wanted to connect everything we know to what we experience through the senses. The welcome consequence of this strategy is that all the stuff we see and interact with stays known – but the spooky invisible stuff, ranging from magical spirits to substantial forms and other metaphysical clutter, all goes by the wayside. But (the story continues) Hume pointed out that this strategy ends up far more corrosive than anyone expected: for, if we hold our beliefs to what we actually experience, we shall have no knowledge of causality. We see one event, and another; but never do we experience the metaphysical glue that connects the two, and forces the second event to follow the first.

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About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
This entry was posted in 3QD essays, Historical episodes, Kant and/or Hume. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Learning from Hume; or, Hume and Particle Physics

  1. Mike says:

    Maybe Hume was trying to put Certainty in its place (similar to Wittgenstein in On Certainty). Instead of “Woohoo, I’m certain about that!”, “Whoops, turns out I’m certain.” I like to think of my certainties as unsightly birthmarks.


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