Category Archives: Kant and/or Hume

What we know when we know particulars

Some reflections on the early sections of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: If we try to think about what is most obvious in our experience, and what the most basic elements of knowledge are, we turn to sense perception. For it … Continue reading

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Meet the idealists

[excerpt from World as Idea] We have already met one idealist – Kant, who claimed that by the point at which we are conscious of experience, it has been shaped into a certain order in just the way a lecturer … Continue reading

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Hegelian vs. Kuhnian idealism

[from an essay in progress on idealism] What we have seen so far is that there is no observation of the world, and no understanding of it, without a theory. We have also met several idealists who believe, in varying … Continue reading

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Krug’s pen

Wilhelm Traugott Krug (1770-1842) was the philosopher who succeeded Kant in the chair for logic and metaphysics at the University of Königsberg. Just before taking on that role, he had thrown down a challenge for Schelling’s idealist philosophy: could Schelling, … Continue reading

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Idealism and contingency

(Reading Terry Pinkard’s marvelous German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism) It may be that the tenability of idealism comes down to the question of history. A resolute idealist discovers that the most fundamental framework of existence is expressed as … Continue reading

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Natural and agreeable fools

Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries … Continue reading

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Experiencing the moment

David Hume, that most sly student of human experience, declared he couldn’t find himself anywhere. As he gazed inward, he came across sensations, feelings, passions, and moods, but he had never come across aself in the way one might come … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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On appreciating systems

How wonderful it would be to be a systematic thinker! One marvels at the Aristotles, the Aquinases, the Descarteses, the Kants, and the Hegels and the Marxes (well, the Karl Marxes anyway), the Freuds – those who know how to … Continue reading

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David Hume – the “Assassin’s Assessor”

Edinburgh’s “Poker Club” began meeting in 1762. Each week, fifty or so gentlemen would congregate in a tavern for a long afternoon followed by dinner and argue events of the day ranging from politics to morals and culture – matters … Continue reading

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Sloterdijk, Hume, and a healthy skepticism

As I work through the recent works of Peter Sloterdijk (Spheres I: Bubbles, Spheres II: Globes), I am chiefly amazed and enthused by his ability to find deep symbolic and mythic connections throughout the history of philosophical thought, and to … Continue reading

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More musings on Humean causality

We expect that causal laws will be the same across all experience. Hume famously claims that this expectation is grounded neither in pure reason nor in experience. Not pure reason: for one can posit a cause and deny the effect … Continue reading

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Hume and the expedition to Canada

In 1746, Hume returned to London after touring Europe as tutor and caretaker of the mad Marquess of Annendale. He was not sure what was next in his life. He was already 35 and somewhat ashamed of not having yet … Continue reading

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Hume falls into a bog, promises his way out

At the beginning of book three of his Treatise on Human Nature, David Hume argues that justice is something we invent. In a word, justice is unnatural. It isn’t something we just see in the world, since we only ever … Continue reading

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Review of Phillipson’s Hume

Review of Nicholas Phillipson, Hume (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989). Many people know of David Hume the great empiricist, the skeptic of causality, and the architect of a moral system based on natural sentiments. But in his own day, … Continue reading

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