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Ideas of David Hume, by Text

[British, 1711 - 1776, Born in Edinburgh. Worked for a while in Paris. Author of famous history of Britain. Died in Edinburgh.]

1739 Letters
1754 p.77 That events could be uncaused is absurd; I only say intuition and demonstration don't show this
to Hutcheson 1739 p.109 The idea of a final cause is very uncertain and unphilosophical
to Hutcheson 1739 p.110 All virtues benefit either the public, or the individual who possesses them
to Hutcheson 1740 p.110 Virtues and vices are like secondary qualities in perception, found in observers, not objects
1739 Treatise of Human Nature
p.-1 The idea of inductive evidence, around 1660, made Hume's problem possible [Hacking]
p.11 If one event causes another, the two events must be wholly distinct [Wilson/Schpall]
p.13 Even Hume didn't include mathematics in his empiricism [Kant]
p.14 Associationism results from having to explain intentionality just with sense-data [Robinson,H]
p.73 Modern science has destroyed the Platonic synthesis of scientific explanation and morality [Taylor,C]
p.74 Momentary impressions are wrongly identified with one another on the basis of resemblance [Quine]
p.77 Hume's 'bundle' won't distinguish one mind with ten experiences from ten minds [Searle]
p.107 For Hume, practical reason has little force, because we can always modify our desires [Graham]
p.146 Hume seems to presuppose necessary connections between mental events [Kripke]
p.176 The problem of getting to 'ought' from 'is' would also apply in getting to 'owes' or 'needs' [Anscombe]
p.186 For Hume a constant conjunction is both necessary and sufficient for causation [Crane]
p.226 Hume became a total sceptic, because he believed that reason was a deception [Kant]
p.232 Hume says objects are not a construction, but an imaginative leap [Robinson,H]
I.I.6 p.63 The only meaning we have for substance is a collection of qualities
I.I.7 p.67 If we see a resemblance among objects, we apply the same name to them, despite their differences
I.II.2 p.32 Nothing we clearly imagine is absolutely impossible
I.III.1 p.119 Two numbers are equal if all of their units correspond to one another
I.III.16 p.165 Necessity only exists in the mind, and not in objects
I.IV.2 p.159 Both number and unity are incompatible with the relation of identity
I.IV.2 p.200 There is no medium state between existence and non-existence
I.IV.2 p.200 Multiple objects cannot convey identity, because we see them as different
I.IV.2 p.200 'An object is the same with itself' is meaningless; it expresses unity, not identity
I.IV.2 p.201 Saying an object is the same with itself is only meaningful over a period of time
I.IV.2 p.201 Individuation is only seeing that a thing is stable and continuous over time
I.IV.3 p.222 Aristotelians propose accidents supported by substance, but they don't understand either of them
I.IV.4 p.31 We have no good concept of solidity or matter, because accounts of them are all circular
I.IV.6 p.162 A person is just a fast-moving bundle of perceptions
I.IV.6 p.162 Introspection always discovers perceptions, and never a Self without perceptions
I.IV.6 p.165 If identity survives change or interruption, then resemblance, contiguity or causation must unite the parts of it
I.IV.6 p.170 If a republic can retain identity through many changes, so can an individual
I.IV.6 p.170 The parts of a person are always linked together by causation
I.IV.6 p.170 Hume gives us an interesting sketchy causal theory of personal identity [Perry]
I.IV.6 p.171 Memory only reveals personal identity, by showing cause and effect
I.IV.6 p.171 We use memory to infer personal actions we have since forgotten
I.IV.6 p.251 A continuous lifelong self must be justified by a single sustained impression, which we don't have
I.IV.6 p.252 When I introspect I can only observe my perceptions, and never a self which has them
I.IV.6 p.252 A person is simply a bundle of continually fluctuating perceptions
I.IV.6 p.252 If all of my perceptions were removed by death, nothing more is needed for total annihilation
I.IV.6 p.254 We pretend our perceptions are continuous, and imagine a self to fill the gaps
I.IV.6 p.256 Changing a part can change the whole, not absolutely, but by its proportion of the whole
I.IV.6 p.256 A change more obviously destroys an identity if it is quick and observed
I.IV.6 p.257 The purpose of the ship makes it the same one through all variations
I.IV.6 p.258 If a ruined church is rebuilt, its relation to its parish makes it the same church
I.IV.6 p.258 We accept the identity of a river through change, because it is the river's nature
I.IV.6 p.259 Identity in the mind is a fiction, like that fiction that plants and animals stay the same
I.IV.6 p.261 Memory not only reveals identity, but creates it, by producing resemblances
I.IV.6 p.261 Causation unites our perceptions, by producing, destroying and modifying each other
I.IV.6 p.262 Who thinks that because you have forgotten an incident you are no longer that person?
I.IV.7.3 p.186 Memory, senses and understanding are all founded on the imagination
II.III.2 p.70 You can only hold people responsible for actions which arise out of their character
II.III.3 p.460 Reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will
II.III.3 p.462 Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions
II.III.ii p.130 Total selfishness is not irrational
III.1.1 p.521 You can't move from 'is' to 'ought' without giving some explanation or reason for the deduction
III.I.2 p.77 We cannot discover vice by studying a wilful murder; that only arises from our own feelings
IV.1.4 p.180 Mathematicians only accept their own proofs when everyone confims them
p.161 p.114 We have no idea of powers, because we have no impressions of them
p.168 p.114 There may well be powers in things, with which we are quite unacquainted
p.311 p.99 The distinction between a power and its exercise is entirely frivolous
p.313 p.99 Power is the possibility of action, as discovered by experience
1740 Treatise of Human Nature, + Appendix
p.131 Causation is just invariance, as long as it is described in general terms [Quine]
p.135 If impressions, memories and ideas only differ in vivacity, nothing says it is memory, or repetition [Whitehead]
p.209 Hume needs a notion which includes degrees of resemblance [Shoemaker]
Appen p.2 p.624 Belief is a feeling, independent of the will, which arises from uncontrolled and unknown causes
Appendix p.633 We have no impression of the self, and we therefore have no idea of it
Appendix p.634 Does an oyster with one perception have a self? Would lots of perceptions change that?
Appendix p.634 A proposition cannot be intelligible or consistent, if the perceptions are not so
Appendix p.635 Are self and substance the same? Then how can self remain if substance changes?
Appendix p.635 Perceptions are distinct, so no connection between them can ever be discovered
Bk 3 App. p.115 Experiences are logically separate, but factually linked by simultaneity or a feeling of continuousness [Ayer]
p.481 p.192 We have no natural love of mankind, other than through various relationships
1741 Nine political essays
p.75 Hume thought (unlike Locke) that property is a merely conventional relationship [Fogelin]
1741 Of the original contract
p.276 p.276 People must have agreed to authority, because they are naturally equal, prior to education
p.278 p.278 The idea that society rests on consent or promises undermines obedience
p.283 p.43 We no more give 'tacit assent' to the state than a passenger carried on board a ship while asleep
p.283 p.167 Poor people lack the knowledge or wealth to move to a different state
p.285 p.285 The people would be amazed to learn that government arises from their consent
p.288 p.288 We all know that the history of property is founded on injustices
p.291 p.291 Moral questions can only be decided by common opinion
1748 Enquiry Conc Human Understanding
p.9 Premises can support an argument without entailing it [Pollock/Cruz]
p.63 Hume never shows how a strong habit could generate the concept of necessity [Harré/Madden]
p.149 At first Hume said qualities are the causal entities, but later he said events [Davidson]
p.275 'Natural beliefs' are unavoidable, whatever our judgements [Strawson,G]
p.276 Hume's regularity theory of causation is epistemological; he believed in some sort of natural necessity [Strawson,G]
p.342 Hume mistakenly lumps sensations and perceptions together as 'impressions' [Scruton]
§82 p.104 All reasoning concerning matters of fact is based on analogy (with similar results of similar causes)
7.2.58 p.74 We cannot form an idea of a 'power', and the word is without meaning
7.2.60 p.77 Cause is where if the first object had not been, the second had not existed
I.VII.17 p.125 General ideas are the connection by resemblance to some particular
II.12 p.18 Impressions are our livelier perceptions, Ideas the less lively ones
II.12 p.145 Hume is loose when he says perceptions of different strength are different species [Reid]
II.13 p.19 We can only invent a golden mountain by combining experiences
II.13 p.19 All ideas are copies of impressions
II.14 p.19 The idea of an infinite, intelligent, wise and good God arises from augmenting the best qualities of our own minds
II.15 p.20 We cannot form the idea of something we haven't experienced
II.16 p.21 If a person had a gap in their experience of blue shades, they could imaginatively fill it in
II.17 p.22 If we suspect that a philosophical term is meaningless, we should ask what impression it derives from
III.19 p.24 All ideas are connected by Resemblance, Contiguity in time or place, and Cause and Effect
IV.I p.276 Hume says we can only know constant conjunctions, not that that's what causation IS [Strawson,G]
IV.I.20 p.25 All objects of enquiry are Relations of Ideas, or Matters of Fact
IV.I.20 p.25 Relations of ideas are known by thought, independently from the world
IV.I.22 p.26 All reasoning about facts is causal; nothing else goes beyond memory and senses
IV.I.23 p.27 No causes can be known a priori, but only from experience of constant conjunctions
IV.I.23 p.27 How could Adam predict he would drown in water or burn in fire?
IV.I.26 p.30 We can discover some laws of nature, but never its ultimate principles and causes
IV.I.26 p.31 The observation of human blindness and weakness is the result of all philosophy
IV.I.27 p.31 Reason assists experience in discovering laws, and in measuring their application
IV.II.29 p.33 We assume similar secret powers behind similar experiences, such as the nourishment of bread
IV.II.29 p.212 Hume just shows induction isn't deduction [Williams,M]
IV.II.30 p.33 Reason cannot show why reliable past experience should extend to future times and remote places
IV.II.30 p.35 All experimental conclusions assume that the future will be like the past
IV.II.31 p.36 Only madmen dispute the authority of experience
IV.II.32 p.38 Induction can't prove that the future will be like the past, since induction assumes this
IV.II.33 p.39 Fools, children and animals all learn from experience
V.I.36 p.43 If we infer causes from repetition, this explains why we infer from a thousand objects what we couldn't infer from one
V.I.36 p.43 All inferences from experience are effects of custom, not reasoning
V.I.36 n.1 p.45 You couldn't reason at all if you lacked experience
V.I.37 p.46 Reasons for belief must eventually terminate in experience, or they are without foundation
V.II.39 p.48 Belief is just a particular feeling attached to ideas of objects
V.II.39 p.48 Belief can't be a concept plus an idea, or we could add the idea to fictions
V.II.40 p.49 Belief is stronger, clearer and steadier than imagination
V.II.41 p.51 A picture of a friend strengthens our idea of him, by resemblance
V.II.41 p.231 Hume does not distinguish real resemblances among degrees of resemblance [Shoemaker]
V.II.42 p.52 When I am close to (contiguous with) home, I feel its presence more nearly
V.II.43 p.53 An object made by a saint is the best way to produce thoughts of him
V.II.44 p.54 Beliefs are built up by resemblance, contiguity and causation
V.II.45 p.55 Our awareness of patterns of causation is too important to be left to slow and uncertain reasoning
VI.46 p.56 There is no such thing as chance
VI.47 p.58 We transfer the frequency of past observations to our future predictions
VII p.214 Hume never even suggests that there is no such thing as causation [Strawson,G]
VII.I.49 p.62 When definitions are pushed to the limit, only experience can make them precise
VII.I.50 p.63 In observing causes we can never observe any necessary connections or binding qualities
VII.I.52 p.66 Only experience teaches us about our wills
VII.II.60 p.50 In both of Hume's definitions, causation is extrinsic to the sequence of events [Psillos]
VII.II.60 p.74 Hume's definition of cause as constantly joined thoughts can't cover undiscovered laws [Ayer]
VII.II.60 p.76 A cause is either similar events following one another, or an experience always suggesting a second experience
VIII.I.72 p.94 The doctrine of free will arises from a false sensation we have of freedom in many actions
VIII.I.73 p.95 Liberty is merely acting according to the will, which anyone can do if they are not in chains
VIII.I.76 p.98 Praise and blame can only be given if an action proceeds from a person's character and disposition
VIII.I.76 p.98 If you deny all necessity and causation, then our character is not responsible for our crime
VIII.I.76 p.99 Repentance gets rid of guilt, which shows that responsibility arose from the criminal principles in the mind
VIII.II.75 p.34 Hume makes determinism less rigid by removing the necessity from causation [Trusted]
X.i.89 p.113 We think testimony matches reality because of experience, not some a priori connection
X.I.90 p.114 A miracle violates laws which have been established by continuous unchanging experience, so should be ignored
X.I.90 p.115 All experience must be against a supposed miracle, or it wouldn't be called 'a miracle'
X.I.91 p.116 To establish a miracle the falseness of the evidence must be a greater miracle than the claimed miraculous event
X.II.92 p.116 Good testimony needs education, integrity, motive and agreement [PG]
XI.105 p.136 You can't infer the cause to be any greater than its effect
XI.114 p.147 No government has ever suffered by being too tolerant of philosophy
XI.115 p.148 It is only when two species of thing are constantly conjoined that we can infer one from the other
XI.115 p.148 If a singular effect is studied, its cause can only be inferred from the types of events involved
XII.I.116 p.150 There is no certain supreme principle, or infallible rule of inference
XII.I.117 p.151 It never occurs to people that they only experience representations, not the real objects
XII.I.117 p.151 Examples of illusion only show that sense experience needs correction by reason
XII.I.121 p.154 Reason can never show that experiences are connected to external objects
XII.I.122 p.154 If secondary qualities (e.g. hardness) are in the mind, so are primary qualities like extension
XII.II.122 p.155 We can't think about the abstract idea of triangles, but only of particular triangles
XII.II.124 p.155 It is a very extravagant aim of the sceptics to destroy reason and argument by means of reason and argument
XII.II.128 p.159 The main objection to scepticism is that no good can come of it
XII.III.129 p.161 Mitigated scepticism draws attention to the limitations of human reason, and encourages modesty
XII.III.130 p.162 Mitigated scepticism sensibly confines our enquiries to the narrow capacity of human understanding
XII.III.132 p.164 A priori it looks as if a cause could have absolutely any effect
XII.III.132 p.164 It can never be a logical contradiction to assert the non-existence of something thought to exist
XII.III.132 p.165 If books don't relate ideas or explain facts, commit them to the flames
1748 Of Miracles
p. It can't be more rational to believe in natural laws than miracles if the laws are not rational [Ishaq]
1750 Of the First Principles of Government
p.25 p.25 It is an exaggeration to say that property is the foundation of all government
p.25 p.25 There are two kinds of right - to power, and to property
1750 Of Civil Liberty
p.54 p.54 Modern monarchies are (like republics) rule by law, rather than by men
1750 Of the Origin of Government
p.28 p.28 The only purpose of government is to administer justice, which brings security
1750 That Politics may be reduced to a Science
p.14 p.14 It would be absurd if even a free constitution did not impose restraints, for the public good
p.15 p.15 Nobility either share in the power of the whole, or they compose the power of the whole
p.21 p.21 Friendship without community spirit misses out on the main part of virtue
1751 Enquiry concerning Principles of Morals
I.136 p.172 Moral philosophy aims to show us our duty
I.136 p.172 Conclusions of reason do not affect our emotions or decisions to act
I.III.145 p.183 If we all naturally had everything we could ever desire, the virtue of justice would be irrelevant
III.II.155 p.194 If you equalise possessions, people's talents will make them unequal again
III.II.157 p.196 The safety of the people is the supreme law
III.II.163 p.203 Justice only exists to support society
IX.I.217 p.269 Personal Merit is the possession of useful or agreeable mental qualities
IX.I.222 p.272 The human heart has a natural concern for public good
IX.II.228 p.279 Virtue just requires careful calculation and a preference for the greater happiness
IX.II.228 p.279 Society prefers helpful lies to harmful truth
IX.II.228 p.280 No moral theory is of any use if it doesn't serve the interests of the individual concerned
V.II.183 p.226 No one would cause pain to a complete stranger who happened to be passing
V.II.186n p.229 Nature makes private affections come first, because public concerns are spread too thinly
1751 Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Part 1 p.45 The objects of theological reasoning are too big for our minds
Part 2 p.53 We can't assume God's perfections are like our ideas or like human attributes
Part 2 p.54 Analogy suggests that God has a very great human mind
Part 2 p.54 An analogy begins to break down as soon as the two cases differ
Part 2 p.59 How can we pronounce on a whole after a brief look at a very small part?
Part 4 p.72 The thing which contains order must be God, so see God where you see order
Part 5 p.76 Why would we infer an infinite creator from a finite creation?
Part 5 p.77 From our limited view, we cannot tell if the universe is faulty
Part 5 p.77 The universe may be the result of trial-and-error
Part 5 p.105 If the divine cause is proportional to its effects, the effects are finite, so the Deity cannot be infinite
Part 5 p.106 From a ship you would judge its creator a genius, not a mere humble workman
Part 5 p.106 This excellent world may be the result of a huge sequence of trial-and-error
Part 5 p.106 Design cannot prove a unified Deity. Many men make a city, so why not many gods for a world?
Part 5 p.107 Humans renew their species sexually. If there are many gods, would they not do the same?
Part 5 p.108 This Creator god might be an infant or incompetent or senile
Part 7 p.86 Creation is more like vegetation than human art, so it won't come from reason
Part 7 p.91 Order may come from an irrational source as well as a rational one
Part 8 p.109 Events are baffling before experience, and obvious after experience
Part 8 p.109 Motion often begins in matter, with no sign of a controlling agent
Part 8 p.111 The universe could settle into superficial order, without a designer
Part 8 p.113 Ideas arise from objects, not vice versa; ideas only influence matter if they are linked
Part 9 p.95 A chain of events requires a cause for the whole as well as the parts, yet the chain is just a sum of parts
Part 9 p.95 If something must be necessary so that something exists rather than nothing, why can't the universe be necessary?
Part 9 p.95 No being's non-existence can imply a contradiction, so its existence cannot be proved a priori
Part 9 p.98 A surprise feature of all products of 9 looks like design, but is actually a necessity
1757 Of the standard of taste
p.123 Forget about beauty; just concentrate on the virtues of delicacy and discernment admired in critics [Scruton]
p.159 Strong sense, delicate sentiment, practice, comparisons, and lack of prejudice, are all needed for good taste
1775 On suicide
p.170 If suicide is wrong because only God disposes of our lives, it must also be wrong to save lives