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What was disturbing about David Hume's analysis of causation?
Hume attacked the scientific and common sense idea that there was a necessary connection between cause and effect. He argued that no matter how closely we observe one billiard ball striking another, there is nothing in the action of the first ball that makes the response of the second inevitable. Only through experience do we learn relationships of cause and effect. To say that an event of type A causes an event of type B is to say no more than that, in the past, events of type A have always been followed by events of type B. This is Hume's constant conjunction theory of causation. The mind relates causes to effects, and vice versa, based on past experience alone, which
What did Hume have to say about the self?
Hume famously denied any evidence for the existence of a self as a substance or soul. He wrote: "For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception." He went on to explain that what a person calls his or her "self is no more than a bundle or bundles of perceptions, no one of which is a direct idea of a self-thing.
produces an association of the ideas of causes and effects with each other. For example, the idea of bread is associated with the idea of nourishment.
What was Hume's problem of induction?
Hume introduced an enormous problem with how we reason from past or present to the future that still plagues philosophers of science and epistemologists today. He pointed out that no matter how comprehensive our past experience, it is never a logical contradiction to deny that the same thing which happened in the past will happen in the future. Take the idea that the Sun will rise tomorrow. Although we have always known it to rise every day, it is not a contradiction to say it won't rise tomorrow. If one objects that past experience gives us regularities between events like those that occur today and the Sun rising thereafter, Hume's response would be that we do not know that those regularities will occur in the future. To take another example, oxygen, friction, and combustible material have always resulted in fire, but maybe in the future that very combination will not be followed by fire.
Hume's problem of induction goes beyond saying that we never know enough to predict the future. His claim is that even when we do know enough to predict the future, where that knowledge has been proven in past experience, we do not know that the patterns of our experience in the future will resemble the patterns of the past. Of course, he did not disregard probability or prudence. His attack was on the notion that we can be certain about the future.
What is the big problem with Hume's reduction of the self to perceptions?
Overall, Hume saw the mind as a kind of theater stage, across which ideas pass, with each idea a separate "existence" of sense or logical relation. He did not address the implied question of whom the audience is that has access to this theater. What he was looking for and failed to find was an object of reflection that could in a unitary, distinct way, justify the term "self." He was not looking for the "reflecter," or the "I" in search of its "self." He simply assumed that this reflecter was not the self he was looking for
Did Hume believe in miracles?
Probably not, although he did not explicitly deny them. Hume's arguments were directed toward assessing the truth of reports of miracles. Such assessment would address the credibility of witnesses and the remoteness in time and distance of their accounts. Hume thought that if someone reported a miracle, we should ask this question: Which is more likely, based on everything we know about the world, that the miracle happened, or that it did not?
when one enters "most intimately into what I call myself." Another way of putting this is that Hume's analysis of the self cannot account for that process of analysis (of reflecting on one's own ideas). Hume did not take into account the fact that he was reflecting, and that the thing he was that was reflecting is what is meant by the word "self."
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