Hume Quotes

Quotes tagged as "hume" Showing 1-17 of 17
David Hume
“If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”
David Hume

David Hume
“Stercus accidit.”
David Hume

Robert G. Ingersoll
“As a rule, theologians know nothing of this world, and far less of the next; but they have the power of stating the most absurd propositions with faces solemn as stupidity touched by fear.

It is a part of their business to malign and vilify the Voltaires, Humes, Paines, Humboldts, Tyndalls, Haeckels, Darwins, Spencers, and Drapers, and to bow with uncovered heads before the murderers, adulterers, and persecutors of the world. They are, for the most part, engaged in poisoning the minds of the young, prejudicing children against science, teaching the astronomy and geology of the bible, and inducing all to desert the sublime standard of reason.”
Robert G. Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses

Anne Fadiman
“A philosophy professor at my college, whose baby became enamored of the portrait of David Hume on a Penguin paperback, had the cover laminated in plastic so her daughter could cut her teeth on the great thinker.”
Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Benjamin Franklin
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.

{Franklin's edit to the assertion in Thomas Jefferson's original wording, 'We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable' in a draft of the Declaration of Independence changes it instead into an assertion of rationality. The scientific mind of Franklin drew on the scientific determinism of Isaac Newton and the analytic empiricism of David Hume and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In what became known as 'Hume's Fork' the latters' theory distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact, and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition.}”
Benjamin Franklin

William Barrett
“David Hume, in a moment of acute skepticism, felt panicky in the solitude of his study and had to go out and join his friends in the billiard room in order to be reassured that the external world was really there.”
William Barrett, Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy

Mitch Stokes
“To question reason is to trust it.”
Mitch Stokes

Andrew Bernstein
“In the history of philosophy, the term “rationalism” has two distinct meanings. In one sense, it signifies an unbreached commitment to reasoned thought in contrast to any irrationalist rejection of the mind. In this sense, Aristotle and Ayn Rand are preeminent rationalists, opposed to any form of unreason, including faith. In a narrower sense, however, rationalism contrasts with empiricism as regards the false dichotomy between commitment to so-called “pure” reason (i.e., reason detached from perceptual reality) and an exclusive reliance on sense experience (i.e., observation without inference therefrom). Rationalism, in this sense, is a commitment to reason construed as logical deduction from non-observational starting points, and a distrust of sense experience (e.g., the method of Descartes). Empiricism, according to this mistaken dichotomy, is a belief that sense experience provides factual knowledge, but any inference beyond observation is a mere manipulation of words or verbal symbols (e.g., the approach of Hume). Both Aristotle and Ayn Rand reject such a false dichotomy between reason and sense experience; neither are rationalists in this narrow sense.

Theology is the purest expression of rationalism in the sense of proceeding by logical deduction from premises ungrounded in observable fact—deduction without reference to reality. The so-called “thinking” involved here is purely formal, observationally baseless, devoid of facts, cut off from reality. Thomas Aquinas, for example, was history’s foremost expert regarding the field of “angelology.” No one could match his “knowledge” of angels, and he devoted far more of his massive Summa Theologica to them than to physics.”
Andrew Bernstein

Jerry A. Fodor
“The sun will rise tomorrow morning; I know that perfectly well. But figuring out how I could know it is, as Hume pointed out, a bit of a puzzle.”
Jerry A. Fodor

Erasmus Darwin
“The late Mr. David Hume, in his posthumous works, places the powers of generation much above those of our boasted reason; and adds, that reason can only make a machine, as a clock or a ship, but the power of generation makes the maker of the machine; ... he concludes, that the world itself might have been generated, rather than created ; that is, it might have been gradually produced from very small beginnings, increasing by the activity of its inherent principles, rather than by a sudden evolution of the whole by the Almighty fiat.”
Erasmus Darwin

Joseph B.H. McMillan
“When Friedrich Nietzsche mocked Immanuel Kant for having "discovered a moral faculty in man", he inadvertently resolved Kant's dilemma of being unable to identify what exactly constituted his "moral law" for fear of offending against a charge of empiricism from the likes of David Hume.”
Joseph B.H. McMillan, A 'Final Theory' of God

Bertrand Russell
“It is therefore important to discover whether there is any answer to Hume within the framework of a philosophy that is wholly or mainly empirical. If not, there is no intellectual difference between sanity and insanity. The lunatic who believes that he is a poached egg is to be condemned solely on the ground that he is in a minority, or rather — since we must not assume democracy — on the ground that the government does not agree with him. This is a desperate point of view, and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it.”
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

Antony Flew
“Generations of Humeans have… been misled into offering analyses of causation and of natural law that have been far too weak because they had no basis for accepting the existence of either cause and effect or natural laws… Hume’s scepticism about cause and effect and his agnosticism about the external world are of course jettisoned the moment he leaves his study.”
Anthony Flew

Giorgio Agamben
“But the analogy is even stronger and deeper than the image of the “invisi- ble hand” allows us to infer. Didier Deleule has magisterially analyzed the link between Hume and Smith’s thought and the birth of economic liberalism. He opposes the “naturalism” of Hume and Smith to the “providentialism” of the Physiocrats who are direct tributaries, as we have seen, of a theological paradigm. To the idea of an original divine design, comparable to a project developed in the brain, Hume opposes, as we have seen, that of an absolutely immanent prin- ciple of order, which functions instead as a “stomach,” rather than as a brain. “Why,” he makes Philo ask, “can an ordered system not be woven out of a stom- ach rather than a brain”? (Deleule, pp. 259 and 305, note 30). If it is probable that the Smithian image of the invisible hand is to be understood, in this sense, as the action of an immanent principle, our reconstruction of the bipolar machineof the theological oikonomia has shown that there is no conflict between “provi- dentialism” and “naturalism” within it, because the machine functions precisely by correlating a transcendent principle with an immanent order. Just as with the Kingdom and the Government, the intradivine trinity and the economic trinity, so the “brain” and the “stomach” are nothing but two sides of the same apparatus, of the same oikonomia, within which one of the two poles can, at each turn, dominate the other.”
Giorgio Agamben, The Omnibus Homo Sacer

“What kind of person seeks to understand the origins of our universe – where no humans were present – using human sensory experiences? How irrational can you get? Your human senses and experiences can’t tell you a single thing about what caused the Big Bang. The skeptical empiricist David Hume went as far as to deny the existence of causation because he could not empirically perceive it. He would thus deny the Big Bang, and the cause of the Big Bang. When you take empiricism to its logical conclusion, you arrive at Hume’s philosophy: total nihilism and anti-knowledge, which reduces reality to whatever a human being is currently perceiving. Even what has just happened a moment before is no longer in the province of strict empiricism and can no longer constitute “knowledge.”
Thomas Stark, Extra Scientiam Nulla Salus: How Science Undermines Reason

William Poundstone
Idealism is the belief that only mind is real or knowable. Though not properly an idealist, Descartes inspired the movement. An idealist says that when you eat a chili pepper and burn your mouth, the sensations of pain or heat are indisputably real. The chili pepper itself may be an illusion: a marzipan fake doctored with Tabasco sauce, or part of a bad dream brought on by indigestion. Because pain and flavor are purely subjective, the fact of the pain or the flavor is beyond dispute. Subjective feelings transcend the physical reality of their cause.

Another example: Almost everyone has been frightened by horror movies, horror novels, and nightmares. Although it’s only a movie/story/dream, the momentary fear is real fear. Penfield’s patient J.V. was genuinely frightened by the man with the bag of snakes, even if he was (in neurological replay on the operating table) an illusion. Likewise, one cannot doubt that one is happy, sad, in love, in grief, amused, or jealous, if such mental states apply.

Subjective feelings are a very limited basis for reasoning about the external world. Descartes nevertheless believed he could deduce many significant conclusions from the fact of his own mind. From “I am,” he concluded that “God exists.” Every effect must have a cause, Descartes reasoned, and thus he must have a creator. From “God exists” Descartes jumped to “The external world exists” because, as a perfect being, God could not deceive us into believing in an illusory external world: He would not permit an evil genius.

Few modern philosophers accept this chain of reasoning. All things may seem to have a cause, but do we know this with total certainty? Again, cause and effect could be a fiction put in our minds by an evil genius.

Even allowing that there is a cause for one’s existence, it is misleading to call that cause “God.” “God” means a lot more than a cause for one’s existence. Perhaps Darwinian evolution is a cause for our existence, but that is not what most people mean by “God.” And even allowing that God exists, how do we know that He wouldn’t countenance an evil genius?

None of this means that Descartes was wrong, but only that he was not true to the spirit of his original skepticism. One of Descartes’s severest critics was Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume (1711–76).

At the height of his renown, Hume was a celebrity in London and Paris but could not teach at any university because of his outspoken atheism. For a time he made a difficult living as private tutor to the Third Marquess of Annandale, who was insane. Hume doubted every step of Descartes’s argument, even the existence of one’s own mind. Hume said that when he introspected, he always “stumbled on” ideas and sensations. Never did he find a self distinct from those thoughts.

Hume argued that there are only two types of revealed truth. There are “truths of reason,” such as 2 + 2 = 4. Then there are “matters of fact,” such as “The raven in the aviary of the Copenhagen zoo is black.” This double-pronged conception of truth is called “Hume’s fork.” A question not of either type (such as “Does the external world really exist?”) is unanswerable and meaningless, maintained Hume.”
William Poundstone, Labyrinths of Reason: Paradox, Puzzles and the Frailty of Knowledge

“Even if you magnified a human brain to the size of a house and walked through it and inspected every part of it and all of the different ways in which it functions, you would never empirically encounter mind, thought, the unconscious, consciousness, subjectivity, free will. Empiricism doesn’t prove shit. It’s total anti-knowledge. It relies on induction and inference, but, as Hume showed, induction doesn’t prove anything (a black swan can pop up at any time), and inference has no place in empiricism: if you can’t perceive it, you have no right, in empiricism, to refer to it”
David Sinclair