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Hume, Enquiry Human Understand > Hume, Resources

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments There are numerous resources about Hume generally and about the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding in general. Post those which you have found helpful, or which you have reason to expect will be of high quality.

There are several online copies of the Enquiry. Gutenberg.org has one, of course. This site, davidhume.org, has the text here in an attractive presentation
http://www.davidhume.org/texts/ehu.html
which has section and page numbers by each page, such as E 2.3 for section 2 page 3, which might be useful for identifying the source of quotes.

The site also has other information on Hume which I haven't explored yet.

Peter Millikan of Oxford University has posted the lectures from his first year course on general philosophy on Youtube, which includes several lectures on Hume. The first of those, which I found interesting though not specifically on the Enquiry, can be found at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6SYJ...


message 2: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments oh, everyman! thank you, thank you, thank you! what a gift you have given us. An oxford university course on Hume to watch and listen to as we read! Now i have hope!


message 3: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments i have just watched, on book tv, Lisa Barrett discuss her new book, How Emotions are Made. It sounded like straight Hume to me and for the life of me I could not figure out anything new from her talk. She said neurons fire when they see an apple. I suppose using the word neuron or using imaging technology makes it sound new
but I just kept wondering if shed read Hume. If anyone else saw it Id love to hear your reaction. Hume sounds smarter all the time!


message 4: by Nemo (last edited Jun 25, 2017 09:40PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Everyman wrote: "..Peter Millikan of Oxford University has posted the lectures from his first year course on general philosophy on Youtube.."

When I followed that link to YouTube, I stumbled upon a video of Milican arguing "God does NOT exist" at Oxford Union. No surprise there, but the lack of philosophical depth in his arguments was rather disappointing. I had expected more from a philosopher of his calibre.


message 5: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments Nemo wrote: "Everyman wrote: "..Peter Millikan of Oxford University has posted the lectures from his first year course on general philosophy on Youtube.."

When I followed that link to YouTube, I stumbled upon ..."


was he explaining the thoughts of another philosopher?


message 6: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Patrice wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Everyman wrote: "..Peter Millikan of Oxford University has posted the lectures from his first year course on general philosophy on Youtube.."

When I followed that link to YouTube, I s..."


He didn't quote other philosophers for and against the motion that God exists. He said that his purpose was to dissuade people from believing, and I suspect explaining other philosophers would not help his case.

Here is the 20min video, if you are interested.


message 7: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments ugh, another Dawson.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Patrice wrote: "ugh, another Dawson."

Well, he's really a Hume scholar, not a theologian. As Nemo says, should have stuck to what he knows.


message 9: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments Everyman wrote: "Patrice wrote: "ugh, another Dawson."

Well, he's really a Hume scholar, not a theologian. As Nemo says, should have stuck to what he knows."


It may be time for me to butt in regarding "what he knows." I kind of listened to his Hume lectures while doing other stuff, but if he said what I think he said, that non-Euclidean geometry and Einstein's relativity were two 20th C developments that tended to disprove Kant and vindicate Hume, well, that's a view which strikes me as "insular," to say the least.


message 10: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments as a Hume scholar he should have remembered this line speaking of metaphysics...a fruitless effort of human vanity, which would penetrate
into subjects utterly inaccessible to human understanding.


message 11: by David (new)

David | 1335 comments Christopher wrote: "I think he said, that non-Euclidean geometry and Einstein's relativity were two 20th C developments that tended to disprove Kant and vindicate Hume, well, that's a view which strikes me as "insular," to say the least. "

I am not sure what you mean by insular, but I am currently listening to The Great Courses: Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It by Professor Steven L. Goldman.

According to this course, Kant put himself on a crusade to defend Newtonian Physics and disprove Hume's skepticism by showing that knowledge of experience was universal, necessary and certain. Kant's claim rested on several premises, most relevant here are that Euclidean geometry is the only possible way to conceptualize space and that it, and infalliable mathematics as a way to describe the universe were deemed synthetic a priori judgements. To him, these judgements entailed that Newtonian physics is universally, necessarily, and certain true because it expresses the way the mind works.

The discoveries of Non-Euclidean geometry, Quantum Physics, and quotes like this from Albert Einstein, As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. (Geometry and Experience, January 27, 1921) wiped out Kant's Idealistic premises leaving Hume's skepticism.


message 12: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Patrice wrote: "as a Hume scholar he should have remembered this line speaking of metaphysics...a fruitless effort of human vanity, which would penetrate into subjects utterly inaccessible to human understanding."

Did Hume say that?

I'm not sure what the difference is between "metaphysics" and "philosophy". They both deal with abstract concepts. Sometimes I think they are both inaccessible to human understanding. If such pursuit is fruitless and vain, philosophers, including Hume himself, are fools to spend their lives thinking and writing about it.


message 13: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments its a direct quote from the bottom of page 5 of my edition. it made me think of that utube you posted with the professor explaining how god does not exist. very vain in my eyes.

i understand what you are saying, and i would not be the least bit surprised if i misunderstood the quote. it was surprising. but the way i took it, as an empiricist, he is saying it is fruitless to try to understand what we cant. we must work up from experience not down from ideas.


message 14: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments David wrote: The discoveries of Non-Euclidean geometry, Quantum Physics, and quotes like this from Albert Einstein, As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. (Geometry and Experience, January 27, 1921) wiped out Kant's Idealistic premises leaving Hume's skepticism.

Well, that Einstein quote is actually closer to Kant's position than to Hume's.

I am not that good at stating things in my own words, but here is a clip from an online article about Ernst Cassirer:

Cassirer begins by discussing the problem of concept formation, and by criticizing, in particular, the “abstractionist” theory characteristic of philosophical empiricism, according to which general concepts are arrived at by ascending inductively from sensory particulars. This theory, for Cassirer, is an artifact of traditional Aristotelian logic; and his main idea, accordingly, is that developments in modern formal logic (the mathematical theory of relations) allows us definitively to reject such abstractionism (and thus philosophical empiricism) on behalf of the genetic conception of knowledge. In particular, the modern axiomatic conception of mathematics, as exemplified especially in Richard Dedekind's work on the foundations of arithmetic and David Hilbert's work on the foundations of geometry, has shown that mathematics itself has a purely formal and ideal, and thus entirely non-sensible meaning. Pure mathematics describes abstract “systems of order” — what we would now call relational structures — whose concepts can in no way be accommodated within abstractionist or inductivist philosophical empiricism.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ca...


message 15: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments mathematics is abstract but science works from both abstraction and empiricism. why must it be one or the other? we can have an idea but we must prove it to be true. or we make observations and derive an idea. Einstein's theories had mathematical proofs, and many years later, physical proofs. top down, bottom up.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Patrice wrote: "mathematics is abstract..."

Not sure why you say this. Take one stone, put another stone next to it, you have two stones. What's abstract about that?


message 17: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments you know, i'm glad you said that! in my kant class everyone tried to convince me that kant's thinking was mathematical ie abstract. i kept arguing that abstractions are taken from real world experience. No one agreed and one very bright math major, graduate of the Kellogg school of business, made a convincing argument, at least it convinced everyone else. at the end a classmate said, she really understood kant, ie i didn't. lol. guess i got convinced. but really i know you are right. these things don't come out of nowhere! yet this is part of what we will struggle with, with Hume isn't it?


message 18: by Kerstin (last edited Jun 27, 2017 12:27PM) (new)

Kerstin | 329 comments Nemo wrote: "I'm not sure what the difference is between "metaphysics" and "philosophy". They both deal with abstract concepts. Sometimes I think they are both inaccessible to human understanding. If such pursuit is fruitless and vain, philosophers, including Hume himself, are fools to spend their lives thinking and writing about it."

LOL!


message 19: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) An easy and engaging introduction to Hume is also provided by the In Our Time podcast by Radio 4. I don't know what accessibility to this is like outside the UK though.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015cpfp


message 20: by Nemo (last edited Jun 27, 2017 01:01PM) (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Everyman wrote: "Patrice wrote: "mathematics is abstract..."

Not sure why you say this. Take one stone, put another stone next to it, you have two stones. What's abstract about that?"


What do you mean by stone? :)

If we define abstract as that which is not perceived by the senses. Then "stone" is abstract. We perceive shape, colour and roughness, and we group these sensory info together and give it the abstract name "stone". Other languages have different names that correspond to the same thing, but it is not directly perceived by our senses.


message 21: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments lol


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Nemo wrote: "What do you mean by stone? :)"

Something that your head is apparently stuffed with if you don't now what they are. [g]


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments Everyman wrote: "Nemo wrote: "What do you mean by stone? :)"

Something that your head is apparently stuffed with if you don't now what they are. [g]"


And what do we mean by two?

Let's see, when was it that the mathematical system of numbers embraced the concept of "zero" and incorporated it into its notations?


message 24: by Lily (last edited Jun 29, 2017 08:54PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments "Nemo wrote: "What do you mean by stone? :)"

Nemo -- why, of course, the British unit of measure, the one equivalent to 14 pounds! (Smile?)


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments @12Nemo wrote: ",,,If such pursuit is fruitless and vain, philosophers, including Hume himself, are fools to spend their lives thinking and writing about it. ..."

Well, I rather suspect humankind has more than once drastically changed the globe by pursuits that are "fruitless and vain." A priori knowledge can be as elusive as Hume's skepticism of the predictability of tomorrow based on today.


message 26: by Lily (last edited Jun 29, 2017 09:57PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments Christopher wrote: "...genetic conception of knowledge ..."

Thanks for the link to the Stanford article on Cassirer. I've been through it a couple of times and still have huge gaps in understanding, not the least of which is the phrase I pulled out above. Although I have not yet fit Cassirer into the web of the great Western "conversation" to which we so often allude, I am not yet convinced that what he says is in contradiction to Hume's formulation that ideas are derived from impressions. While mathematical systems may have reality and truth and validity independent of impressions, might they not still depend on humankind's impressions for their conceptualization, even though any eventual evolved connections may be tenuous at most and even severed (e.g., by the adoption/exploration of assumptions contradictory to impressions)? Simplest example: replacement of Euclidean assumptions about parallel lines. Or presumption of multi-dimensional space.


message 27: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments I hate trying to state these things in my own words, but here we go:

Non-euclidean geometry and sub atomic physics are not empiricist conclusions. Mathematicians try crazy thought experiments (I do believe the first non-euclidean guy was trying to "prove" Euclid's axioms by showing the absurdity of denying them)...

The point is, a purely mental exercise is, lo and behold, found to explain "the physical world" years after, or decades after they were "thought experiments."

Is this a refutation of Kant and vindication of Hume? Not at all. What Hume thinks is a non-issue, and Kant tried to "solve."- Why does the physical world correspond to our "pure mathematics"? Our abstract geometry?


message 28: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Lily wrote: "..." A priori knowledge can be as elusive as Hume's skepticism of the predictability of tomorrow based on today ..."

Hume attempts to demonstrate the limitations of human understanding, that is, what we cannot know. I thought that was fruitless and vain in itself. But then, Kant seems to be arguing the same in his Critiqueof Pure Reason.

I hope we do a group read of the Critique soon. There are enough people in this group interested in Kant to have a lively discussion.


message 29: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments Nemo wrote: I hope we do a group read of the Critique soon. There are enough people in this group interested in Kant to have a lively discussion.

I think the Prolegomena to any future metaphysics... , despite the mouthful of a title, would be the best introduction to Kant.


message 30: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Christopher wrote: "Nemo wrote: I hope we do a group read of the Critique soon. There are enough people in this group interested in Kant to have a lively discussion.

I think the Prolegomena to any future metaphysics..."


Yes, I suggest that the Prolegomena be added to our group shelf. Everyman?


message 31: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Nemo wrote: "Yes, I suggest that the Prolegomena be added to our group shelf. Everyman? ."

It has been added. If it does come up, good luck getting the group to vote for it!


message 32: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments lol! i have never heard of it before!


message 33: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments The Prolegomena was recommended to me by a philosophy professor. Think of it as Kant's accessible summary of his (abstruse) works. :)


message 34: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Everyman wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Yes, I suggest that the Prolegomena be added to our group shelf. Everyman? ."

It has been added. If it does come up, good luck getting the group to vote for it!"


Stranger things have happened. I never thought the group would vote for Hume. But here we are.

Kant is writing in response to Hume. If we think of the Western Canon as a Great Conversation, the conversation between Hume and Kant is one of the most interesting.


message 35: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments Christopher wrote: "Non-euclidean geometry and sub atomic physics are not empiricist conclusions. ..."

I would quite agree that non-euclidean geometry is not an empiricist "conclusion." But why say that for sub-atomic physics?

I am among those that considers it one of the marvels of human thought that "pure thought" or mathematical exercises can send humans searching for empirical evidence -- and vice versa.


message 36: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments Looking ahead, I see that section 3 is only one page.
Surely it doesn't need its own thread.


message 37: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "Looking ahead, I see that section 3 is only one page.
Surely it doesn't need its own thread."


Any section that begins "It is evident ..." surely deserves its own thread to discuss whether it really IS evident. There are people here I could name but won't who almost instinctively challenge any statement beginning "It is evident..." with all sorts of arguments why it is most decidedly NOT evident. It seems to me that they should have a chance to air their objections without intruding on other sections of the work. N'est-ce pas?


message 38: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "Looking ahead, I see that section 3 is only one page.
Surely it doesn't need its own thread."

Any section that begins "It is evident ..." surely deserves its own thread to disc..."


Wait, is there something "meta" about this? I say "surely it doesn't," and you say surely it does? Could we start a thread on whether a one page section deserves a thread?


message 39: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Hume took a swipe at Locke a few times in his treatise. They both write about what they think is "evident", but what is evident to Locke is not to Hume and vice versa.

Why not combine sections 3 and 4 into one thread? Their contents are connected anyway.


message 40: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments Nemo wrote: "Hume took a swipe at Locke a few times in his treatise. They both write about what they think is "evident", but what is evident to Locke is not to Hume and vice versa.

Why not combine sections 3 ..."

I second that motion. All in favor say aye.


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Nemo wrote: "Why not combine sections 3 and 4 into one thread?"

For a very practical reason: I have already written separate introductory posts to the two threads which it would be more work to combine than I consider worth it.


message 42: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (nemoslibrary) | 2456 comments Everyman wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Why not combine sections 3 and 4 into one thread?"

For a very practical reason: I have already written separate introductory posts to the two threads which it would be more work to co..."


I'm looking forward to reading them. :)


message 43: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 340 comments I started reading T. H. Huxley's book on Hume (English Men of Letters). His first two chapters are on his life and career. After the failure of his Treatise, he put out a series of Essays which were very successful.

I thought this quote was pertinent:

If we reflect that the following passage of the same essay was written nearly a century and a half ago, [now more like 275 years ago], it would seem that whatever other changes may have taken place, political warfare remains in statu quo:—

"Those who either attack or defend a minister in such a government as ours, where the utmost liberty is allowed, always carry matters to an extreme, and exaggerate his merit or demerit with regard to the public. His enemies are sure to charge him with the greatest enormities, both in domestic and foreign management; and there is no meanness or crime, of which, in their judgment, he is not capable. Unnecessary wars, scandalous treaties, profusion of public treasure, oppressive taxes, every kind of maladministration is ascribed to him. To aggravate the charge, his pernicious conduct, it is said, will extend its baneful influence even to posterity, by undermining the best constitution in the world, and disordering that wise system of laws, institutions, and customs, by which our ancestors, during so many centuries, have been so happily governed. He is not only a wicked minister in himself, but has removed every security provided against wicked ministers for the future.

"On the other hand, the partisans of the minister make his panegyric rise as high as the accusation against him, and celebrate his wise, steady, and moderate conduct in every part of his administration. The honour and interest of the nation supported abroad, public credit maintained at home, persecution restrained, faction subdued: the merit of all these blessings is ascribed solely to the minister. At the same time, he crowns all his other merits by a religious care of the best government in the world, which he has preserved in all its parts, and has transmitted entire, to be the happiness and security of the latest posterity."—(III. 26.)

[end quote. If Hume is referring to anyone in particular, it is probably Robert Walpole.]


message 44: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Christopher wrote: "I thought this quote was pertinent:."

You could probably find an equivalent passage from almost any Western culture. Certainly Caesar had both his passionate admirers and passionate detractors.


message 45: by Lily (last edited Jul 05, 2017 10:38PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments Everyman wrote: "Christopher wrote: "I thought this quote was pertinent:."

You could probably find an equivalent passage from almost any Western culture. Certainly Caesar had both his passionate admirers and passi..."


Do I sense an inherent or instinctive disparagement of Hume in what you write here in our current discussions, Eman? If so, does any of it extend back to your encounters with him at St. John's or can you otherwise identify their source in your journey among the great conversations? Somehow, it has felt to this reader somewhat different than your posts on the likes of the Greek ancients, but perhaps my misinterpretation.


message 46: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzd7R...

This is probably relevant to our discussion here, but I don't know how to "draw straight lines" between Hume (impressions) and Daniel Tammet (visual synesthesia).


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Lily wrote: "Do I sense an inherent or instinctive disparagement of Hume in what you write here in our current discussions, Eman? "

I don't intend to disparage him. But I'm not sure I understand his arguments, and I have an instinctive "hang on there" response to anybody who says complex ideas are evident, or of no doubt, or such. I want argument and evidence, not just assertion, and I'm not finding as much of that in Hume as I would like to.


message 48: by Patrice (new)

Patrice | 69 comments there is a fabulous review of the book by Manny, a man who worked in artificial intelligence. its the first review.


message 49: by Lily (last edited Jul 13, 2017 09:44AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments Patrice wrote: "there is a fabulous review of the book by Manny, a man who worked in artificial intelligence. its the first review."

Which book, Patrice? If it is on Goodreads, not all of us see reviews in the same order, but you can click on the date on the right, pull up the review itself, and have a link that can be shared with others.


message 50: by Lily (last edited Jul 13, 2017 09:54AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 4444 comments @43Christopher wrote: "If Hume is referring to anyone in particular, it is probably Robert Walpole. ..."

For others, like myself, who did not recognize the name "Robert Walpole": "Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG, KB, PC, known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain." Wikipedia
b. 1676 d. 1745 68 yrs. old

"Today often viewed as the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole was described by contemporary opponents as the ‘Screen-Master General’, adept at pulling all the political strings.

"He was First Lord of the Treasury for over twenty years, an unusually long period in office by any standard. During this time he played an important role in restoring government credit after the the South Sea Bubble financial crisis."

https://www.gov.uk/government/history...

Thanks for the quotation from Hume, Christopher.


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