Gallery Guides About Me

- Brief Examination of Hume's Basic Principle -

Hume mainly held the belief that knowledge that we hold true came and can only come from experience. Though from the epistemological point of view, which is argued by most Humean's today, Hume believed that we could conceive any idea, but it is our knowledge that is limited to being derived by experience. In other words, we can conceive anything, with or without experience; it's just that Hume's would doubt the later. So, as this is the case we are lead forth into branches of this concept. However, it has been argued, ala Kant style, that there are two types of knowledge, a posteriori and a priori. That is, knowledge gained by experience and knowledge gained without experience respectively. So it might be seen of this view point of Hume's knowledge through experience, to be an attempt to meld the two concepts into better agreement. Taken semantically, Hume's concept must be taken more strictly, which does exclude all knowledge gained without experience from being meaningful.
Most of his ideas were to address the "problem of induction." That is, does induction through observation really develop true knowledge? A common example is the idea that we have observed only white swans therefore all swans must be white. But, in fact it was later discovered that there were black swans. This idea had been come to by induction, was it really that reliable of knowledge? This in its own right is quite a remarkable idea, considering it is the basis for most of the modern world. Yet, we have to admit that this is the case, though perhaps not to the extreme of all inductive knowledge being false, but at the very least some of it being doubtful.
But, Hume's takes this idea a step further. What about causality in general? That is the relationship between cause and effect. If all knowledge is gained through experiences, and all knowledge based of conclusions of causality is in effect being gained through sensory experience in an inductive manner, can we truly trust the knowledge gained? Hume argued that it is not rational to think nature to be uniform into infinite continuity, and as such, how can we make claims that are inductively derived from experience which may fluctuate? However, couldn't it can be argued that as long as nature is uniform within certain bounds (meaning fluctuations occur in the uniformity, but only within a percentage of error), we can then agree with Hume that indeed it is irrational to make such claims of constant uniformity, but still make use of those inductive truths? This would at least be from the point of causality being weakened by the idea of fluctuating uniformity.
Both of these two main ideas are quite intriguing, and difficult to argue against. However, we must also look at the examples around us. Given that the majority of the modern world is based on this concept for causality by inductive reasoning with the assumption of a continually uniform world, and the fact that it has worked, we must doubt the near absolute nature of Hume's argument. Sure, nature may not be one hundred percent uniform, but for most of the cases I feel the conclusions are accurate enough to be useful. So, at least for me, taking into consideration some level of error, the issue is put to rest.

All Content Copyright Jarrod Christman - 2015