[hist-analytic] Hume Is Where The Heart Is

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Thu Feb 11 17:32:35 EST 2010

On Tuesday 09 Feb 2010 20:12, Jlsperanza at aol.com wrote:

> While the phenomenalism (empiricist) thing concerned Hume, he was possibly
> thinking that 'cause' -- qua _term_ is misleading in that it infuses our
> talk  with an animistic ring to it, which is _NOT_ what a physicist is
> thinking when  he uses 'cause'. But then Heisenberg and his indeterminacy
>  destroyed the last  hope?

My take on Hume is that his reservations are more basic than that.
He reasons very "logically" about cause, and (at least in the enquiry) his 
primary aim is to insist that the supposed necessity of a causal connection
is illusory.

This is directly connected to the conception of necessity which he identifies
in Hume's fork, which is what we call logical necessity or analyticity (yes 
Hume does appear to identify these even though he does have the word), and 
Hume does not seem even to consider the possibility that the supposed 
necessity of causal relationship involves some weaker kind of necessity.
To this he adds the implicit premise that if this kind of necessity is not 
present then nor is knowledge (for the thing we might infer because we
think it causes our sensory impressions is not actually a necessary
precondition, and therefore might not be, and therefore cannot be known
to be.

This is a purely logical argument, and since Hume is persuaded by it he
has no need even to consider any subtleties there might be in the meaning
of "cause".  He just latches on the supposed necessity of the connection
and that's good enough for his scepticism.


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