Phl 302
Dr Uzgalis
Winter 1996





The PREVIOUS Reading Guide

READING GUIDE: HUME'S ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING

  1. What is moral philosophy and what are the two different ways of treating it? How do these two kinds of philosophical approaches relate to the development of human character? What can be pleaded on behalf of "metaphysics"? What objections are raised against it?

  2. What relation do questions about human nature and its powers and capacities have to do with the debate about the value of abstract philosophy? What other benefits are there from "an accurate scrutiny into the powers and faculties of human nature"? What does Hume think of the possibility of discovering, "at least in some degree, the secret springs and principles by which the human mind is actuated in its operations"?

  3. What is the distinction between "ideas" and "impressions"? Hume claims that while the power of thought seems to possess unbounded liberty, "we shall find upon a nearer examination that it is confined within very narrow limits". What are these limits? And what are Hume's arguments to show that the mind is so confined?

  4. What are the ways in which ideas are associated? How do these ways of associating ideas relate to the passions and imagination?

  5. Into what two kinds can all the objects of human reason or inquiry be divided? Why does Hume think it may be of interest to inquire what is "the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matters of fact beyond the present testimony of our senses or the records of our memory"?

  6. The evidence of matters of fact depend on our knowledge of cause and effect. How do we attain our knowledge of cause and effect? Why is it that Hume claims that "the most perfect philosophy of the natural kind only staves off our ignorance a little longer..."?

  7. Our knowledge of cause and effect depends on experience. What, then, is the foundation of all our conclusions from experience? Why does Hume claim that "even after we have experience of the operations of cause and effect, our conclusions from that experience are not founded on reasoning or on any process of the understanding"?

  8. What is Hume's attitude towards Academic Skepticism? Does he think such skepticism undermines the reasoning of common life and that its doubts might 'destroy all action as well as speculation"? Why not? What role does habit play in our arriving at conclusions from experience?


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