The PREVIOUS Reading Guide
READING GUIDE: HUME'S ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
- 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?
- 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"?
- 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
- What are the ways in which ideas are associated? How do
these ways of associating ideas relate to the passions and
- 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"?
- 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
- 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"?
- 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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