I know Hume believes substance is an illusion based on habit but how does he arrive at this belief? Related to this what is his opinion on physical objects?

  • 1
    See Hume on substance: "According to Hume, in the Treatise, our belief in substance is the result of a mistake or illusion." – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 23 '17 at 15:53
  • But how does he arrive at that? – J.T. Kool May 23 '17 at 16:01
  • See the ref above: "Hume denies any account that postulates a unifying ‘something’ that underlies change. The crucial point is that a succession of very similar things does not constitute the real continuation of anything, only the illusion of real continuation. Thus Hume's treatment of substance is like his treatment of causation, in that he sees both as the projection onto the world of a tendency of our minds either to pass from one thing to another or to associate them in some way. " – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 24 '17 at 6:00
  • Hume may have been right about almost everything.. but he clearly had never been punched on the nose outside a nightclub in Wigan. There is nothing like a violent interaction with substance to rid you of any notion of its ephemera. – Richard May 24 '17 at 10:50

It's like this: Think of a green ball. Now, remove the color from that ball. Remove the fact that it is spherical. Remove the fact that it is made of rubber and as such bounces. Strip its qualities away from the definition and imagine only the "substance" that is left behind without qualities. That substance is undefinable, unrecognizable.

This, to Hume, summarizes why substances are an illusion or habit. We see the ball and ascribe these qualities to the definition of said ball. When we see this green, spherical construction of rubber, we think of a green ball. Habitually, we define this collection of qualities as a green ball.

Therefore, there is no substance, only a collection of qualities. Furthermore, Hume does not take a stance on physical objects. Rather he takes a stance on our belief about reality, such as gravity, even when we have no reason to have these beliefs.

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