2

Passage from "The immortality of the soul" by David Hume

Where any two items x and y are so closely connected that all alterations we have ever seen in x are accompanied by corresponding alterations in y, we ought to conclude—by all the rules of analogy—that when x undergoes still greater alterations, so that it is totally dissolved, a total dissolution of y will follow.

How is that scientific? Does a strong correlation between two things imply that both things are always connected?

  • Is "common sense" view about the mechanism of the world and is at the core of Hume's philosophy of cause and induction : we "perceive" strong correlations and we assume that they are the product of rules (laws of nature) that necessarily links the correlated facts. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 10 at 8:42
  • a necessity which we cannot prove i presume since it is just an assumption. so Hume's philosophy is kind of axiomatic? – Luyw Apr 10 at 9:30
  • "axiomatic" ? Every philosophy try to support some "general principles" usimg argument. Very few philosophers (see Spinoza) try to deduce them from axioms. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Apr 10 at 9:47
  • "we "perceive" strong correlations and we assume that they are the product of rules (laws of nature) that necessarily links the correlated facts." that's axiomatic as i see it – Luyw Apr 10 at 10:07
  • 1
    The quoted passage is not mathematically or scientifically accurate. If y = ax + b (a & b are constants), then changes in x are accompanied by corresponding chages in y (delta y = a*delta x), but y is not 0 when x is 0. This is the equation of numerous scientific processes. – user287279 Apr 10 at 12:04
1

Welcome to PSE.

To begin, Hume does not offer this argument from analogy as a 'proof' but only as 'strong'. Also he has in mind not a correlation merely 'strong' (or frequent) but a correlation exceptionless in experience: 'all alterations which we have ever seen in the one, are attended with proportionable alterations in the other'.

More than that, Hume is a sceptic. 'The analogy from nature' assumes not in fact his own position but that of those who believe in the uniformity of a law-governed, causally determined nature. The analogy is pressed on those who hold this view. Hume himself, in his sceptical critique of induction, takes no such view of nature - as Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, IV.14-23 makes plain.

  • Why would he target a specific audience despite potential criticism? Was he proving a point that I missed? – Luyw Apr 10 at 12:26
  • Hume is assuming a position which he believed was endorsed by science and common sense. He has in mind not so much a specific audience - or readership - as the entire generality of humankind. Hume is arguing from premises he believes to be false and drawing out consequences that, given their position, science and common sense ought to accept. – Geoffrey Thomas Apr 10 at 13:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.