David Hume and Empiricism (Empiricism, Empiricism)June 29, 2021
Hume says that man knows everything through perception.
According to him, perceptions arise in two ways. These; – Impressions and – Ideas (concepts and thoughts). impressions; sensations are made up of emotions. What we perceive and feel while seeing, hearing, loving or hating is included in this group. Impressions become vivid and powerful. Ideas are pale traces or copies of sensations and affects. We become aware of these when we turn to any impression and reflect on it.
The basis of everything in the mind, all impressions, concepts and thoughts, is the perception of the external world through the senses. When certain features are found in these perceptions, they are combined with each other. As a result of such combining activity, more complex ideas and information emerge.
According to Hume, there are three features that allow thoughts to be combined with each other:
1. Similarity: Accordingly, a sculpture prompts us to think about what the sculpture is made of.
2. Continuity: Accordingly, mentioning a football player in a football team makes us think about other football players.
3. Cause-effect connection: Accordingly, thinking about a surgical wound leads us to the pain behind the wound.
All our knowledge is based on the principle of causality. However, Hume argues that the causality principle cannot be grounded and known.
The causality principle argues that:
Everything has a cause, and under certain conditions the same cause always produces the same effect. Hume disagrees with this principle. According to him, in order to reach this principle, it is necessary to review every event in nature one by one and create a cause-effect chain. However, such a study is neither theoretically nor practically possible. According to Hume, the principle of causality consists of habit. For example; “Fire is the reason water boils.” we say. Again, since we always observe a successive relationship between events A and B, we believe that there is a causal relationship between these two events. However, these are not knowledge but a belief and habit.
Accordingly, Hume says that the causality principle must be a thought that is the result of experiment. In other words, causality is not a necessity, it is a habit of ours.
David Hume’s empiricism, which started with Bacon and then developed with Locke, reached its peak and greatly influenced the thinkers who came after him.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook