Philosophy Class

"The Truth will make you odd."

No room for rational thought in Hume.

I got an email from a fellow in Italy who claims I

am not fair to David Hume.  I still contend

that :  Hume's theories lead to absurdities.  His

theories are self contradictory, and his theories

lead to universal skepticism and destroy the

validity of Human Reason. 

Also he contended that the theory cause and

effect (so says Hume) is based on Induction.  I

claim the knowledge of cause and effect is in

reality based on : principle of non-contradiction

and the impossiblity of an infinite regress.  ...  





On the impossibility of the infinite regress:   click

here  :


On the principle of non-contradiction:  click

here  :


Also:  "The Problem of Induction" written by Mr.

Hayden, my late prof.

I recommend the following entertaining book:

"Socrates Meets Hume" by Peter Kreeft


I add this to prove I am not the only one who

thinks Humeanism leads necessarily to universal

skepticism, whether Hume liked it or not, or

knew it or not. (Reducio ad absurdrum)


This book is a discussion Professor Kreeft thinks

would exist were both Socrates and Hume alive

today ..  This work, written in entertaining

form, and  contains some good argumentation.


A excerpt:


"Socrates:  (to David Hume): are a

suicidal philosopher. Your philosophy was the

suicide of philosphy. If your philosphy were true,

then it would not be true, for if your philosophy

were true, then no philosphy could be true,

including yours.


Hume: Because of my skepticism?


Socrates: Yes, because of your skepticism, and

also because of this particular skeptical point,

that there is no self.  For if I were right about

philosophy, it is our response the the divine

command "Know theyself."  But if there is no

self, then there is no self to know, and we

cannot know the self and thus cannot

philosophize.  So we must conclude by

examining this most crucial point, your "bottom

line" conclusion of skepticism"


(argument between Hume and Socrates

continues in Ch. 3.)





1. The doctrine of cause and effect are behind

reasoning and without them, most of what we

ordinarily think does not make sense.


2. The philosopher David Hume said there is no

such thing as cause and effect.

He said we only see sequences of events, not

cause and effect. We sense a sequence.


3. He said we posit cause and effect because we

repeatedly see one thing follow another.

Example: Cue stick hits white ball. White ball

hits 8 ball. 8 ball goes in side pocket.


1. We say you using cue stick is cause of 8 ball

in pocket.


2. Your friends think so. You win the money they

bet on the game.


3. However, says Hume, if newly created Adam

stood there and saw the game, he wouldn't know

you caused it until he saw it over and over.


4. Just because one thing has followed another

in the past, doesn't mean it will in future.




CRITIQUE.................. ....................Those who

say Cause and Effect are real.


1. Causality (per se) is certain: based on metaphysical principle "A being cannot give what it does not have." Motion, change, are caused.

(Aristotle, Aquinas)


2.True, principle of causality is not perceived by

senses. It is a product of judgement. Judgement

is done by intellect. (Remember ideas - Ideas

are produced by intellect upon abstracting from

sense image which is of a individual, material,

and concrete being.)


Example: We see beings gaining and losing

perfections and going in and out of existence.

We apply the principle of contradiction to this

observation. (See #1)


3. We are not sensing beings only, but we are

intellectual beings.


4. Every science book is full of causality.: what is

the result of technology w/out the doctrine of

cause and effect.


5. Poison causes death. If you poison someone,

can you plead Hume's theory in court as a



There is a difference between one car following

another, (as Hume sees cause and effect,) and a

truck towing a car. (as those who believe in

cause effect)


(Is the poison the tow truck or the first car from

which others follow.?) What influence would the

car others follow have on the ones following..


6. Hume effectively denies nature. and laws of

the universe. Physical sciences are therefore

impossible. He implicitly denies principles such

as "As a being is so it acts." "Activity flows from



7. When a child burns his finger on a stove, he

does not do it again and again, so he can see if

one thing follows another. He perceives the

cause immediately and is fearful of stoves.


8. Hume denies the "self". Man, to him, is a

bundle of sensations. Hume must deny free will

as a result.


9. Reaction against Hume is existentialism which

"deified" choice. (Sartre)


10. Intelligence is the source of knowledge of

causality. Hume denies intellectual part of man.


11. His view so opposed to common sense, even

he did not practice it.


12. If you believe in Hume's theory of causality,

close down police departments. Fire all the

doctors. What else?


13. If one thing follows another as effect of

cause, we have reason to believe it will in future

with physical certainty. (There is also

metaphysical certainty.)


14. Hume contradicts himself. He seeks the

cause for the notion of cause. So he's in a logical

bind. (Dr. Michael Slattery's Critique) (Most

devastating blow to Hume's theory)..

ANSWER THIS: What kind of world would we

have if we in reality, and not just in our armchair

or philosophy class, disregard the notion of

cause and effect?



Hume finds his own theory RIDICULOUS



David Hume: Scottish , 1711 to





David Hume confesses:


"I dine, I play a game of  

backgammon, I converse, and am

happy with my friends, and when

after three or four hours of

amusement, I would return to these

speculations, they seem so cold, so

strained, and so ridiculous, that I

cannot find it in my heart to enter

into them any farther. Here, then, I

find myself absolutely and

necessarily determined to live, and

talk, and act, like other people in the

common affairs of life." (Treatise of

Human Nature, Vol. 1. p. 467. by

David Hume)


1. Hume denied the existence of

principle of causality


2. Hume denied the "self"




Other Humian doctrines which flow

from his theory of knowledge.


1. Custom: not reason is the "guide

of life"





Critique: Some critics say, :If Hume

says custom and not reason is the

guide of life, that goes with his

theory of self as non-existent.


The reason for this is : for one who

denies reason, why does he try

to use it to convice us of the truth of

his theory?


2. The philosophers stock and trade

is his reason, for he is always using

his reason to probe many problems.

How, then can he say with any

consistency that human reason is

NOT the "guide of life".


3. This type of intellectual nihilism

has lead to reactions in the history

of thought.


a. One reaction is moral "nihilism".


the doctrine that says that human

reason cannot discover what

humans "ought to do". That means

that there are no "right" or "wrong"

behaviors. (Hitler, Stalin)


b. Compare this type of idea to

Cicero on friendship, Aristotle on

moral virtue.


c. The wise one knows that we

cannot, because of limitations of the

intellect, know all truth. But some

truth can be known. And that is



d. One other reaction is that if one

cannot use reason to guide life, one

must use something else. One

solution is "feeling". The saying of

Pascal is, "The heart has reasons

that the mind does not know of."







From: A History of Philosophy Volume 5, Modern Philosophy: The British Philosophers, Part II, Berkeley to Hume, Frederick Copleston, S.J.

Read p. 95 According to Hume, therefore, 'when I am convinced of any principle, it is only an idea which strikes more strongly upon me. When I give the preference to one set of arguments above another, I do nothing but decide from my feelings concerning the superiority of their influence.' Again, 'all our reasonings concerning causes and effects are derived from nothing but custom, and belief is more properly an act of the sensitive than of the cogitative part of our natures'. How then, can we decide between rational and irrational beliefs? Hume does not appear to give any very clear and explicit answer to this question; and when he is dealing with irrational beliefs, he tends to indicate how, in his opinion, the mind works rather than to make it clear how we are to distinguish between beliefs which are rational and those which are not. But his general answer to the problem seems to be more or less this. Many beliefs are the result of 'education', and some of them are irrational."

Criticism: David Hume may decide on basis of feelings, but he has no reason to attribute that attribute to the rest of us. As for me, I try to form my beliefs on deliberation. I weigh objective evidence, pro and con a proposition, and in that way decide what I am to believe.

Hume acts as if he has used reason to come to the conclusion that he uses feelings to judge. He is self contradicting. AGAIN !

When we find a philosopher self contradicting, our dialogue with him is ALL OVER!

2 + 2 = 5 ?

Hume is even more of an idealist than Berkeley. Berkeley at least said there were minds - and that made him a realist, ontologically speaking.. Hume said there are only impressions and ideas , and that makes him an idealist., ontologically speaking. In this context ideas are states of consciousness, never of things[realism} A pure idealist denies that there are any things - only impressions and consciousness of impressiions. It's all about what you mean by the word "idealist".

Ethically idealist  means someone who seeks the good/best.

Ontologically it means someone who denies that there are any things, only minds at best, and not even then, .. In fact the most obvious case of an idealist in ethics is a criminal. He rejects rights in favour of what he wants. When Schopenhauer said, "The World is my Idea" he expresses the Mafia mentality.and George ..Orwell's Big Brother mentality "2+2=5, OR ELSE."..

Dictators like Hitler and Stalin are all idealists in this sense (Machiavelli).