I would like to start by stating that the arguments I will present about DavidHume’s “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” are not going to beleaning completely towards his point of view or against it due to the fact thatI agree with certain views on his philosophy and disagree with others. In “Ofthe Origin of Ideas”, Hume divides all perceptions into two basic kinds:impressions, which are the “livelier” and “more vivid” perceptions; andideas, which are “less lively” copies of the original impression. He givessome excellent analogies to back this up. For example, he says “when we thinkof a golden mountain, we only join two consistent ideas, gold, and mountain,with which we were formerly aquainted “.
I consider this point of view to becompletely logical and agree with Hume, but at the same time I’m a littleskeptic about it because he himself gives a counterexample to his own claim thatsimple ideas are always copied from impression. In the whole example ofintroducing a new shade of color, I disagree with Hume when he states that”. . . this instance is so singular, that it is scarcely worth our observing,and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim”because what if there are other instances where the same thing could happen.
Didhe have an infinite amount of time to go through all the possibilities of allthe cases that could happen in an entire lifetime or just generally in life? In”Sceptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding”, he saysthat “all reasoning about matters of fact seem to be founded on the relationof Cause and Effect” and this was something that I agreed on with him becauseif I challenge it and put it to test, it seems to work every time, but hedoesn’t stop there. He says if you agree with the cause and effect concept,then you must find out how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect. Thenhis answer to this is that you don’t know the cause and effect of an objectjust by looking at it and reasoning a priori, but solely through experience. This is yet another topic where I agree on, but am skeptic about his conclusionon it because he is basically saying that nothing should be assumed do to priorexperience and should be challenged at all times. For example, he says “Allour reasonings a priori will never be able to shew us any foundation for thispreference”, and also that “It could not, therefore, be discovered in thecause, and the first invention or conception of it, a priori, must be entirelyarbitrary”. Sure, this would probably be the best way to be certain about afactual matter, but we as humans are not immortal so I say it would be ludicrousto go on living life in this frame of mind.
I think Hume’s view on cause andeffect is similar to Descartes” view on reality because they are both superskeptic about the matter of facts, but a major difference would be that Humeactually believes in the fact once it has been challenged and Descartes woulddoubt everything even if experienced and challenged. Like Hume, Locke believedthat you are born with a blank mind and then through experiences you would gainknowledge, but there was a difference in the way each viewed this notion. Lockebelieved that an object obtained certain qualities or attributes, which werepowers and these powers would then produce the ideas. He also broke thesequalities into two types, which were primary and secondary. The primary were thesimple ideas like solidity, texture, extension, figure, and motion.
Thesecondary were not in the objects themselves, but were powers to produce color,sound, taste, and other things of the sort. This seems like a rational way tolook at how one might come to gain knowledge, but I prefer Hume’s way ofthinking a lot better. He says that we obtain all our conclusions from theprinciple of “Custom and Habit”. He describes custom as being the repetitionof any particular act or operation, which produces the tendency to start overthe same act without being influenced by reason.
In conclusion about custom, hesays, ” Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant ofevery matter of fact, beyond what is immediately present to the memory andsenses”. This is the statement I like the most because it’s how every humanbeing lives today whether they realize it or not.