REVIEW STUDY QUESTIONS on DAVID HUME

1. How does Hume distinguish between impressions and ideas? (degree of vividness) What is the relation between impressions and ideas? (all simple ideas are less vivid copies of impressions)

2. What is the origin of complex ideas in the imagination to which no impression correspond (e.g. a golden mountain)? (such ideas are formed by compounding simple ideas which copy impressions which we have actually experienced)

3. What arguments does Hume give to support his claim that the mind has no simple ideas which do not copy some sense impression? (1. a challenge to produce an idea which is not so constructed from simple impressions, and 2. whenever a sense organ is absent (e.g. persons born blind or deaf) such that no impressions of a sort can be had, the corresponding ideas are equally absent from that person's understanding)

4. How does Hume use this empiricist starting point to clarify philosophical "jargon" which he suspects has no clear meaning attched to it? (analyze complex ideas into simple ideas and then show what simple impression such ideas copy)

5. What is knowledge composed of? (a) judgments of relations of ideas and b) judgments of matters of fact)

6. How are judgments of relations of ideas (analytic judgments) known? (a priori: by pure reasoning on the basis of the meanings of the relevant ideas (which themselves originate only in experience))

7. What are such judgments of relations of ideas informative about? (the relations between our "ideas," i.e. the meanings we ascribe to the terms of the judgment)

8. How can you know whether a judgment is a judgment of relations of ideas or matter of fact? (try to deny it, if the result is logically self-contradictory (i.e., logically impossible or inconceivable), then the judgment is a judgment of relations of ideas)

9. How can you know if a judgment is a judgment of matters of fact? (try to deny it, if the result is not self-contradictory (i.e., it is logically possible), then the judgment is of matters of fact)

10.How can such judgments of matters of fact be known? (experience, i.e. a posteriori or "empirically")

11. What sorts of matters of fact do we directly experience? (the testimony of our senses (impressions) or the reports of our memory (ideas), i.e. the contents of our mind or, in Hume's words, of our "understanding")

12. What about judgments concerning matters of fact that "go beyond" the testimony of senses and reports of memory, i.e. metaphysical claims concerning reality in an "external world" outside of my own mind? (Such judgments require a causal inference from the immediately known impressions to the alleged external cause of those impressions)

13. What does such a causal inference require? (knowledge of a causal principle connecting our impressions with some alleged external cause of those impressions)

14. What is a causal principle? (a judgment of the form "A causes B," which relates two "objects" (i.e. impressions) as cause and effect, such that when the effect is present one can conclude that the cause must have occurred, and when the cause is present, one can infer that the effect will occur)

15. What leads one to believe judgments which express causal principles? (since causal principles are not analytic, they can be known, if at all, only by experience)

16. What do I experience which leads me to believe such judgments? (repeated experience of A and B conjoined in time)

17. What is different about repeatedly experiencing A and B conjoined in time that was not present in the first such experience? (after the repetition we form a habit of expecting B when A appears)

18. What does such experience justify? (only that A and B have succeeded each other in time in the past)

19. What would I have to know in order to know that A causes B? (not only that they have been so connected in the past, but also that they will continue, always, to be so connected; i.e. that they are necessarily connected)

20. On what impression is this idea of "necessary connection" between cause and effect based? (the "habit" which the mind forms after repeated experience A and B following each other of expecting B when A occurs)

21. Why is this basis for the belief in a causal principle "subjective"? (because it is derived from a habit of how we think, rather than an alleged "hidden power" objectively in the cuase by which A necessarily produces B)

22. Why is such an alleged causal power "hidden" from us? (we have no experience of this "power"; all we experience is A occurring followed by B occurring)

23. What would be required to be able to infer inductively from past experience of B following A that A and B will always (necessarily) be connected, and thus to know that a particular causal principle is true? (knowledge of the principle of the uniformity of nature)

24. What is the principle of the uniformity of nature? (the future will resemble the past (i.e., if A and B have been conjoined in the past, they will necessarily continue to be so conjoined in the future))

25. Is this principle a judgment of relations of ideas such that it can be known by reason? (No, because its denial is logically possible) Can it be known by experience? (no, because we have no experience of the future)

26. Why, therefore, can no causal principle ever be known? (because we cannot know the principle of uniformity of nature) Why do we, nevertheless, believe causal principles? (because of the habit of expecting B when A occurs)

25. What is the causal inference which leads us to make judgments that go beyond our sense impressions and reports of our memory (i.e. concerning the nature of an objective "reality" outside of my own mind)? (from the impression as an effect, we infer the existence of an object outside the mind causing that impression) Is this inference sound? (no) Why? (because we cannot know the relevant causal principle, i.e., that impressions are caused by external objects)

26. Why does Hume's empiricism end in skepticism? (because we can have no knowledge of an objective reality existing "outside" or "beyond" the impressions and ideas in our "understanding" or mind; we know only our own subjective impressions and ideas)