Hume On Empiricism
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The ultimate question that Hume seems to be seeking an answer to is that of why is that we believe what we believe. For most of us the answer is grounded in our own personal experiences and can in no way be justified by a common or worldly assumption. Our pasts, according to Hume, are reliant on some truths which we have justified according to reason, but in being a skeptic reason is hardly a solution for anything concerning our past, present or future. Our reasoning according to causality is slightly inhibited in that Hume suggests that it is not that we are not able to know anything about future events based on past experiences, but rather that we are just not rationally justified in believing those things that we do. We can most certainly make inferences based on causal reasoning, but these inferences have no proofs.
Insofar as empiricism questions all that we experience a posteriori there is no other outcome but skepticism. We must doubt all the senses as they can fool us and often times they do. Nonetheless there can be no doubt to the notion that there is some power that draws us to be skeptics or that leads us to be rational. We are both at the same time, and this, I believe, is what creates the natural balance of the universe and our lives. There is some form of harmonic coexistence within us that allows for such uncertainties to be present in our lives, but at the same time that allows us to have undeniable, justifiable [and sometimes unjustifiable] truths to which we hold onto for the explanation of things such as our very own existence. Everything we think we know is upheld only by what Descartes has taught us, the cogito. Individualistically, we have reason and we believe what we choose to believe.
On the basis of philosophy and the claims of science to know, only philosophy, in its yearning for certainty, has tried to suggest that there is such a thing as a law of cause and effect. Science rests content in making predictions based on experience without claiming any kind of certainty or privileged reasoning to back these predictions up. Hume might then also defend his own philosophy, saying that he proceeds according to a similar method. So, in the terms of causal relation, we are left with uncertainty unless we rely on these laws that describe cause and effect. And what of these laws then? How can we be so sure of the foundation of these laws, or what these laws have to offer to us? As noted earlier, philosophy falls into the category of an individualized tool, great minds think alike, but they do so one their own not dependent on one another. Science tries to posit explanations for our existence here and for the existence of everything around us. No matter how many “proofs” exist though, each has to have derived from some “thought” or “idea” that has no concreteness to it. As Hume first explains in his Enquiry, there are relations of ideas that lead us to justify certain scientific proofs empirically. Kant calls this analytic versus synthetic.
In being a naturalist, Hume relates humans as being one in the same with animals, at least when it comes to causal reasoning. We are no more reasonable than animals because the faculty of the human mind that allows us to see into the truth has arisen in us naturally. The sharp difference between humans and animals is the ability to draw on the inference of necessary connections in nature and being able to think about them. Hume does not doubt that there may exist some God with a form of discerning between right and wrong, but he denies that our ability to do so came from such a God. We know a God has to exist only as a cause of the effects we ascribe to him. Hume describes God as an “empty hypothesis” because he is used only to explain certain phenomena that we may not otherwise be able to explain. We have no direct knowledge or first hand experience of God and so we cannot give Him any qualities besides