Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Short Summary: David Hume and George Berkeley - History of Philosophy

David Hume (1711-1776) was an empiricist who influenced Kant. According to Hume experience is the key to life. You have two perceptions: impressions – which are immediate sensations, and ideas – memories of impressions, they are more faint. Both can be simple or complex. Hume holds that we need to purge false complex ideas. First, figure out which simple ideas go into a complex one. Question of I – a complex idea. Hume said that I(ego) is a series of impressions in perpetual flux and movement. He was an agnostic. Only experience counts, so you can’t say that a stone will always fall to the ground. For Hume, laws of nature are not really laws, until you experience the cause&effect. (He did NOT deny natural law, but said that we can’t come up with them.) Just because B follows A doesn’t mean that A caused B. According to Hume, reason does not determine what we do, our sentiments(feelings) do. It isn’t reasonable or unreasonable not to help someone in need, just unkind. You can NOT draw a conclusion from an is sentence to an ought sentence. Thus, right/wrong can not come from reason.


George Berkeley (1685-1753) was an Irish bishop who felt philosophy and science did threaten religion. He was an empiricist. According to Berkeley worldly things ARE as we perceive them. But, we do not perceive material or matter. (We can be tricked into thinking that something is hot or cold.) All ideas have a cause – a spiritual one. Only other spirits can cause ideas that make up the ‘corporeal’ world. We exist only in the mind of God. Questioned our material reality and time and space. A week or two for us isn’t the same for God.

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