Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More on Hume

So, I was talking about Hume with a professor and she said that he is sort of the wild card of the Enlightenment. I think that's sort of what threw me for a loop about him. Locke makes a similar argument, but he's pretty much just a sensationalist- he thinks that all of our ideas come from our senses. Hume takes it further, suggesting that what we perceive by our senses is largely infered- in a sense that it is a joint creation of our minds and the external world. Kant will eventually flip the script entirely in the Critique of Pure Reason, and suggest that we have no direct knowledge of things-in-themselves. So that apple you're eating? Well, you have no direct knowledge. Hume just suggests that your knowledge could be totally wrong.

But, Hume is also strange in that he's basically a 'skeptic', and yet, it's not inconcievable that he was an outright athiest. Deism is confusing in a lot of ways. But, Hume's argument that all accounts of miracles should not be believed pretty much cancels out all revelation and the resurrection of Christ. In fact, anything that suggests that Moses and Christ were anything but philosophers would be forgotten. So, there is a Christianity, but it is in no way miraculous. Also, we have no reason to believe in Heaven or Hell. Otherwise, we're fine! This reminds me of Spinoza, who claims to be purifying religious belief, but who entirely empties it of any content.

So, what to do with Hume? The easy answer is to call him a skeptic and leave it at that. But, again like Spinoza, his cheshire cat smile gleams out at us from the darkness, beckoning towards us to ask him more.

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