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David Hume And Future Occurrences Essay

1105 words - 4 pages


     Hume asked, "what reason do we have in thinking the future will resemble the past?" It is reasonable to think that it will because there is no contradiction in supposing the future won't resemble the past. But it is also true that is possible for the world to change dramatically and our previous experience would be completely useless in judging future experience. We want to say that past experiences have been a good predictor. We are compelled to do so and it is almost as if we can't help ourselves. But we are merely stating that in the past, it has been a good predictor. Hume says we are begging the question. We are still in the past if we say that past pasts were reliable predictors of past futures.

     So we see that the past really only tells us about the past. Our real problem is does anything about the past tell us anything about the future? Hume believes that in nature, it does. He says that nature itself is uniform and constant in causing a particular effect and “no instance has ever yet been found of any failure or irregularity in the operation.” But when it does fail, it is some secret cause in the particular parts. Since we are accustomed to transferring the past into the future, we feel compelled to make these secrets understandable in order to reconcile nature and mind.

     Hume told us we have no reason to expect the past to resemble he future because of these secret causes. We are preprogrammed psychologically to use induction to function in the world. But we are really not much different than a blind man who has learned to successfully work his way around his home. It is not likely for us to stop using induction because it works in general. But we really have no real rational reason for relying on induction, even though it is psychologically natural. The blind man set out in the world is no longer able to function. He has no a priori connection in mind from two objects.

     Hume asks us then to think about instead of looking at just any pair of objects (cause and effect) that we look at pairs in which one member is a mental event such as willing our feet to move in order to get ‘over there’. We are simply considering outward events and expecting them to yield the same results as we have for induction to explain a “secret cause”. It appears as though Hume believes that the inward actions contain these variables that we have yet to understand. As we are unable to define the anomaly that foots A to B, we are simply to view it as a secret cause. It is even less clear when both objects are inward like will and thought. What is the thing that glues the two together and are the two things even that well defined.

     When A and B are one or both ambiguous, how clear can we make the connection? When we think about our inability to move all organs such as the heart with like ability as we...

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