Knowledge is gained only through experience, and experiences only exist in the mind as individual units of thought. This theory of knowledge belonged to David Hume, a Scottish philosopher. Hume was born on April 26, 1711, as his family’s second son. His father died when he was an infant and left his mother to care for him, his older brother, and his sister. David Hume passed through ordinary classes with great success, and found an early love for literature. He lived on his family’s estate, Ninewells, near Edinburgh. Throughout his life, literature consumed his thoughts, and his life is little more than his works. By the age of 40, David Hume had been employed twice and had failed at the family careers, business and law. Occasionally, he served on diplomatic missions in France and other countries.
Hume’s major work, A Treatise of Human Nature, was not well understood when first published, and received much criticism. The first two volumes were published in 1739, and the third in 1740. Immanuel Kant and other philosophers did notice his work and began respecting Hume for his reasoning. Later, he republished the first and third volumes as An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, and An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals in 1748 and 1751 respectively. The second volume was used as Part 2 of Four Dissertations in 1757.
“During his lifetime Hume’s reputation derived from the publication of his Political Discourses (1751) and six-volume History of England (1754-1762),” (Langley 415). David Hume discovered he was literary celebrity when visiting France in 1763. He retired to Edinburgh in 1769 and lived a happy life. He passed away August 25, 1776 and left in his will that he only wanted his name and date on his gravestone, “leaving it to posterity to add the rest,” (Langley 415).
Skepticism is the belief that people can not know the nature of things because perception reveals things not as they are, but as we experience them. In other words, knowledge is never known in truth, and humans should always question it. David Hume advanced skepticism to what he called mitigated skepticism. Mitigated skepticism was his approach to try to rid skepticism of the thoughts of human origin, and only include questions that people may begin to understand. Hume’s goal was to limit philosophical questioning to things which could be comprehended.
Empiricism states that knowledge is based on experience, so everything that is known is learned through experience, but nothing is ever truly known. David Hume called lively and strong experiences, perceptions, and less lively events,...