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Of Mircacles Essay

805 words - 3 pages

David Hume wrote An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding in 1748 and contained in this was an essay entitled “Of Miracles”. David Hume was a Scottish Philosopher that lived in the 18th century he was born on May 7th, 1711 and would die on August 25th, 1776. He was from a philosophical school known as Empiricism, which basically means that everything originates through sense experience. He believed that everything we know ultimately started in the senses. So, in essence we learn and know everything we do via our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, and touch. This was opposed to Rationalism, which stated that we, as humans, have innate knowledge and that we use reason to discover this. Rene Descartes is a famous rationalist, whose philosophy would come under attack from Hume.
In order to truly understand the document “Of Miracles” one has to know a little bit about Empiricism and the Philosophy of David Hume. Empiricism states that everything is known through the sense. And because of this we, as humans, can never truly know much about causation. In fact, David Hume said that we can never know causation. For instance, if someone was to pick up an apple and drop it an Empiricist would say that one can never know the causal relationship between the two actions. The individual would not know if the fact that the apple dropped when he let it go was of a causal relationship, coincidental, or if there was a correlation. This means that the senses are inherently troublesome. For example, if you were to conduct and experiment of dropping the apple one hundred times the chance of that apple dropping on the one hundredth and one drop would be almost zero. This is because time is infinite, so no matter how many times you drop that apple the chance of it dropping changes little. Hume says that Humans accept the doctrine of cause and effect because without it they would literally go crazy.
The text was written during the Enlightenment where new ideas were flowing and challenging contemporary dogma. Hume’s works were no different they challenged the whole rationalist argument of innate ideas. At the same time other Philosophers were trying to make a more reason based Christianity, which was challenged by the empiricists’ skepticism. One example of this was in “Of Miracles” where Hume challenges the main...

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