26 Apr 2017

Luhtala (CBS) On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, collected brief summaries

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index tabs are found at the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Stoicism, entry directory]

[Anneli Luhtala, entry directory]

[Luhtala, Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, entry directory]

 

 

 

Collected brief summaries of

 

Anneli Luhtala

 

On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic

 

Ch.5 The Stoics

 

5.0 [introductory material]

 

There are three major Stoic philosophers: Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus. Zeno was influenced by the Cynics, Crates, Xenocrates, and the Megarian dialecticians. Cleanthes had some interest in logic. But Chrysippus made an enormous contribution to Stoic logic. Yet, some other Stoics stood against the study of logic.

 

 

5.1 The Unity of Stoic Philosophy

 

Stoic philosophy is composed of a unified system where its three main branches – ethics, logic, and physics – are of equal priority in the system itself. They are all concerned with logos or reason, and more specifically with consequence, understood physically, logically, or ethically. Nonetheless, the Stoics thought that logic should be learned first.

 

 

5.2 Chrysippus, the Founder of Stoic Logic

 

Chrysippus’ great contribution to Stoic logic is of notable historical importance. He thought logic was the means by which all other studies can be conducted.

 

 

5.3 Sources

 

There are no original sources of Stoic logic, and the second-hand sources are often unreliable.

 

 

5.4 Evaluation

 

Stoic logic did not catch on, partly due to its focus on linguistics. It was overshadowed by Peripatetic logic until the 20th century. Only recently has it gained the respect and attention it deserves.

 

 

5.5 Stoic Logic

 

 

5.5.0 [introductory material on Stoic logic]

 

The Stoics regarded logic as being comprised of rhetoric and dialectic. Rhetoric deals with continuous speech, while dialectic deals with argument by means of question and answer. Logic and all its many subtopics are matters of logos / λόγος (reason, speech), which is the rational principle of causality in the cosmos and of right human action. Logos is also speech, and since humans have “internal speech”, they can think rationally about the logical sequence of things. Truth is a matter of correspondence between a statement, made on the basis of our “rational impressions,” and some specific event happening in the world. The Stoics in fact did not consider universals to be real things, and thus their logic was concerned primarily with particulars and almost never with universals, as in Aristotle’s logic.

 

 

5.5.1 Rational Impressions

 

We obtain rational impressions (λογικὴ φαντασία) from real situations in the world [which operates according to reason (λόγος)] leaving impressions (φαντασίαι) on the leading part of our soul (ἡγεμονικόν). The situation in the world has some rational sense to it, which is its “sayable” (λεκτόν). The same sayable corresponds to our rational impression, and that sayable can be rendered into a linguistic utterance, taking the form of a proposition, whose syntactical structure is isomorphic to the conceptual structure of the sayable.

 

 

5.5.2 The Components of Expression (Σημαίνοντα) and Meaning (Σημαινόμενα)

 

Stoic dialectic has two parts. Generally speaking, there is a part that lies on the level of language itself and a part that deals more with the conceptual meanings the language expresses. Specifically, the two parts are: {1} “expression,” equivalent to σημαίνοντα (that which signifies), to φωναι (vocal sounds), and to λέξις (word), and {2} “meaning” or “sayables,” equivalent to σημαινόμενα (that which is signified, meaning), and to λεκτά (sayables). The study of expression examines a heterogeneous set of related issues, including written utterances, parts of speech, poetry, definitions, and other various topics. The study of meaning, however, examines a more homogeneous set of logical sorts of issues, like propositions, sense (sayables), predicates, genera and species, arguments, and states of affairs. With regard to expression, ὄνομα means ‘noun’ and ῥῆμα means ‘verb’. With regard to meaning, these terms correspond with πτῶσις (case) and κατηγόρημα (predicate), respectively. Simple parts of speech, like nouns or verbs alone, are not able to take on truth values. This is only possible for sayables, which can be articulated in a propositional formulation, and thus truth and falsity are also matters of syntax, which is the meaningful combination of parts of speech. So “Dion” does not express a sayable, and it cannot be either true or false; however, “Dion walks” does and can, because its syntax allows it to represent a state of affairs in the world. Regarding the articulation of meaning, we arrange the relevant concepts in an order going from the most to the least conforming to the rational organization of the world. The world itself operates rationally, on account of its rational principle, λόγος. States of affairs (πράγματα) in the world thus have a rational sense to them, which is their sayable (λεκτόν). The verbal articulation that can adequately express the λόγος of the λεκτόν and thus of the πράγματα is also called a λόγος, but this time meaning an intelligible, articulate sentence. A step down from that is a λέξις, which is an articulate sound that might not even be intelligible, as with the famous example of “blituri”. Next down is  a φωνή, which is a sound that may not even be articulate (that is, might not even resemble a word with composite letters or phonetics).  There are two related sorts of speech acts: προφέρεσθαι (uttering), which is associated with the linguistic item φωναί (vocal sounds), and {2} λέγειν (speaking), which is assocated with πράγματα (states of affairs) and thus also with λεκτά (sayables). As we noted, while λέξις can represent a word for a real thing, it lacks the syntactical powers to represent a state of affairs. This is because real situations in the world have certain ontological properties that require more sophisticated syntactical mechanisms to be expressed. For example, the relation between a thing and its properties cannot be represented simply in a word but rather requires a syntax with a subject-predicate structure. Now, the sense of a state of affairs as the sayable (λεκτόν) is something incorporeal. However, as soon as it is vocally articulated into a propositional sentence, it has thereby taken on a corporeal form, because speech is corporeal, as it produces effects in the world. There is still another terminological distinction that divides meaning and expression into three units: 1} a corporeal sound (φωνήν), which is a signifier (σημαῖνον) {2} the corporeal sound’s ‘signification’ (σημαινόμενον), which lies in the intellect and is a matter of the sayable (λεκτόν) and is thus incorporeal, and {3} the referent (τυγχάνον), which is the physical object in the world corresponding to the signification and is thus corporeal.

 

 

5.5.3 Parts of Speech 

 

The Stoic’s identified five parts of speech: {1} ὄνομα (proper noun), {2} προσηγορία (common noun), {3} ῥῆμα (verb), {4} σύνδεσμοσ (conjunction), and {5} ἄρθρον (pronoun). By distinguishing proper noun, common noun, and pronoun, the Stoics were able to analyze propositions in terms of degrees of definiteness of the reference to the subject. A name or proper noun (ὄνομα) signifies an individual quality, for example, “Diogenes,” “Socrates.” A common noun (προσηγορία) signifies a common quality, for example “man” and “horse.”  A verb (ῥῆμα) signifies a simple predicate attaching to a subject, for example, “I write” and “I speak”. And a pronoun points out a mere substance. The definition of the verb is special among the parts of speech, because it refers to the syntactical role the part plays. [The nominal parts make no reference to how that part relates to the other parts so to form a larger sentential unit with complex meaning, while the verb does do that, because it is said to attach to a subject.] For the subject to play a syntactical role and not just a grammatical one, that is, for it to designate a part of the proposition rather than simply a part of speech, it needs to be inflected, and thus its syntactical role is a matter of case (πτῶσις). Since the nominal parts refer to physical things in the world, they have a corporeal reference, but since verbs do not refer to physical things, they have an incorporeal reference. Substances and qualities belong to the four Stoic categories or genera: {1} ὑποχείμενον (substance / substrate), {2} ποιόν (quality / qualified), {3} πως ἔχον (disposition / disposed), and {4} πρός τί πως ἔχον (relative disposition / relatively disposed). For something to belong to the first Stoic category, ὑποχείμενον (substance / substrate) simply means for it to have the attribute of existing as a material object, without mention of its own qualities. Substance mixes with qualities, which are air currents and which, as corporeal, affect the substance. There are two stages to a substance being qualified: commonly and peculiarly.  Commonly qualified substance corresponds to the common noun, peculiarly qualified substance corresponds to the proper noun, and mere (unqualified) substance, although an impossibility in actuality, corresponds to the pronoun. Some confusions can result from the Stoic’s notion of the corporeality of verbal expressions. Since as expression as  physical event is corporeal, and since what it stands for is corporeal, we might regard the two corporeal bodies as the same thing, as with Chrysippus’s claim that when we say “wagon,” an actual wagon passes through our lips. Parts of speech serve their representational function either by pointing out or showing their reference (δηλοῦν) or by signifying it (σημαίνειν). Verbs signify either their predicate or something about the subject. Proper nouns and pronouns point out an individual quality. However, common nouns signify common qualities. They do not point out their reference, like proper nouns and pronouns do, because common nouns are not specific like these others are. Nouns and verbs, in their raw form [undeclined and infinitive] are mere parts of speech, and they do not refer to components of meaning in a proposition. However, when they are combined and modified such that the nouns have case and the verbs have finite conjugation, then they have syntactical relations and thus can refer to parts of a proposition’s meaning. Nouns, when declined, refer both to a corporeal reality, namely, the substance or quality, and to an incorporeal reality, namely, the specific subject of a proposition. Verbs, however, do not refer to any corporeal reality but only to the incorporeal meaning or sayable of the proposition’s predicate.

 photo Table 1 and 2 p.85_zpsrriq4kpf.jpg

 

 

5.5.4.0 The Component of Meaning (Σημαινόμενα)

 

For the Stoics, meaning (σημαινόμενα) is a matter of the sayable (λεκτόν). The sayable is the incorporeal, rational component of some situation in the world, that is to say, it is a state of affairs. Also, it is the propositional sense of a statement expressing that state of affairs, taking the form of either a full proposition with both a subject and a predicate or a bare predicate without a subject. There are two important definitions the Stoics give for the predicate: {1} it is a state of affairs construed around one or more subjects, or {2} it is a defective sayable which has to be joined to a nominative case in order to yield a judgement.

 

 

5.5.4.1 The Notion of Self-Sufficiency (Αὐτοτέλεια)

 

[Recall from section 5.5.4.0 that the sayable (λεκτόν) is the incorporeal, rational component of some situation in the world, that is to say, it is a state of affairs. Also, it is the propositional sense of a statement expressing that state of affairs, taking the form of either a full proposition with both a subject and a predicate or a bare predicate without a subject.] When a sayable has a propositional sense of simply a predicate (and thus it represents an incomplete thought), it is an incomplete sayable, and when the sayable has a propositional sense of both a subject and its predicate (and thus represents a complete thought), it is a complete sayable. Incomplete sayables leave a question in the hearer’s mind, while complete ones do not. For example, “Socrates writes” leaves no question, but “writes” leaves the question “who writes?”. An expression has self-sufficiency (αὐτοτέλεια) when it expresses either a complete sayable in its full subject-predicate form or when it simply refers somehow to the predicate part of a complete sayable. One way to determine if an expression is a sayable is if is sufficient (or maybe if it is simply complete). Another ways is if it truly corresponds to an actual state of affairs. Thus there is no consistent criterion for what constitutes a sayable. [Please read the quotations (at the link above), as I am quite possibly misunderstanding these distinctions.]

 

 

 

[The older entry directory for this book is here, but it links to previous versions of the summaries.]

 

 

 

Luhtala, Anneli. 2000. On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic. Münster: Nodus.

 

 

.

25 Apr 2017

Luhtala (5.5.4.1) On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, “The Notion of Self-Sufficiency (Αὐτοτέλεια)”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index tabs are found at the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Stoicism, entry directory]

[Anneli Luhtala, entry directory]

[Luhtala, Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary. It redoes this entry. All boldface and bracketed commentary are my own. Paragraph enumerations are also my own, but they follow the paragraph breaks in the text. Please forgive my distracting typos, as proofreading is incomplete.]

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Anneli Luhtala

 

On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic

 

Ch.5 The Stoics

 

5.5 Stoic Logic

 

5.5.4

The Component of Meaning (Σημαινόμενα)

 

5.5.4.1

The Notion of Self-Sufficiency (Αὐτοτέλεια)

 

 

Brief summary:

[Recall from section 5.5.4.0 that the sayable (λεκτόν) is the incorporeal, rational component of some situation in the world, that is to say, it is a state of affairs. Also, it is the propositional sense of a statement expressing that state of affairs, taking the form of either a full proposition with both a subject and a predicate or a bare predicate without a subject.] When a sayable has a propositional sense of simply a predicate (and thus it represents an incomplete thought), it is an incomplete sayable, and when the sayable has a propositional sense of both a subject and its predicate (and thus represents a complete thought), it is a complete sayable. Incomplete sayables leave a question in the hearer’s mind, while complete ones do not. For example, “Socrates writes” leaves no question, but “writes” leaves the question “who writes?”. An expression has self-sufficiency (αὐτοτέλεια) when it expresses either a complete sayable in its full subject-predicate form or when it simply refers somehow to the predicate part of a complete sayable. One way to determine if an expression is a sayable is if is sufficient (or maybe if it is simply complete). Another ways is if it truly corresponds to an actual state of affairs. Thus there is no consistent criterion for what constitutes a sayable. [Please read the quotations below, as I am quite possibly misunderstanding these distinctions.]

 

 

 

Summary

 

5.5.4.1.1

[A sayable is incomplete (and insufficient) when it is a bare predicate and it is complete (and has self-sufficiency, αὐτοτέλεια) when the predicate is joined to a subject so to form a proposition. (As well, such a complete proposition is self-sufficient).]

 

As we noted in the previous section, “A sayable (λεκτόν) can represent a complete or an incomplete thought;” but this is not something that our Stoic sources define clearly (87). We do know that predicates are the only thing that are certainly incomplete sayables. What makes a sayable incomplete, according to Diogenes Laertius, is that it “leaves a question in the mind of the hearer” (87). Thus simple predicates would be incomplete, while completed one would be a proposition. Luhtala gives this example: “an incomplete sayable consisting of the predicate only such as ‘writes’ leaves a question in the mind unless it is joined to a nominative case, e.g. ‘Socrates’. The complete sayable ‘Socrates writes’ satisfies the mind of the hearer.” [This seems similar to Frege’s notion of saturation. See “Function and Concept,” “On Concept and Object,” and “On Sense and Reference.”] [Another  important concept here is self-sufficiency, but I do not understand it. I am not sure if it is simply a matter of completeness or not. In other words, an expression or thought that is complete is sufficient and insufficient otherwise. But, Luhtala says that self-sufficiency is applied not just to propositions but also to predicates. From the wording of the last sentence, my guess is that we would say the following: a predicate that is within a proposition and taking a subject is to be understood as itself being sufficient. And if the predicate is not part of a sentence, it itself is insufficient. Please see the quote.]

Α sayable (λεκτόν) can represent a complete or an incomplete thought – a notion which is not very clearly defined in our sources. Predicates are incomplete sayables, and they figure as the only subdivision of this component. Moreover, predicates are the only items that can be regarded with any certainty as incomplete sayables. According to Diogenes Laertius, an incomplete sayable leaves a question in the mind of the hearer. He points to the incompleteness of a simple predicate, contrasting it with complete sayables, which are various kinds of propositions. For instance, an incomplete sayable consisting of the predicate only such as ‘writes’ leaves a question in the mind unless it is joined to a nominative case, e.g. ‘Socrates’. The complete sayable ‘Socrates writes’ satisfies the mind of the hearer. The notion of self-sufficiency (αὐτοτέλεια) seems to have been applied primarily to predicates and propositions while the status of the nominal part of the complete sayable remains unspecified in this respect.

(87)

 

 

5.5.4.1.2

[The Stoics had a couple consistent ways to determine if something is a sayable. {1} It is self-sufficient, that is, a competent native speaker would say that the predicate can sensibly belong to the subject, regardless of whether in fact it does, and {2} It truly corresponds to some state of affairs in the world.]

 

Luhtala next discusses the ways that the Stoics understood how the sayable is defined. [I may misunderstand this part, so after giving my interpretation, I will quote. She wrote above: “Α sayable (λεκτόν) can represent a complete or an incomplete thought – a notion which is not very clearly defined in our sources. Predicates are incomplete sayables, and they figure as the only subdivision of this component.” Perhaps we are to gather the following from it. A thought can be either complete or incomplete, and thus the sayable expressing (or corresponding to or being the same as)  the thought can be complete or incomplete. When formed in terms of a syntactical or logical structure, a bare predicate without an argument expresses an incomplete sayable, while one with an argument expresses a complete one. (I might be wrong in that interpretation, but this is what I gather so far.) Now we have the concept of “a criterion for the definition of a sayable”, but I am not sure I know what is meant by definition here. It seems simply to be whether or not an utterance can be said to be a sayable or not. From what is written, I gather there are at least two ways to make this determination. The first might be if a native speaker competent in the language of the utterance would agree that the predicate belongs to the subject (or at least could sensibly belong). The second might be whether one would assent that the proposition truly corresponds to the real states of affairs they express. Here the specificity of referentiality of the terms seems is important, with pronouns being the most specific (as compared to general nouns, but I am not sure how they compare to proper nouns, which would seem to have at least as much specificity if not more. Actually, the term Luhtala uses is “referentiality” and not specificity, so I may be misunderstanding it.) Luhtala also says that the truthfulness of the proposition (its correspondence to reality), depends on the sight of the observer (who presumably must examine the states of affairs in the world to deem the sentence truthful). Luhtala then says that this criterion of truthfulness is not compatible with the criterion for self-sufficiency. I do not follow this very well; for, I would think that to know whether a predicate belongs to a subject (does “is white” belong to “snow” in “Snow is white”?) also involves seeing if the proposition corresponds to reality (seeing if snow in fact is white). Perhaps the criteria for self-sufficiency (and thus perhaps for something being a sayable) is not a matter of whether the predicate truly belongs to the subject but whether or not the predicate in combination with its subject makes sense to a native speaker. So “snow is red” under this view is a sayable, but under the criterion of correspondence it is not. I wonder also if the distinction I should make is between a priori and a posteriori, where self-sufficiency is a matter of deducing the fittingness of the predicate to the subject on the basis of the meanings of the terms, while truthfulness is a matter of using our senses to see if the sentence corresponds to the world. At any rate, Luhtala says that there is a diversity of approaches, which means that the two criteria are incompatible, even though I can imagine them being combinable in the way I mention above where “snow is white” is said to self-sufficient because it truly corresponds to states of affairs.]

The Stoics seem to have introduced into linguistic analysis a criterion for the definition of a sayable, which relies on the competence of a (native) speaker to decide about the acceptability of a statement in | terms of its completeness. This takes place on hearing the expression. On the other hand, we know that the Stoics were keen to relate propositions to events in the real world whereby their truthfulness depended on the state of affairs being demonstrably true. In such contexts the question of lower and higher referentiality of the subject is crucial, as is the case in the Stoic discussions of simple propositions . Thus the subject position in the prototypical Stoic proposition is occupied by the pronoun, which is taken to be the most highly referential linguistic item, equalling the gesture of pointing t o the referent . Importantly, the criterion of truthfulness depends on the sight of the observer. But the criterion of self-sufficiency (αὐτοτέλεια) is surely incompatible with the strictest requirements of the truthfulness of the statement which can be proved by sight. As far as I can see, we here witness a diversity of approach within the Stoic theory.

(87-88)

 

 

 

 

From:

 

Luhtala, Anneli. 2000. On the Origin of Syntactical Description in Stoic Logic. Münster: Nodus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry redoes the one here, made a while ago:

http://piratesandrevolutionaries.blogspot.com/2009/05/stoic-logic-and-semantics-compound.html

 

 

.

19 Apr 2017

O Mayeux, '[2403] "of between us : / it was good or leather'

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Literature, Poetry, Drama, entry directory]

[Asemic Writing, entry directory]

[O Mayeux, entry directory]

 

 

 

 

O Mayeux

 

Artefacts

 

‘[2403] “of between us : / it was good or leather’

 

 

O Mayeux is a poet and linguistics scholar at the University of Cambridge. He writes poems and processes them using a software program that rearranges the typology to produce new “asemic” poems. I found his  ‘[2403] “of between us : / it was good or leather’, featured at The New Post-literate: A Gallery Of Asemic Writing, to be especially powerful when I tried reading it.

By O Mayeux. Entitled: ‘[2403] “of between us : / it was good or leather’. Part of a larger project entitled: Artefacts. photo Mayeux 2403 leather with credits.3_zps1cftcrag.jpg 

I am interested in the phenomenology of the literary experience. There is an affective element to the literary or poetic experience that may be hard to analyze on account of the complexity of the mental states. Normally our acts of literary awareness involve the conceptual and imagistic components evoked by the texts. These components can distract us from the affective element.

 

There is  a similar sort of idea in Gilles Deleuze’s treatment of Francis Bacon. Bacon writes that “the moment there are … several figures on the same canvas – the story begins to be elaborated. And the moment the story is elaborated, the boredom sets in; the story talks louder than the paint” (Bacon & Sylvester 1987: 22). When reading O Mayeux’s poem, I experienced strong affects without the distraction of other layers of my awareness. Just as the experience of Bacon’s paintings is like a phenomenological reduction to the raw experience of sensation, perhaps such asemic writing as O Mayeux’s can as well present a  phenomenological reduction to the affective components of poetic experience.

 

I invite you to try to read the poem to see if you can feel certain intensities in the sounds. It is perhaps like Deleuze’s notion of stuttering. This work  also brings out the intensities of punctuation. I find Clifford Duffy’s poems also very powerful in these ways, too. See for example his “war machine the ...” [my comments],  his “remand” and “turf” [my comments], “fantasy 2010 labour work” [my comments] and “cărbune” [my comments].

 

 

 

 

 

Works:

 

O Mayeux.  ‘[2403] “of between us : / it was good or leather’.  From Artefacts. Image taken from (and used with the author’s permission):

http://thenewpostliterate.blogspot.com.tr/2017/04/oliver-mayeux-2403-of-between-us-it-was.html

 

Also:

Bacon, Francis & David Sylvester. The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1987.

More information from the publisher here:

http://www.thamesandhudson.com/9780500274750.html

 

 

.

.

Proust (§21/23) Swann’s Way. [The narrator’s great-aunt accidentally treated M. Swann as a social equal.]

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Literature, Poetry, Drama, entry directory]

[Proust, entry directory]

[Proust. À la recherche du temps perdu, entry directory]

[Proust. Du côté de chez swann / Swann’s Way, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary, with my own bracketed comments. Proofreading is incomplete, so I apologize in advance for my distracting typos.]

 

 

 

 

Marcel Proust

 

Du côté de chez swann. À la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I

Swan's Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past

 

Première partie

Overature

 

Combray I.

 

§21/23

[The narrator’s great-aunt accidentally treated M. Swann as a social equal.]

 

 

Brief summary:

The narrator’s great-aunt was so unaware of M. Swann’s high social status that she treated him as if he were of a lower status.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

The narrator’s great-aunt was apparently unaware of M. Swann’s high social status. For, she treated him without ceremony, and she assumed he would be so flattered to dine with the narrator’s family that he would always feel obliged to bring gifts of fruit from his garden or painting reproductions from his trips to Italy.

 

 

 

From the English translation:

§23

Altogether, my aunt used to treat him with scant ceremony. Since she was of the opinion that he ought to feel flattered by our invitations, she thought it only right and proper that he should never come to see us in summer without a basket of peaches or raspberries from his garden, and that from each of his visits to Italy he should bring back some photographs of old masters for me.

 

 

From the French:

§21

Aussi, ma grand’tante en usait-elle cavalièrement avec lui. Comme elle croyait qu’il devait être flatté par nos invitations, elle trouvait tout naturel qu’il ne vînt pas nous voir l’été sans avoir à la main un panier de pêches ou de framboises de son jardin et que de chacun de ses voyages d’Italie il m’eût rapporté des photographies de chefs-d’œuvre.

 

 

 

Proust, Marcel. Du côté de chez swann. À la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I.
Available online at:
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/proust/marcel/p96d/index.html

 

Proust, Marcel. Swan’s Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past. Transl. C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
Available online at:
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/proust/marcel/p96s/index.html

 

 

.

18 Apr 2017

Proust (§20/22) Swann’s Way. [M. Swann conceals from the narrator’s family his dinner with a princess.]

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Literature, Poetry, Drama, entry directory]

[Proust, entry directory]

[Proust. À la recherche du temps perdu, entry directory]

[Proust. Du côté de chez swann / Swann’s Way, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary, with my own bracketed comments. Proofreading is incomplete, so I apologize in advance for my distracting typos.]

 

 

 

 

Marcel Proust

 

Du côté de chez swann. À la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I

Swan's Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past

 

Première partie

Overature

 

Combray I.

 

§20/22

[M. Swann conceals from the narrator’s family his dinner with a princess.]

 

 

Brief summary:

M. Swann once dined with a princess, but he concealed this fact from the narrator’s family.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

[We have  been discussing how M. Swann was secretly welcomed among high society, but he concealed this when visiting the narrator’s family, who remained completely unaware of it.] One evening Swann came from Paris. He apologized for being dressed very formally. Françoise learned from Swann’s coachman that Swann had dined with a princess. [We later learn the following about Françoise: “Françoise, my aunt’s cook who used to be put in charge of me when I was at Combray”.] Upon learning this from Françoise, the narrator’s aunt seemed unimpressed [perhaps because she did not believe it, or maybe somehow she does know. In §18/19-20 there is more on the great-aunt regarding this topic, but perhaps it is not the same aunt.]

 

 

 

From the English translation:

§22

One day when he had come to see us after dinner in Paris, and had begged pardon for being in evening clothes, Françoise, when he had gone, told us that she had got it from his coachman that he had been dining “with a princess.” “A pretty sort of princess,” drawled my aunt; “I know them,” and she shrugged her shoulders without raising her eyes from her knitting, serenely ironical.

 

 

From the French:

§20

Un jour qu’il était venu nous voir à Paris après dîner en s’excusant d’être en habit, Françoise ayant, après son départ, dit tenir du cocher qu’il avait dîné «chez une princesse» — «Oui, chez une princesse du demi-monde!» avait répondu ma tante en haussant les épaules sans lever les yeux de sur son tricot, avec une ironie sereine.

 

 

 

Proust, Marcel. Du côté de chez swann. À la recherche du temps perdu. Tome I.
Available online at:
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/proust/marcel/p96d/index.html

 

Proust, Marcel. Swan’s Way. Vol. 1 of Remembrance of Things Past. Transl. C.K. Scott Moncrieff.
Available online at:
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/proust/marcel/p96s/index.html

 

 

.

17 Apr 2017

Hume (4.2) Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, “Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding. Part II”

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[David Hume, entry directory]

[Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Nature, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary. Any boldface in quotations or bracketed commentary is my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so there are still typos present. I apologize for the distractions. Block quotations of this text are copied from the Project Gutenberg online text. Paragraph enumerations follow those of the print text.]

 

 

 

 

David Hume

 

An Enquiry concerning Human Nature

 

Section IV:

Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding

 

Part II

 

 

 

Brief summary:

We have knowledge either of {1} relations of ideas, which are logically certain (because their contraries imply contradictions), as for example mathematical equations, or we have knowledge of {2} matters of fact, which are probable, because their contraries are not contradictions, as for example ‘the sun will rise tomorrow’ (for, it is not a contradiction to think, ‘the sun will not rise tomorrow’). We trust such conclusions regarding matters of fact, because we come to have knowledge of causal relations governing such regularities. And this causal knowledge is obtainable only through experience. The basis of this kind of knowledge is the assumption that like causes produce like effects, and thus that the future will resemble the past. We once ate bread and learned it was nourishing. Then when seeing other bread-like things, we are more likely to infer they will be nourishing, with each uniform experience pushing us more toward drawing that conclusion. Suppose there really was a cognitive path going from the premises to the inductive conclusion. There would be then one form of reasoning or another that allows us to make that intermediary step. But there are only two kinds of reasoning, and neither makes this allowance. One kind is demonstrative reasoning, which concerns the relations of ideas and whose conclusions are necessary on account of the absurdity of their negations. But inductive sorts of conclusions are not logically necessary. The only other sort of reasoning is moral reasoning, which concerns matters of fact and existence. Here however the conclusions are only probable. But we cannot use moral reasoning to ground inductive reasoning, because it itself uses inductive reasoning; we cannot say that inductive reasoning can be trusted on account of it having proven to be reliable in the past, because we would be using an inductive principle for our justification, where it is that very inductive principle we are trying to find justification for. But there also is no deductive reasoning to draw these conclusions about the future. To understand why, we consider an illustration. Suppose you eat one egg. It has a certain taste. Then we eat a hundred more on other occasions, with each case giving the same taste. After that uniform series, we conclude without much hesitation upon seeing another egg that it will have that same taste. But when we ate an egg the second time, we were not nearly so quick to draw that conclusion. We instead waited to see. So were there some deductive reasoning to allow us to draw this conclusion about its taste, it would have been available to us from the first instance, allowing us to infer immediately that all forthcoming instances will be the same. And it is not enough to say that we trust them just because they are reliable enough for our practical purposes. For, this does nothing to explain the reasoning underlining how the inferences are made in the first place. One might object that this reasoning for inductive inferences exists, but we just have not found it yet. However, we can be sure that it does not exist, because creatures incapable of rational thinking (like infants and animals)  have no problems drawing such inductive inferences.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

4.2.14

[Our knowledge of matters of fact is based on knowledge of cause and effect, which in turn is based on experience. But what is the basis for reliable knowledge of experience?]

 

[In the prior section, we noted there are two sorts of objects of human reason or enquiry. The first kind are relations of ideas. They are always certain on account of logical necessity, as their negation is inconceivable. An example are mathematical formulas. The other kind are matters of fact. They are possible, and not certain, on account of their contrary claims being conceivable, as in, “the sun will rise tomorrow.” Yet we trust much of our knowledge in matters of fact. This is because we assume that they are governed by laws and relations of cause and effect, which hold consistently. We also determined that no knowledge of cause and effect can be deduced a priori but rather must be discovered by experience.] We now wonder, what is the basis for us to to draw reliable conclusions from experience?

But we have not yet attained any tolerable satisfaction with regard to the question first proposed. Each solution still gives rise to a new question as difficult as the foregoing, and leads us on to farther enquiries. When it is asked, What is the nature of all our reasonings concerning matter of fact? the proper answer seems to be, that they are founded on the relation of cause and effect. When again it is asked, What is the foundation of all our reasonings and conclusions concerning that relation? it may be replied in one word, Experience. But if we still carry on our sifting humour, and ask, What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience? this implies a new question, which may be of more difficult solution and explication. Philosophers, that give themselves airs of superior wisdom and sufficiency, have a hard task when they encounter persons of inquisitive dispositions, who push them from every corner to which they retreat, and who are sure at last to bring them to some dangerous dilemma. The best expedient to prevent this confusion, is to be modest in our pretensions; and even to discover the difficulty ourselves before it is objected to us. By this means, we may make a kind of merit of our very ignorance.

(online / 23)

 

 

 

4.2.15

[Knowledge from experience, as we will see, is not based in reasoning.]

 

Hume will not here tell us what such knowledge from experience is based on. He will only explain that we know it is not from reasoning or other cognitive processes.

I shall content myself, in this section, with an easy task, and shall pretend only to give a negative answer to the question here proposed. I say then, that, even after we have experience of the operations of cause and effect, our conclusions from that experience are not founded on reasoning, or any process of the understanding. This answer we must endeavour both to explain and to defend.

(online / 23)

 

 

4.2.16

[Our knowledge of matters of fact involves an inductive inference that things with like sensible features have like causal properties. We assume that all things looking identical to bread have similar nourishing powers. But while we can know this causal feature holds in the past occasions we experienced, it is not obvious how we can be certain about future ones. The grounds for this inductive inference are obscure.]

 

Our senses only give us superficial properties of objects, like color and weight, but they do not tell us the kinds of “powers and principles” behind the object’s causal capacities. So we might see that bread is brown and weighs some small amount, but we cannot from those data know it has the capacity to nourish a human body. And we can observe bodies moving, but we cannot see the inertia itself. However, whenever two things have the same observable features, we are quick to conclude they have the same causal powers. So when seeing something that looks identical to bread, we infer it has the same nourishing power. Now, we can be sure that in the prior and first instance that the bread was nourishing. But Hume wonders how we can infer in future instances of objects with similar features that they will be nourishing too. [For, as we noted, its nourish powers are not given in the features. So those features alone are not an adequate indication. We need some other mental operation to extend the findings of the prior instance to the future one.] Hume says there is some “medium” connecting past observations with inferences about future ones. He does not know what that is, but those who think it does exist and is the source of conclusions on matters of fact must produce it.

It must certainly be allowed, that nature has kept us at a great distance from all her secrets, and has afforded us only the knowledge of a few superficial qualities of objects; while she conceals from us those powers and principles on which the influence of those objects entirely depends. Our senses inform us of the colour, weight, and consistence of bread; but neither sense nor reason can ever inform us of those qualities which fit it for the nourishment and support of a human body. Sight or feeling conveys an idea of the actual motion of bodies; but as to that wonderful force or power, which would carry on a moving body for ever in a continued change of place, and which bodies never lose but by communicating it to others; of this we cannot form the most distant conception. But notwithstanding this ignorance of natural powers6 and principles, we always presume, when we see like sensible qualities, that they have like secret powers, and expect that effects, similar to those which we have experienced, will follow from them. If a body of like colour and consistence with that bread, which we have formerly eat, be presented to us, we make no scruple of repeating the experiment, and foresee, with certainty, like nourishment and support. Now this is a process of the mind or thought, of which I would willingly know the foundation. It is allowed on all hands that there is no known connexion between the sensible qualities and the secret powers; and consequently, that the mind is not led to form such a conclusion concerning their constant and regular conjunction, by anything which it knows of their nature. As to past Experience, it can be allowed to give direct and certain information of those precise objects only, and that precise period of time, which fell under its cognizance: but why this experience should be extended to future times, and to other objects, which for aught we know, may be only in appearance similar; this is the main question on which I would insist. The bread, which I formerly eat, nourished me; that is, a body of such sensible qualities was, at that time, endued with such secret powers: but does it follow, that other bread must also nourish me at another time, and that like sensible qualities must always be attended with like secret powers? The consequence seems nowise necessary. At least, it must be acknowledged that there is here a consequence drawn by the mind; that there is a certain step | taken; a process of thought, and an inference, which wants to be explained. These two propositions are far from being the same, I have found that such an object has always been attended with such an effect, and I foresee, that other objects, which are, in appearance, similar, will be attended with similar effects. I shall allow, if you please, that the one proposition may justly be inferred from the other: I know, in fact, that it always is inferred. But if you insist that the inference is made by a chain of reasoning, I desire you to produce that reasoning. The connexion between these propositions is not intuitive. There is required a medium, which may enable the mind to draw such an inference, if indeed it be drawn by reasoning and argument. What that medium is, I must confess, passes my comprehension; and it is incumbent on those to produce it, who assert that it really exists, and is the origin of all our conclusions concerning matter of fact.

(online / 24-25)

 

 

4.2.17

[We will examine all the branches of knowledge and see that none can ground the inductive inferences we make regarding matters of fact.]

 

[So we do not know what allows us to make the inductive inference. Hume will now delineate all the branches of knowledge to show that none allow us to make such inferences. (This will allow us to know that the inference is not based on any rational principle.)]

This negative argument must certainly, in process of time, become altogether convincing, if many penetrating and able philosophers shall turn their enquiries this way and no one be ever able to discover any connecting proposition or intermediate step, which supports the understanding in this conclusion. But as the question is yet new, every reader may not trust so far to his own penetration, as to conclude, because an argument escapes his enquiry, that therefore it does not really exist. For this reason it may be requisite to venture upon a more difficult task; and enumerating all the branches of human knowledge, endeavour to show that none of them can afford such an argument.

(online / 25)

 

 

4.2.18

[The are two kinds of reasoning: 1} demonstrative reasoning (which concerns the relations of ideas) and {2} moral reasoning (which concerns matters of fact and existence). Matters of fact do not involve demonstrative reasoning, because there is no contradiction in thinking that objects will have different properties in the future.]

 

Hume divides all sorts of reasoning into two kinds: {1} demonstrative reasoning and {2} moral reasoning. Demonstrative reasoning concerns the relations of ideas. [In the explanatory notes at the end, the editor defines demonstrative arguments in the following way.

demonstrative arguments: arguments that lead with total logical certainty from premiss(es) to conclusion, such as valid arguments in mathematics. See §10 of the Introduction, above.

(Peter Millican. “Explanatory Notes”, 191)

And from the editor’s Introduction:

Demonstrative reasoning is what can be loosely called ‘deductive’ reasoning, in which the steps of the argument proceed with absolute certainty based on the logical relations between the ideas concerned (e.g. the kind of argument used in mathematics, such as the proof of Pythagoras’ Theorem). Factual reasoning—which Hume also calls ‘moral’ and Locke had called ‘probable’—is now commonly called ‘inductive’ inference, encompassing all sorts of everyday reasoning in which we draw apparently reasonable (but less than logically certain) conclusions based on our personal experience, testimony, our understanding of how people and things behave, and so forth.

(Peter Millican. “Introduction”, xxxvii)

So inductive inference regarding matters of fact does not involve demonstrative argumentation, because the conclusions do not follow by logical necessity. This means also that the negation of the inductive inferences imply no contradiction.]

All reasonings may be divided into two kinds, namely, demonstrative reasoning, or that concerning relations of ideas, and moral reasoning, or that concerning matter of fact and existence. That there are no demonstrative arguments in the case seems evident; since it implies no contradiction that the course of nature may change, and that an object, seemingly like those which we have experienced, may be attended with different or contrary effects. May I not clearly and distinctly conceive that a body, falling from the clouds, and which, in all other respects, resembles snow, has yet the taste of salt or feeling of fire? Is there any more intelligible proposition than to affirm, that all the trees will flourish in December and January, and decay in May and June? Now whatever is intelligible, and can be distinctly conceived, implies no contradiction, and can never be proved false by any demonstrative argument or abstract reasoning priori.

(online / 25)

Moral reasoning concerns matters of fact and existence.

 

 

 

4.2.19

[Our inductive arguments about the future can only be probable. And we cannot justify this sort of reasoning by saying that we may trust them because they often prove true. For, this is using circular reasoning by employing an argument based on probability to justify arguments of this very same kind.]

 

[I am not certain, but the next points seem to be the following. Inductive arguments about the future can only have more or less probability of being true. I do not understand what is meant by “arguments concerning existence”. It is apparently an idea we already addressed, but it does not seem to simply mean an argument based on a premise saying that something exists or having a conclusion make such a claim. Maybe it means an argument dealing with an actual situation rather than a general statement of law concerning any situation. I am not sure. At any rate, an important idea here is that our inductive arguments about the future suppose that things in the future will behave like they did in the past. We then ask, how can we know this? The next point seems to be that we cannot say that we know this with the following reasoning: in the past, there was always a high probability that the future is consistent with the past. I am not certain, but the problem here might be that we are trying to justify inductive reasoning, but we cannot use inductive reasoning to do so. I am not sure that is it, because suppose we wanted to justify deductive or demonstrable reasoning. Would we have to use some other sort of reasoning to do so? Let me quote so you can see. (I find objections to circularity to be tricky to grasp straightforwardly.)]

If we be, therefore, engaged by arguments to put trust in past experience, and make it the standard of our future judgement, these arguments must be probable only, or such as regard matter of fact and real existence, according to the division above mentioned. But that there is no argument of this kind, must appear, if our explication of that species of reasoning be admitted as solid and satisfactory. We have said that all arguments concerning existence are founded on the relation of cause and effect; that our knowledge of that relation is derived entirely from experience; and that all our experimental conclusions proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past. To endeavour, therefore, the proof of this last supposition by probable arguments, or arguments regarding existence, must be evidently going in a circle, and taking that for granted, which is the very point in question.

(online / 26)

 

 

 

4.2.20

[Our inductive reasoning is based on the assumption that like causes will have like effects. But there is no act of deductive reasoning which allows us to make this conclusion. For, if it existed, we would be able to conclude all future cases of some experienced situation will have the same effects. But in fact, we first need a long series of uniform such experiences before we are inclined to draw such a conclusion.]

 

So, we trust that when causes appear similar, the effects will be similar. [I am not sure, but Hume’s next points might be the following. This is not an a priori notion. For, if it were, then we would for example upon eating an egg for the first time expect all future times to have the same taste and provide the same enjoyment. But in fact we need a long series of uniform events before we have such certainty about future cases. I do not understand the last point; maybe it is something like the following. Let me quote it first: “Now it seems evident that, if this conclusion were formed by reason, it would be as perfect at first, and upon one instance, as after ever so long a course of experience. But the case is far otherwise. Nothing so like as eggs; yet no one, on account of this appearing similarity, expects the same taste and relish in all of them. It is only after a long course of uniform experiments in any kind, that we attain a firm reliance and security with regard to a particular event. Now where is that process of reasoning which, from one instance, draws a conclusion, so different from that which it infers from a hundred instances that are nowise different from that single one? This question I propose as much for the sake of information, as with an intention of raising difficulties. I cannot find, I cannot imagine any such reasoning.” So we began by noting the first experience of eating eggs. We drew from that experience no conclusion about future such experiences of eggs. But to make this particular interpretation work, we need to think that we did draw a conclusion, namely that future instances may or may not be the same. After a hundred such experiences of eating eggs, we come to a different conclusion, which is that all future instances will be similar. (The difference being that the second conclusion has a greater degree of “certainty” that the future cases will resemble the prior ones.) Hume then wonders if there is some process of reasoning that causes us to draw the more determinate conclusion after many experiences. He says he cannot think of any. The point might be that were such reasoning available, we would have been able to draw the conclusion after the first instance. (Instead it seems that some kind of force of association alters our tendencies to draw inductive conclusions.)]

In reality, all arguments from experience are founded on the similarity which we discover among natural objects, and by which we are induced to expect effects similar to those which we have found to follow from such objects. And though none but a fool or madman will ever pretend to dispute the authority of experience, or to reject that great guide of human life, it may surely be allowed a philosopher to have so much curiosity at least as to examine the principle of human nature, which gives this mighty authority to experience, and makes us draw advantage from that similarity which nature has placed among different objects. From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects. This is the sum of all our experimental conclusions. Now it seems evident that, if this conclusion were formed by reason, it would be as perfect at first, and upon one instance, as after ever so long a course of experience. But the case is far otherwise. Nothing so like as eggs; yet no one, on account of this appearing similarity, expects the same taste and relish in all of them. It is only after a long course of uniform experiments in any kind, that we attain a firm reliance and security with regard to a particular event. Now where is that process of reasoning which, from one instance, draws a conclusion, so different from that which it infers from a hundred instances that are nowise different from that single one? This question I propose as much for the sake of information, as with an intention of raising difficulties. I cannot find, I cannot imagine any such reasoning. But I keep my mind still open to instruction, if any one will vouchsafe to bestow it on me.

(online / 26)

 

 

 

4.2.21

[How can we be sure that like causes will have like effects and thus that the future will resemble the past? We cannot. We can only trust inductive conclusions for practical reasons. But there is no reasoning that will take us from the premises to the inductive conclusion.]

 

If we just say that we infer the inductive conclusion, then we still need to explain [what interposing ideas allow us to move from premises to conclusion, as there is no necessary connection between them.] This inference is neither intuitive [as it not immediately apparent but only so after much repetition, perhaps] and it is not demonstrative [as it does not follow by necessity from the premises].  But of what nature is this inference that the future will resemble the past? [It is not enough to say that it is based on experience, because nothing prevents us from experiencing something different in the future.] [And again, we cannot say that inductive inference is reliable by pointing to its reliability in the past, because we are using the same point to conclude the same point, namely, that a uniformity of outcome is enough to predict future uniform outcomes.] [I do not follow the next points well. Maybe they are the following. Hume has us assume that all events up to now have been uniform. Nonetheless, on that basis alone, we cannot conclude they will remain uniform in the future. Hume says that the causal properties of objects might change. (He even says this happens sometimes for some objects, but he does not give more specifics.) Hume then notes that we cannot be protected from this possibility. Perhaps we might reply that our experiences are so consistent that they are worthy of trust. Hume it seems is acknowledging that for practical purposes we can have this trust. (So for example we can set our clocks at night expecting the sun will rise tomorrow.) But as philosophers, we demand more than a practical justification for certainty in our knowledge. (If really there are grounds to draw these inferences, rather than mere practical conveniences for doings so, we can still as philosophers demand to know what they are. To think of this another way, science, which uses this sort of inductive reasoning about the future to make predictions, can claim that for all practical purposes we can expect things to be the same in the future. We see this sort of defense from Richard Dawkins when he says, “It works, bitches” when facing the same philosophical challenge to inductive knowledge. But this means that science cannot make claims of truth. We cannot say these inferences are “true” but only that for practical purposes we will trust them.)]

Should it be said that, from a number of uniform experiments, we infer a connexion between the sensible qualities and the secret powers; this, I must confess, seems the same difficulty, couched in different terms. The question still recurs, on what process of argument this inference is founded? Where is the medium, the interposing ideas, which join propositions so very wide of each other? It is confessed that the colour, consistence, and other sensible qualities of bread appear not, of themselves, to have any connexion with the secret powers of nourishment and support. For otherwise we could infer these secret powers from the first appearance of these sensible qualities, without the aid of experience; contrary to the sentiment of all philosophers, and contrary to plain matter of fact. Here, then, is our natural state of ignorance with regard to the powers and influence of all objects. How is this remedied by experience? It only shows us a number of uniform effects, resulting from certain objects, and teaches us that those particular objects, at that particular time, were endowed with such powers and forces. When a new object, endowed with similar sensible qualities, is produced, we expect similar powers and forces, and look for a like effect. From a body of like colour and consistence with bread we expect like nourishment and support. But this surely is a step or progress of the mind, which wants to be explained. When a man says, I have found, in all past instances, such sensible qualities conjoined with such secret powers: And when he says, Similar sensible qualities will always be conjoined with similar secret powers, he is not guilty of a tautology, nor are these propositions in any respect the same. You say that the one proposition is an inference from the other. But you must confess that the inference is not intuitive; neither is it demonstrative: Of what nature is it, then? To say it is experimental, is begging the question. For all inferences from experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the past, and that similar powers will be conjoined with similar sensible qualities. If there be any suspicion that the course of nature may change, and that the past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless, and can give rise to no inference or conclusion. It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future; since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular; that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that, for the future, it will continue so. In vain do you pretend to | have learned the nature of bodies from your past experience. Their secret nature, and consequently all their effects and influence, may change, without any change in their sensible qualities. This happens sometimes, and with regard to some objects: Why may it not happen always, and with regard to all objects? What logic, what process of argument secures you against this supposition? My practice, you say, refutes my doubts. But you mistake the purport of my question. As an agent, I am quite satisfied in the point; but as a philosopher, who has some share of curiosity, I will not say scepticism, I want to learn the foundation of this inference. No reading, no enquiry has yet been able to remove my difficulty, or give me satisfaction in a matter of such importance. Can I do better than propose the difficulty to the public, even though, perhaps, I have small hopes of obtaining a solution? We shall at least, by this means, be sensible of our ignorance, if we do not augment our knowledge.

(online / 27-28)

 

 

4.2.22

[It could be that the rational justification for inductive inference exists but that we have not found it yet.]

 

[Hume then acknowledges that he might have simply failed to find the rational justification for inductive conclusions. He also notes that just because no one in the past has provided this reasoning, we cannot conclude that none exists. However, Hume still thinks we can be more or less sure of this in this case.]

I must confess that a man is guilty of unpardonable arrogance who concludes, because an argument has escaped his own investigation, that therefore it does not really exist. I must also confess that, though all the learned, for several ages, should have employed themselves in fruitless search upon any subject, it may still, perhaps, be rash to conclude positively that the subject must, therefore, pass all human comprehension. Even though we examine all the sources of our knowledge, and conclude them unfit for such a subject, there may still remain a suspicion, that the enumeration is not complete, or the examination not accurate. But with regard to the present subject, there are some considerations which seem to remove all this accusation of arrogance or suspicion of mistake.

(online / 28)

 

 

 

4.2.23

[We can be sure that is no rational justification for inductive inferences, because creatures incapable of rational thinking (like infants and animals)  have no problems drawing such inductive inferences.]

 

[We can know that there is no logical reasoning behind inductive inference, because creatures that have no capacity for reasoning still draw these “inferences”. Children, for example, learn from pain, like learning to keep their hands away from candles after once burning their hands on a candle flame. Hume then goes through possible responses. If we say the child draws this conclusion from some sort of argumentational or logical thinking, then we need to state that reasoning. Presumably we cannot produce it, perhaps because there is no such logical reasoning that we would ascribe to an infant (who has yet to learn language or how to correctly draw logical inferences). We also may not say that the argument cannot be given on account of it being very complicated or difficult, because then an infant would be incapable of conceiving it. The next response might be the following, but I am unsure. Suppose that we take a long while to produce the reasoning that the child used. This shows that we are wrong, perhaps because the child draws the inference instantly and not after much reflection. Hume says that if he is right that inductive inference is not rationally justifiable, than he has not made a great discovery. Perhaps this is his characteristic modesty, here based on the idea that he has only proved a negative and not discovered something positive. He then very cleverly says, “if I be wrong, I must acknowledge myself to be indeed a very backward scholar; since I cannot now discover an argument which, it seems, was perfectly familiar to me long before I was out of my cradle.” He is saying that probably his is right about this, because were he wrong, then he should be able to know something that was obvious to him since the time he was infant.]

It is certain that the most ignorant and stupid peasants—nay infants, nay even brute beasts—improve by experience, and learn the qualities of natural objects, by observing the effects which result from them. When a child has felt the sensation of pain from touching the flame of a candle, he will be careful not to put his hand near any candle; but will expect a similar effect from a cause which is similar in its sensible qualities and appearance. If you assert, therefore, that the understanding of the child is led into this conclusion by any process of argument or ratiocination, I may justly require you to produce that argument; nor have you any pretence to refuse so equitable a demand. You cannot say that the argument is abstruse, and may possibly escape your enquiry; since you confess that it is obvious to the capacity of | a mere infant. If you hesitate, therefore, a moment, or if, after reflection, you produce any intricate or profound argument, you, in a manner, give up the question, and confess that it is not reasoning which engages us to suppose the past resembling the future, and to expect similar effects from causes which are, to appearance, similar. This is the proposition which I intended to enforce in the present section. If I be right, I pretend not to have made any mighty discovery. And if I be wrong, I must acknowledge myself to be indeed a very backward scholar; since I cannot now discover an argument which, it seems, was perfectly familiar to me long before I was out of my cradle.

(online / 28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

From:

Hume, David. 2007. An Enquiry concerning Human Nature. Peter Millican (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University.

Text available online at:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9662

PDF available at:

https://archive.org/details/enquiryconcernin00humeuoft

 

 

Or if otherwise noted:

Peter Millican. “Introduction.” In [see above].

Peter Millican. “Explanatory Notes.” In [see above].

 

 

 

 

 

.

Hume (4.1) Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, “Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding. Part I”

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[David Hume, entry directory]

[Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Nature, entry directory]

 

[The following is summary. Any boldface in quotations or bracketed commentary is my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so there are still typos present. I apologize for the distractions. Block quotations of this text are copied from the Project Gutenberg online text.]

 

 

 

 

David Hume

 

An Enquiry concerning Human Nature

 

Section IV:

Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding

 

Part I

 

 

 

Brief summary:

There are two sorts of objects of human reason or enquiry; 1) relations of ideas, which are certain on account of logical necessity, for example, “that three times five is equal to half of thirty” is consistent with the meanings of its terms and operators, but its negation is unconceivable for that reason also; and 2) matters of fact, which are possible, because their contraries are conceivable and are thus possible; for example: “the sun will rise tomorrow” is thinkable, but so is its contrary, “the sun will not rise tomorrow”; hence these claims are possible rather than certain. But we have much knowledge of matters of fact, and we often trust it to high degrees. We do so, because we assume there are causal relations that govern such events now and consistently in the future. All such knowledge of matters of fact, which include laws of physics, cannot be deduced a priori and thus is only gained by experience. Suppose you have had no experiences of certain sorts of objects before. Upon first seeing one, you would not be able to deduce what sorts of effects it will have upon other objects nor how other objects have some effect on it or are able to bring it about in the first place. We can only learn such things from experience. For example, upon first being shown a lodestone, we would not be able to deduce that it has magnetic interactions with other objects. It is only because we are so familiar with many objects that we mistakenly think that we can deduce their causal properties a priori. The reason we cannot make such deductions is that effects are completely different from causes, and they are not logically implied in the causes in a straightforward way. So suppose now that we have a collision of bodies, and we want to predict the effects on the basis of the physical causes. But suppose also that we are not allowed to appeal to prior observations. This means we can only imagine the effect. But what we imagine is arbitrary, as we can easily imagine opposite effects; for, the effects are not implied in the causes. Moreover, we can imagine different effects for various instances of the same situation rather than the same effect each time. Our knowledge of causality is always limited to our given spatial and temporal orientation. So we cannot broaden our knowledge to more ultimate causes holding universally. Also, the application of mathematics and geometry will not allow us to deduce a priori the effects of certain physical situations. This is because we cannot deduce a priori the laws of physics, which are required for applying our mathematical and geometrical tools when calculating outcomes.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

4.1.1

[There are two objects of human reasoning or enquiry: 1) relations of ideas, which are logical certain (their contrary claims are contradictions), and include for example mathematical formulas; and 2) matters of fact.]

 

Human reason or enquiry has objects of examination. Of these there are two types:

1) Relations of Ideas, and

2) Matters of Fact.

Relations of ideas include geometrical, algebraic, and arithmetic objects. Relations of ideas also include any affirmation that is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. [I suppose an affirmation is to be understood perhaps as something like a proposition or statement or the like. One which is demonstrably certain I would think is one which has a proof for it. I am less certain what makes something intuitively certain, but it might be that it is immediately apparent to our sensory observation, or as he puts it in the Treatise of Human Nature, that it is “discoverable at first sight”. Let me quote from Book I, Part III, Section 1, Paragraphs 2–5. (p.70 or §§162-165 (1.3.1.2-5) in the summary.

It appears, therefore, that of these seven philosophical relations, there remain only four, which depending solely upon ideas, can be the objects of knowledge said certainty. These four are RESEMBLANCE, CONTRARIETY, DEGREES IN QUALITY, and PROPORTIONS IN QUANTITY OR NUMBER. Three of these relations are discoverable at first sight, and fall more properly under the province of intuition than demonstration. When any objects resemble each other, the resemblance will at first strike the eve, or rather the mind; and seldom requires a second examination. The case is the same with contrariety, and with the degrees of any quality. No one can once doubt but existence and non-existence destroy each other, and are perfectly incompatible and contrary. And though it be impossible to judge exactly of the degrees of any quality, such as colour, taste, heat, cold, when the difference betwixt them is very small: yet it is easy to decide, that any of them is superior or inferior to another, when their difference is considerable. And this decision we always pronounce at first sight, without any enquiry or reasoning.

We might proceed, after the same manner, in fixing the proportions of quantity or number, and might at one view observe a superiority or inferiority betwixt any numbers, or figures; especially where the difference is very great and remarkable. As to equality or any exact proportion, we can only guess at it from a single consideration; except in very short numbers, or very limited portions of extension; which are comprehended in an instant, and where we perceive an impossibility of falling into any considerable error. In all other cases we must settle the proportions with some liberty, or proceed in a more artificial manner.

I have already I observed, that geometry, or the art, by which we fix the proportions of figures; though it much excels both in universality and exactness, the loose judgments of | the senses and imagination; yet never attains a perfect precision and exactness. It’s first principles are still drawn from the general appearance of the objects; and that appearance can never afford us any security, when we examine, the prodigious minuteness of which nature is susceptible. Our ideas seem to give a perfect assurance, that no two right lines can have a common segment; but if we consider these ideas, we shall find, that they always suppose a sensible inclination of the two lines, and that where the angle they form is extremely small, we have no standard of a right line so precise as to assure us of the truth of this proposition. It is the same case with most of the primary decisions of the mathematics.

There remain, therefore, algebra and arithmetic as the only sciences, in which we can carry on a chain of reasoning to any degree of intricacy, and yet preserve a perfect exactness and certainty. We are possest of a precise standard, by which we can judge of the equality and proportion of numbers; and according as they correspond or not to that standard, we determine their relations, without any possibility of error. When two numbers are so combined, as that the one has always an unite answering to every unite of the other, we pronounce them equal; and it is for want of such a standard of equality in extension, that geometry can scarce be esteemed a perfect and infallible science.

(Hume, Treatise, p.70-71)

But we need to distinguish intuitively certain relations of ideas from matters of fact. Perhaps intuitive certainty here is not an issue of sensory observation necessarily but is rather a matter of the knowledge of the relation being obtained immediately on account of its obviousness. So, what we know by demonstration requires steps in reasoning, but what we know by intuition is immediately obvious.] Hume gives some examples of relations of ideas. [It seems they are demonstrably certain, and it seems his point here is to emphasize that their certainty is of the sort that no existing thing could challenge them.] These examples are mathematical equations where the relations between the terms are certain.

All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times five is equal to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid would for ever retain their certainty and evidence.

(online text, or Hume 18)

 

 

4.1.2

[Matters of fact are possible rather than certain, because their contrary claims are not contradictions, as for example, “the sun will rise tomorrow”.]

 

The other kind of objects of human reason or enquiry are matters of fact. [First consider something like the above examples of relations of ideas: 2+2=4. It would be a contradiction to say: 2+2≠4.  We cannot even conceptualize what it means, given that its meaning could not be consistent with the meanings of its terms and operators. Now consider the sentence, “the sun will rise tomorrow”. This we can conceptualize. Also consider its negation, “the sun will not rise tomorrow.” This we can conceptualize also. In other words, the contrary of such a proposition is conceivable, and thus in a sense possible.]

Matters of fact, which are the second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so conformable to reality. That the sun will not rise to-morrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation, that it will rise. We should in vain, therefore, attempt to demonstrate its falsehood. Were it demonstratively false, it would imply a contradiction, and could never be distinctly conceived by the mind.

(online or 18)

 

 

4.1.3

[We will now ask how we come to trust matters of fact even though they are only possible.]

 

[I am not entirely certain about the points in this paragraph, but they might be the following. First suppose it is dawn and you see the sun rising. We note that “the sun is rising”. I am not sure if this is an intuitively certain relation of ideas. But at any rate, our example of matters of fact is the claim that the sun will rise tomorrow. What Hume might here be asking is, how can we be relatively sure of the truth of such claims? We have memories of past sunrises and sensory evidence of the current one, but how do then draw the inference that tomorrow it will rise? My guess is that his next point is that by trying to answer this question, we might find that philosophy has been in error regarding such knowledge, and also that it might do philosophy good to try to rectify such errors. I quote for your interpretation.]

It may, therefore, be a subject worthy of curiosity, to enquire what is the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the records of our memory. This part of philosophy, it is observable, has been little cultivated, either by the ancients or moderns; and therefore our doubts and errors, in the prosecution of so important an enquiry, may be the more excusable; while we march through such difficult | paths without any guide or direction. They may even prove useful, by exciting curiosity, and destroying that implicit faith and security, which is the bane of all reasoning and free enquiry. The discovery of defects in the common philosophy, if any such there be, will not, I presume, be a discouragement, but rather an incitement, as is usual, to attempt something more full and satisfactory than has yet been proposed to the public.

(online / 18-19)

 

 

4.1.4

[We draw such inductive inferences under assumptions of causal relations that must be holding.]

 

[I again am not certain here, but the points might be the following. All such reasonings of matters of fact involve the assumption that there are (physical) causal reasons for why the inference holds. Perhaps in the sunrise example, we assume that there are astrological causes for why it happens. This would seem to be like his example here of finding a watch on a deserted island and concluding once humans had been there. For, their presence would cause there to be such evidence. He says in these cases it is “constantly supposed, that there is a connexion between the present fact and that which is inferred from it”. I am not sure if it is necessarily physical causality. In the first example, a man infers that his friend is somewhere else on the basis of certain facts, like finding a letter from the friend indicating her absence or remembering the friend’s intentions to go somewhere. This evidence could be physically tied to the friend’s absence, act of leaving, or resolve to leave, but maybe Hume means by cause and effect something more like certain indicators causing one’s inference, which would then be the effect of that cause of knowledge. Let me quote, but I am inclined to think he means a physical cause for the evidence rather than the evidence causing the knowledge:]

All reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of Cause and Effect. By means of that relation alone we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses. If you were to ask a man, why he believes any matter of fact, which is absent; for instance, that his friend is in the country, or in France; he would give you a reason; and this reason would be some other fact; as a letter received from him, or the knowledge of his former resolutions and promises. A man finding a watch or any other machine in a desert island, would conclude that there had once been men in that island. All our reasonings concerning fact are of the same nature. And here it is constantly supposed that there is a connexion between the present fact and that which is inferred from it. Were there nothing to bind them together, the inference would be entirely precarious. The hearing of an articulate voice and rational discourse in the dark assures us of the presence of some person: Why? because these are the effects of the human make and fabric, and closely connected with it. If we anatomize all the other reasonings of this nature, we shall find that they are founded on the relation of cause and effect, and that this relation is either near or remote, direct or collateral. Heat and light are collateral effects of fire, and the one effect may justly be inferred from the other.

(online / 19)

 

 

 

4.1.5

[If we base our trust in matters of fact on cause and effect, then we need to know how we obtain knowledge of cause and effect.]

 

We must determine how we gain knowledge of cause and effect in order to know why we can trust matters of fact, which are grounded in causal relations.

If we would satisfy ourselves, therefore, concerning the nature of that evidence, which assures us of matters of fact, we must enquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect.

(online / 19)

 

 

4.1.6

[We never obtain knowledge of the causes of some object or its effects, upon our first experience of such a thing. Thus causal knowledge is not a priori.]

 

Knowledge of causality cannot be obtained a priori. This is evident from the fact that upon first seeing some sort of object the likes of we have never experienced before, we cannot discern the causes bringing it about or the effects it can have.

I shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition, which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori; but arises entirely from experience, when we find that any particular objects are constantly conjoined with each other. Let an object be presented to a man of ever so strong natural reason and abilities; if that object be entirely new to him, he will not be able, by the most accurate examination of its sensible qualities, to discover any of its causes or effects. Adam, though | his rational faculties be supposed, at the very first, entirely perfect, could not have inferred from the fluidity and transparency of water that it would suffocate him, or from the light and warmth of fire that it would consume him. No object ever discovers, by the qualities which appear to the senses, either the causes which produced it, or the effects which will arise from it; nor can our reason, unassisted by experience, ever draw any inference concerning real existence and matter of fact.

(online / 19-20)

 

 

4.1.7

[There are many examples where the only way we can obtain knowledge of causes and effects for some thing is by experiences with it. We can only know the way a magnet causes certain movements only by seeing its attractional behaviors.]

 

[Hume will now give examples for sorts of causal relations that can only be discovered by experience and thus are not a priori. I am not sure, but the first one might be something like the following. We have two polished slabs of marble. We affix one atop the other. I am not sure if we use something to bind them or not. We find that it is easier to separate them by applying pressure parallel to the surfaces that meet than by applying pressure down upon the pieces, perpendicular to those meeting surfaces. In other words, the slabs are more apt to slide past one another when the pressure follows the plane of separation. I am guessing. The other examples are that we cannot know that gunpowder is explosive until we see how it reacts to ignition, and we cannot know that a material is magnetic until we see its attractional behaviors. Or at least, we cannot deduce these properties a priori. I am not sure about his next point, but it might be the following. Some of our causal knowledge involves complicated systems, like the bodies of humans and animals. We know that bread or milk is good for humans but not for lions, but this knowledge we could only have obtained from experience. For, the systems are so complex that we cannot understand their workings in perfect detail, and instead we must experiment with them.]

This proposition, that causes and effects are discoverable, not by reason but by experience, will readily be admitted with regard to such objects, as we remember to have once been altogether unknown to us; since we must be conscious of the utter inability, which we then lay under, of foretelling what would arise from them. Present two smooth pieces of marble to a man who has no tincture of natural philosophy; he will never discover that they will adhere together in such a manner as to require great force to separate them in a direct line, while they make so small a resistance to a lateral pressure. Such events, as bear little analogy to the common course of nature, are also readily confessed to be known only by experience; nor does any man imagine that the explosion of gunpowder, or the attraction of a loadstone, could ever be discovered by arguments a priori. In like manner, when an effect is supposed to depend upon an intricate machinery or secret structure of parts, we make no difficulty in attributing all our knowledge of it to experience. Who will assert that he can give the ultimate reason, why milk or bread is proper nourishment for a man, not for a lion or a tiger?

(online / 20)

 

 

 

4.1.8

[It is only because of our deep familiarity with the workings of many things that we might mistakenly think that we can deduce causal relations like the transfer of motion without ever first witnessing such events.]

 

We have become so familiar with the workings of many things that we mistakenly conclude that we would have been able to deduce for example “one Billiard-ball would communicate motion to another upon impulse; and that we needed not to have waited for the event, in order to pronounce with certainty concerning it”:

But the same truth may not appear, at first sight, to have the same evidence with regard to events, which have become familiar to us from our first appearance in the world, which bear a close analogy to the whole course of nature, and which are supposed to depend on the simple qualities of objects, without any secret structure of parts. We are apt to imagine that we could discover these effects by the mere operation of our reason, without experience. We fancy, that were we brought on a sudden into this world, we could at first have inferred that one Billiard-ball would communicate motion to another upon impulse; and that we needed not to have waited for the event, in order to pronounce with certainty concerning it. Such is the influence of custom, that, where it is strongest, it not only covers our natural ignorance, but even conceals itself, and seems not to take place, merely because it is found in the highest degree.

(online / 20)

 

 

4.1.9

[We cannot know the causes and effects of objects, and thus we cannot know any of the laws of nature or the workings of physical objects, except by experience. This is because effects are totally different from their causes and cannot be deduced from them.]

 

Hume will now convince us that all knowledge of the laws of nature and the workings of physical objects can only come from experience. We first suppose that we are to explain the effects that some object will cause. But we are not allowed to consult any past experiences with it. Our only other recourse then is to invent or imagine an event where the object exhibits its effect. But, there is a problem with this approach. [The reasoning might be the following. An effect follows directly from its cause. But the effect is completely different than its cause, so much so, that there is nothing conceptually inherent to the cause that implies with any certainty the effect. We might for example claim that the motion of one billiard ball will be transferred to the next upon impact. But how do we know that without having first discovered that motion is transferable?]

But to convince us that all the laws of nature, and all the operations of bodies without exception, are known only by experience, the following reflections may, perhaps, suffice. Were any object presented to us, and were we required to pronounce concerning the effect, which will result from it, without consulting past observation; after what manner, I beseech you, must the mind proceed in this operation? It must invent or imagine some event, which it ascribes to the object as its effect; and it is plain that this invention must be entirely arbitrary. The mind can never possibly find the effect in the supposed cause, by the most accurate scrutiny and examination. For the effect is totally different from the cause, and consequently can never be discovered in it. Motion in the second Billiard-ball is a quite distinct event from motion in the first; nor is there anything in the one to suggest the smallest hint of the other. A stone or piece of metal raised into the air, and left without any support, immediately falls: but to consider the matter a priori, is there anything we discover in this situation which can beget the idea of a downward, rather than an upward, or any other motion, in the stone or metal?

(online / 21)

 

 

4.1.10

[Also, without the benefit of experience, we can imagine more than one effect for the same cause.]

 

[Suppose we are trying to explain the effects of one body striking another, without consulting prior experience. We already noted that whatever we choose to imagine the effect to be, it is an arbitrary choice, as even the opposite effect is imaginable. Also, our very assumption that there is only one possible effect is as well an arbitrary choice, as we can imagine the effects varying in each instance.]

And as the first imagination or invention of a particular effect, in all natural operations, is arbitrary, where we consult not experience; so must we also esteem the supposed tie or connexion between the cause and effect, which binds them together, and renders it impossible that any other effect could result from the operation of that cause. When I see, for instance, a Billiard-ball moving in a straight line towards another; even suppose motion in the second ball should by accident be suggested to me, as the result of their contact or impulse; may I not conceive, that a hundred different events might as well follow from that cause? May not both these balls remain at absolute rest? May not the first ball return in a straight line, or leap off from the second in any line or direction? All these suppositions are consistent and conceivable. Why then should we give the preference to one, which is no more consistent or conceivable than the rest? All our reasonings a priori will never be able to show us any foundation for this preference.

(online / 21)

 

 

 

4.1.11

[Thus we cannot know causes simply a priori, so we always must appeal to experience.]

 

Hume than summarizes the above points.

In a word, then, every effect is a distinct event from its cause. It could not, therefore, be discovered in the cause, and the first invention or conception of it, a priori, must be entirely arbitrary. And even after it is suggested, the conjunction of it with the cause must appear equally arbitrary; since there are always many other effects, which, to | reason, must seem fully as consistent and natural. In vain, therefore, should we pretend to determine any single event, or infer any cause or effect, without the assistance of observation and experience.

(online / 21-22)

 

 

4.1.12

[Since our knowledge of cause is limited to local situations, we cannot know much about ultimate causes holding universally.]

 

[I am quite uncertain about the next point, but I will guess it is the following. We begin by acknowledging that all knowledge of cause must come from experience. This means we can only be relatively certain about the causality of specific things (as future experiences could give new data that modifies our current knowledge). But we cannot know about more ultimate causes whose effects are widespread over space and time. For, out ability to experience such more widespread causes is far too limited to our current spatio-temporal orientations. Let me quote, as I am guessing:]

Hence we may discover the reason why no philosopher, who is rational and modest, has ever pretended to assign the ultimate cause of any natural operation, or to show distinctly the action of that power, which produces any single effect in the universe. It is confessed, that the utmost effort of human reason is to reduce the principles, productive of natural phenomena, to a greater simplicity, and to resolve the many particular effects into a few general causes, by means of reasonings from analogy, experience, and observation. But as to the causes of these general causes, we should in vain attempt their discovery; nor shall we ever be able to satisfy ourselves, by any particular explication of them. These ultimate springs and principles are totally shut up from human curiosity and enquiry. Elasticity, gravity, cohesion of parts, communication of motion by impulse; these are probably the ultimate causes and principles which we shall ever discover in nature; and we may esteem ourselves sufficiently happy, if, by accurate enquiry and reasoning, we can trace up the particular phenomena to, or near to, these general principles. The most perfect philosophy of the natural kind only staves off our ignorance a little longer: as perhaps the most perfect philosophy of the moral or metaphysical kind serves only to discover larger portions of it. Thus the observation of human blindness and weakness is the result of all philosophy, and meets us at every turn, in spite of our endeavours to elude or avoid it.

(online / 22)

 

 

 

4.1.13

[We also cannot deduce a priori the effects of physical causes using mathematics and geometry, because they can only aid in making predictive calculations that are already guided by observation.]

 

[The points and reasoning here might be the following. One might object that we can use mathematics and geometry to deduce a priori the laws of physics and thereby also to make predictions. For example, if we have all the relevant quantities, like mass and speed, and all the relevant spatial determinations like direction of the motion, we might then simply calculate the effects of a collision of moving bodies. However, while these mathematical and geometrical determinations, along with their appropriate operations, can help us produce our calculations, they do not establish from the beginning that certain sorts of motion will result from certain given circumstances. We first need to observe the sorts of causes and their effects before incorporating mathematical techniques to make predictions. Perhaps a better way to put it is the following. We can have all the mathematical and geometrical tools possible, but in order to apply them, we need to know the laws of physics that govern the situations we are studying. But no law of physics can be known a priori, because as we noted we can imagine opposing effects resulting from certain causes.]

Nor is geometry, when taken into the assistance of natural philosophy, ever able to remedy this defect, or lead us into the knowledge of ultimate causes, by all that accuracy of reasoning for which it is so justly celebrated. Every part of mixed mathematics proceeds upon the supposition that certain laws are established by nature in her operations; and abstract reasonings are employed, either to assist experience in the discovery of these laws, or to determine their influence in particular instances, where it depends upon any precise degree of distance and quantity. Thus, it is a law of motion, discovered by experience, that the moment or force of any body in motion is in the compound ratio or proportion of its solid contents and its velocity; and consequently, that a small force may remove the greatest obstacle or raise the greatest weight, if, by any contrivance or machinery, we can increase the velocity of that force, so as to make it an overmatch for | its antagonist. Geometry assists us in the application of this law, by giving us the just dimensions of all the parts and figures which can enter into any species of machine; but still the discovery of the law itself is owing merely to experience, and all the abstract reasonings in the world could never lead us one step towards the knowledge of it. When we reason a priori, and consider merely any object or cause, as it appears to the mind, independent of all observation, it never could suggest to us the notion of any distinct object, such as its effect; much less, show us the inseparable and inviolable connexion between them. A man must be very sagacious who could discover by reasoning that crystal is the effect of heat, and ice of cold, without being previously acquainted with the operation of these qualities.

(online / 22-23)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hume, David. 2007. An Enquiry concerning Human Nature. Peter Millican (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University.

Text available online at:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9662

PDF available at:

https://archive.org/details/enquiryconcernin00humeuoft

 

 

 

 

 

Or if otherwise noted:

Hume, David. 1979. A Treatise of Human Nature. L.A Selby-Bigge (ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Text available online at:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92t/

PDF available at:

http://ia341013.us.archive.org/3/items/treatiseofhumann01humeuoft/treatiseofhumann01humeuoft.pdf

 

 

 

 

.