Reading Questions for 10/30: Hume’s View of the Operation of the Human Understanding

David_HumeIn Sections IV and V of the Enquiry, Hume presents some skeptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding (IV) and then seeks to resolve these doubts through embracing a skeptical attitude, rather than through defending human understanding against these doubts (V). This discussion complements the discussions of Sections II and III in establishing the basic position of the work. The central points introduced here include:

  • A general distinction concerning the objects of human reason
  • A general claim concerning the basis of our reasoning concerning one of these classes of objects
  • A further claim about our knowledge concerning this basis-i.e., our knowledge of the fundamental principle we make use of in all reasoning concerning this class of objects
  • A contention concerning the status of this reasoning that stems from an analysis of the status of our evidence for accepting this fundamental principle.

Here are our questions for Friday:

  1. What are the two classes of objects for human reasoning that Hume introduces here? (How does he articulate the distinction?)
  2. What is his general claim concerning reasoning about the class of objects he is most concerned with here? (How does he explicate this claim?)
  3. What does he identify as the fundamental basis for our knowledge concerning this relation? (What considerations does he offer in support of this?)
  4. What does his further analysis lead him to concerning the status of our reasoning about this class of objects?

Come to class on Friday ready to provide quick answers to these questions and to work together to understand the answers to the follow-up questions.

 

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