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Reid's Critique of Hume

Oxford University

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Reid's Critique of Hume

Reid's Critique of Hume

Oxford University

5
Followers
13
Plays
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Under “David Hume”, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy begins with, “The most important philosopher ever to write in English”. His most formidable contemporary critic was the fellow Scot, Thomas Reid, the major architect of so-called Scottish Common Sense Philosophy. The most significant features of Hume’s work, as understood by Reid, are the representive theory of perception, the nature of causation and causal concepts, the nature of personal identity and the foundations of morality. Each of these topics is presented in a pair of lectures, the first summarizing Hume’s position and the second Reid’s critique of that position.

Latest Episodes

Reid on the Principles of Morals

The final part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. “Like all other sciences, morals must have first principles, and all moral reasoning is based on them... In all rational belief, the thing believed is either a first principle or something inferred by valid reasoning from first principles”. As for utility, “Suppose that mice rescue the distressed person by chewing through the cords that bound him. Is there moral goodness in this act of the mice?” Beyond the armchair and other precincts of untrammeled speculation, one finds that, there is little purchase on a morality of pleasure and utility. Indded, “If what we call ‘moral judgment’ isn’t really a judgment but merely a feeling, it follows that the moral principles that we have been taught to consider as an immutable law to all intelligent beings have no basis except an arbitrary structure and fabric in the constitution of the human mind…Thus, by a change in our structure immoral things could...

52 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on the Principles of Morals

Hume’s “Sentimentalist” Theory of Morals

The seventh part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. In his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals [1751], Hume states: “The final sentence, it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praise-worthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the mark of honour or infamy, approbation or censure; that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery; it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species”. The ruling motives are shaped by considerations of utility. “The rage and violence of public war; what is it but a suspension of justice among the warring parties, who perceive, that this virtue is now no longer of any USE or advantage to them? The laws of war, which then succeed to those of equity and justice, are rules calculated for the ADVANTAGE and UTILITY…” Creative Co...

50 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume’s “Sentimentalist” Theory of Morals

Reid on Personal Identity

The sixth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. In the third of his Essays on The Intellectual Powers of Man, Reid devotes the fourth chapter to the concept of 'identity', and the sixth chapter to Locke's theory of 'personal identity'. This latter chapter is widely regarded as a definitive refutation of the thesis that personal identity is no more than memories of a certain sort, less a “bundle of perceptions”. As he says, “This conviction of one’s own identity is utterly necessary for all exercise of reason. The operations of reason—whether practical reasoning about what to do or speculative reasoning in the building up of a theory—are made up of successive parts. In any reasoning that I perform, the early parts are the foundation of the later ones, and if I didn’t have the conviction that the early parts are propositions that I have approved or written down, I would have no reason to proceed to the later parts in any theoretical or practi...

49 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on Personal Identity

Hume on Personal Identity

The fifth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. “There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity…For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated...” Creative Commons At...

41 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume on Personal Identity

Reid on Causation and Active Powers

The fourth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series examining Reid's critique of David Hume. “It is evident that a power is a quality, and therefore can’t exist without a subject to which it belongs…This (Humean) suggestion— There exists some power that cannot be attributed to any thing, any subject, which has the power —is an absurdity…No principle seems to have been more universally acknowledged by mankind ever since the first dawn of reason than that every change we observe in nature must have a cause…Another argument to show that all men have a notion or idea of active power is that there are many mental operations—performed by everyone who has a mind, and necessary in the ordinary conduct of life—which presuppose that we have active power”. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

45 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on Causation and Active Powers

Hume on Causation

The third part of Professor Dan Robinson's series examining Reid's critique of David Hume. Causality arises from a habit of the mind formed by repeated experiences. “There is nothing in any objects to persuade us, that they are either always remote or always contiguous; and when from experience and observation we discover, that their relation in this particular is invariable, we, always conclude there is some secret cause, which separates or unites them…” Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

49 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume on Causation

Reid and Common Sense Realism

Part two of Professor Dan Robinson's examination of Reid's critique of David Hume. Is it the case that every simple idea is a “copy” of a simple impression? Hume is but the latest to deny that we have direct access to the external world. The “ideal” theory, relegating ideas to a mental realm whose occupants are but “copies” of some indefinite thing, is the sure path to skepticism and is at variance with the proper methods of science. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

52 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid and Common Sense Realism

The “representational” theory of knowledge

Professor Dan Robinson, Oxford University, delivers the first part of his series examining Reid's Critique of Hume. Hume defends the thesis according to which “ALL THE PERCEPTIONS OF THE HUMAN MIND RESOLVE THEMSELVES INTO…IMPRESSIONS AND IDEAS”. Accordingly, “We may prosecute this enquiry to what length we please; where we shall always find, that every idea which we examine is copied from a similar impression”. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

60 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
The “representational” theory of knowledge
the END

Latest Episodes

Reid on the Principles of Morals

The final part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. “Like all other sciences, morals must have first principles, and all moral reasoning is based on them... In all rational belief, the thing believed is either a first principle or something inferred by valid reasoning from first principles”. As for utility, “Suppose that mice rescue the distressed person by chewing through the cords that bound him. Is there moral goodness in this act of the mice?” Beyond the armchair and other precincts of untrammeled speculation, one finds that, there is little purchase on a morality of pleasure and utility. Indded, “If what we call ‘moral judgment’ isn’t really a judgment but merely a feeling, it follows that the moral principles that we have been taught to consider as an immutable law to all intelligent beings have no basis except an arbitrary structure and fabric in the constitution of the human mind…Thus, by a change in our structure immoral things could...

52 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on the Principles of Morals

Hume’s “Sentimentalist” Theory of Morals

The seventh part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. In his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals [1751], Hume states: “The final sentence, it is probable, which pronounces characters and actions amiable or odious, praise-worthy or blameable; that which stamps on them the mark of honour or infamy, approbation or censure; that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery; it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species”. The ruling motives are shaped by considerations of utility. “The rage and violence of public war; what is it but a suspension of justice among the warring parties, who perceive, that this virtue is now no longer of any USE or advantage to them? The laws of war, which then succeed to those of equity and justice, are rules calculated for the ADVANTAGE and UTILITY…” Creative Co...

50 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume’s “Sentimentalist” Theory of Morals

Reid on Personal Identity

The sixth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. In the third of his Essays on The Intellectual Powers of Man, Reid devotes the fourth chapter to the concept of 'identity', and the sixth chapter to Locke's theory of 'personal identity'. This latter chapter is widely regarded as a definitive refutation of the thesis that personal identity is no more than memories of a certain sort, less a “bundle of perceptions”. As he says, “This conviction of one’s own identity is utterly necessary for all exercise of reason. The operations of reason—whether practical reasoning about what to do or speculative reasoning in the building up of a theory—are made up of successive parts. In any reasoning that I perform, the early parts are the foundation of the later ones, and if I didn’t have the conviction that the early parts are propositions that I have approved or written down, I would have no reason to proceed to the later parts in any theoretical or practi...

49 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on Personal Identity

Hume on Personal Identity

The fifth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series on Reid's critique of David Hume. “There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment intimately conscious of what we call our self; that we feel its existence and its continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a demonstration, both of its perfect identity and simplicity…For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and could I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate, after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated...” Creative Commons At...

41 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume on Personal Identity

Reid on Causation and Active Powers

The fourth part of Professor Dan Robinson's series examining Reid's critique of David Hume. “It is evident that a power is a quality, and therefore can’t exist without a subject to which it belongs…This (Humean) suggestion— There exists some power that cannot be attributed to any thing, any subject, which has the power —is an absurdity…No principle seems to have been more universally acknowledged by mankind ever since the first dawn of reason than that every change we observe in nature must have a cause…Another argument to show that all men have a notion or idea of active power is that there are many mental operations—performed by everyone who has a mind, and necessary in the ordinary conduct of life—which presuppose that we have active power”. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

45 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid on Causation and Active Powers

Hume on Causation

The third part of Professor Dan Robinson's series examining Reid's critique of David Hume. Causality arises from a habit of the mind formed by repeated experiences. “There is nothing in any objects to persuade us, that they are either always remote or always contiguous; and when from experience and observation we discover, that their relation in this particular is invariable, we, always conclude there is some secret cause, which separates or unites them…” Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

49 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Hume on Causation

Reid and Common Sense Realism

Part two of Professor Dan Robinson's examination of Reid's critique of David Hume. Is it the case that every simple idea is a “copy” of a simple impression? Hume is but the latest to deny that we have direct access to the external world. The “ideal” theory, relegating ideas to a mental realm whose occupants are but “copies” of some indefinite thing, is the sure path to skepticism and is at variance with the proper methods of science. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

52 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
Reid and Common Sense Realism

The “representational” theory of knowledge

Professor Dan Robinson, Oxford University, delivers the first part of his series examining Reid's Critique of Hume. Hume defends the thesis according to which “ALL THE PERCEPTIONS OF THE HUMAN MIND RESOLVE THEMSELVES INTO…IMPRESSIONS AND IDEAS”. Accordingly, “We may prosecute this enquiry to what length we please; where we shall always find, that every idea which we examine is copied from a similar impression”. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

60 MIN2014 MAY 14
Comments
The “representational” theory of knowledge
the END
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