• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically discuss the adequacy of Hume's constant conjunction thesis as an analysis of cause and effect

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Critically discuss the adequacy of Hume's constant conjunction thesis as an analysis of cause and effect. David Hume was an empiricist because he believed that nearly all our knowledge derives from experience. (Except for what he calls "relations of ideas", such as the truths of geometry and arithmetic but has little to say about them) Hume does not only argue that our ideas derive from impressions i.e. sensory and emotional experiences but that the connections we make between ideas also derive from experience. Principally the most important "principle of connexion" between ideas is the notion of cause and effect. He believed that our knowledge of cause and effect is entirely derived from sense experience. Furthermore when we know that something is closely linked to something else. Hume's constant conjunction thesis is the view that one event follows another. In other words, A is always followed by B. Hume gives the example that when you eat bread you know that it will be followed by the bread nourishing you. ...read more.

Middle

In other words, that in some way our ideas follow a sequence/ chain. One thing follows another in some kind of order and direction. Why can't we work out the effect from seeing the cause? According to Hume we can only know the effect of something by experience only and can't be worked out beforehand. He claims that by using reason i.e. the mind, that it can never possibly find the effect of the supposed cause even if examined. He held that we can discover the causes of things to a certain extent, but the discovery of the ultimate causes of things is something which will for ever elude us. Hume also challenges the reader and asks; if there is anything a priori what is it then? It seems quite complicated to think of something we could know a priori. So it seems that cause and effect as Hume proposes can only be known thorough experience only and that even though we experience A causing B , all we have actually observed is the constant conjunction of A and B- an from this we assume A caused B. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hume's psychological theory is one of repetition, based on resemblance or similarity that when we see something happening once we assume it will happen again. The kind of repetition pictured by Hume can never be perfect. As Popper points out, the cases he has in mind cannot be cases of perfect sameness but only of similarity. Thus they are repetitions only from a certain point of view. In other words, ( what I think Popper is trying to say but I'm not sure) instead of waiting for repetitions or regularities to form some kind of pattern that we can all agree and follow we keenly impose our own regularities upon the world without constructing solid premises thereby jumping to conclusions. Being a theory of trial and error these conclusions can later be proved wrong. The big problem is the lack of description about the secret powers of things; the only thing we are told is that they're unknown to us. This may well be the missing piece of the puzzle. If we were to know the secret powers of things maybe it would help us to understand more about cause and effect. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. How, and with what success, does Hume deal with the apparent anomaly of the ...

    produce the idea of the missing shade of blue without having first encountered it through his senses. At this point, I would like to elaborate more on Hume's theory of mind and the origin of ideas as that would clarify why this example is so damaging to Hume's system.

  2. An embodied life in heaven is entirely possible. Discuss.

    Materialism acknowledges that an individual is a physical body and nothing else. The majority of materialists believe that once the body dies, the whole person is dead and therefore ceases to exist. Philosophers such as John Hicks, Richard Dawkins, Rene Descartes and Gilbert Ryle had a materialistic approach to the theory of life after death.

  1. Examine and Comment on a philosophical analysis of religious experience

    Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that such a divine reality would not wish to see 'his' creation in pain. As MAURICE WILES argues: "It seems strange that no miraculous intervention prevented Auschwitz or Hiroshima whilst the purposes apparently forwarded for some of the miracles acclaimed in the Christian tradition

  2. Philosophy: Life After Death Analysis

    Evolution is the blind watchmaker of the title, the ultra-slow cumulative selection filtering system that weeds out weaker creations through a process of statistical averages across mind-bogglingly huge lengths of time. However, We have for generations lived in a world where we have an immortal soul.

  1. A Critical Analysis of Lao Tzu's Tao Teh Ching - Chineses philosophy.

    Without such a definition the term philosophy would become quite empty and useless, for anything or nothing could be regarded to belong into its sphere. But what does it mean to say that philosophy is reflective, normative, critical, rational and systematic thinking?

  2. Discuss critically the differing notions of power and freedom explored in the 'Gorgias'.

    No good will come from this, there is no benefit here for society, nor is there any good for the individual. The orator does not further themselves by continuing on with such flattery, they are merely guessing at true knowledge.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work