An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Summary

He never actually held a university post, being turned down from two appointments on charges of atheism, and made a living as a man of letters, acting variously as a secretary, tutor, librarian, and historian.

He lived a great deal of his life in France, where he was very popular in literary circles.

The second addresses the reader directly, and offers a defense of the book and its arguments from various perspectives.

The rest of the work is divided into four books, as follows.

Rather than condemn them entirely, Hume simply reduces their scope, suggesting that there is nothing in them that goes beyond an observation of constant conjunction between two events.

Hume turns these conclusions toward a compatibilist view of free will and determinism.The instinctual beliefs formed custom help us get in the world and think prudently.As long as we restrict our thinking to relations of ideas and matters of fact, we should be fine, but we should abandon all metaphysical speculations as superfluous and nonsensical.Context David Hume is unique amongst philosophers in that, according to all accounts, he seems to have been a very pleasant and sociable person.He was born into a relatively wealthy Scottish family and was directed toward a profession in law.Hume suggests habit, and not reason, enforces a perception of necessary connection between events.When we see two events constantly conjoined, our imagination infers a necessary connection between them even if it has no rational grounds for doing so.There is no contradiction in denying a causal connection, so we cannot do so through relations of ideas.Also, we cannot justify future predictions from past experience without some principle that dictates that the future will always resemble the past.Relations of ideas are, for the most part, mathematical truths, so denial of them would result in a contradiction.Matters of fact are the more common truths that we learn from experience. For the most part, we understand matters of fact according to cause and effect, where a direct impression will lead us to infer some unobserved cause.


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