David Hume's 300th

David Hume’s 300th birthday was on Saturday, and there’s a fair amount of celebration going on around the net. Open Culture has links to some retrospectives, free versions of Hume’s works, and this “Three Minute Philosophy” clip about Hume’s accomplishments:

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Induction is not a problem if you accept that your conclusion are based on probabilities rather than logical certainty.

    • Revyloution

      Took the words right out of my mouth, er… keyboard.

    • Michael

      How do you know that just because something happened in the past, it is more likely to happen in the future? According to Hume, you only know that because you’ve seen it happen before, and thus you still have the problem of induction.

      Though you could probably make a decent statistical argument for why this makes sense.

      • Elemenope

        Yeah, the real devastating bit (from an epistemological point of view) of the Problem of Induction is that the methods by which probabilities are determined are themselves implementations of induction. It’s circular from every-which-way, to the point where the best answer to the Problem of Induction is still Hume’s, which is “we do it anyway, just ’cause (we have to), and it will never make rational sense, so best make peace with that.”

      • Reginald Selkirk

        How do you know that just because something happened in the past, it is more likely to happen in the future?

        Our scientific understanding of the universe can improve over time, as we make new observations, carry out new experiments and incorporate new analysis. I do not see this as a bad thing. At which point would you want science to have stopped: Before the discovery of vaccination? Before the development of antibiotics? Before lasers and electronics? etc etc etc

  • GBM

    Well whatever else you think about Hume, I think we all can appreciate the bulls-eye he scored against Intelligent Design from beyond the grave in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      In Dialogues, some of the arguments put forward in favour of design are now obsolete. For example, it is argued that no species are known to have gone extinct. That is certainly no longer true.

  • mikespeir

    Yeah, but what has he done recently?

  • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

    Hahaha! I just submitted a paper on philosophy of time… I included Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Newton, Hume, Kant, and William James in the discussion.

    :D

    • Elemenope

      Attack of the specious present!

      • Ty

        This is why I am a terrible academic. All of my papers include Homer Simpson and Bender the Robot.

        • Elemenope

          One semester I was able to work “fnord” into every exam essay and paper; only one professor noticed.

      • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

        LOL! Nope— I was exploring rationalism and empiricism in philosophical constructions of time.

        The specious present lives!!! Seriously, there is evidence for neural substrates of the specious present. :D

        Ty, I’d love to read your academic papers anytime!!!! LOL!

        • Elemenope

          It was one of my favorite of William James’ ideas.

          • http://lydiafromtexas.wordpress.com/ LRA

            I’m starting to realize the sheer genius of William James. Reading more of his work is definitely in my future!

  • Robert Jase

    What!? Nothing about him being able to outconsume Schopenhauer and Hagel?

    Bloody Hell!

    • 1984

      LOL

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  • Raymond

    Is there any way that we could imagine the Religious Right as having no properties?


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