Re: Hume

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Wed Nov 19 2003 - 01:52:20 EST

--- Andrew Brown <Andrew@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK> wrote:
> Hi Ajit,
> I agree that Hume's problem is not bunk. The trouble
> is to find a solution. His own
> solution was irrational: purely irrational custom or
> habit impels humans to believe in
> mind-independent causation as far as Hume is
> concerned. According to Hume, we
> leave by the stairs and not the window due to the
> force of custom and habit, not
> because we have knowledge that falling from great
> height will kill us.
> And this example reveals the *practical* problem
> with Hume: his notions are
> hopelessly at variance with our obvious intuitions
> such that we have rationally
> acceptable knowledge of reality.
> To the extent that Hume reminds us that reality is
> not apprehended in an immediate
> way then he is indeed 'soothing'. But for the above
> reasons, I would argue that we
> must reject Hume's key arguments, as a whole. If we
> are not going to spend a long
> to philosophising we are best to simply leave open
> the solution to Hume's problem,
> i.e. the problem of how to uphold mind-independence
> without sliding to scepticism.
> We cannot follow Hume's own irrational response.
> A philosophical solution is to be found in
> materialist dialectics. In a nutshell, idea
> and object are united and made to conform to one
> another in human labour. Error
> lies not in the fact that the ultimate reality, the
> 'real essences' of objects, lies forever
> out of bounds of human cognition, as in Kantian
> (self-contradictory) noumena.
> Instead error lies in the fact that we encounter
> only a small portion of the universe.
> We have perfectely adequate ideas of the objects
> around us (e.g. I know for sure
> that a denial of my material needs will kill me....
> I always leave by the stairs... ) but
> we cannot see immediately how they are united into
> the system as a whole (the
> ultimate system being the universe). And of course
> we never will grasp in full the
> universe. Our knowledge will always be very
> imperfect. Thus we have a mind-
> independent, fallibly grasped world but we have
> avoided Hume's slide to sceptism.
> Many thanks,
> Andy
Andy, I'm not proposing that we should all follow Hume
or get involved in solving Hume's problem of radical
sceptism of empirical knowledge. All I'm pointing out
is that the causal theorizing by science has not
completely established its foundations. I'm not
convinced of your solutions to Hume's problem though.
How can you be "sure" that you will die if you don't
eat? since you have not stopped eating and not died
yet. Then you say, "A philosophical solution is to be
found in materialist dialectics. In a nutshell, idea
and object are united and made to conform to one
another in human labour." But this is just an
assertion. How do we know this? Cheers, ajit sinha
> > Because economic theory does not have to be an
> > empiricist philosophy of knowledge. Hume himself
> did
> > not follow his empiricist philosophy in his other
> > works because his philosophy ultimately leads to
> > nihilism. But that does not mean that the
> > philosophical problem he raised for empiricist
> > knowledge, particularly for the implied relation
> of
> > cause and effect, is all bunk. It shows us the
> > limitation of what we claim to know. Now, we all
> know
> > that all sciences are predictive, i.e. built on
> the
> > relation of cause and effect. But science is not
> in a
> > business of proving anything--it is neither
> philosophy
> > nor mathematics. In some Kantian sense science
> simply
> > takes the relation of cause and effect as a priori
> or
> > its fundamental belief or axiom. On this basis it
> only
> > tentatively suggests certain causal explanations
> for
> > various phenomena. But these theories must always
> > remain tentative and can never prove its
> correctness
> > beyond doubt. The main role of science is to act
> as a
> > medicine that sooths our mind by giving some sort
> of
> > order to desperate phenomena--it keeps us from
> going
> > crazy! That's an admirable job and economics can
> be
> > part of it. But it is also good to know the
> > limitations of what we claim to know. Cheers, ajit

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