Humes Ways of Expressing Propositions


The Reading Assignment contains (usually) two questions pertaining to short sections of (usually) primary sources. Primary sources are the original writings of important philosophers, not textbook accounts, summaries, or expert explanations of original writings. (Expert explanations, textbook accounts, etc. are called ‘secondary sources.’) The primary sources are (usually) provided as links to free online sources. Detailed instructions identify the exact passages to read.

Please note that this is NOT a research assignment. You should NOT search for additional information on the text(s) or its author(s) or try to find ‘the right answers’ to the Reading Assignment Questions. Rather, you should ‘struggle’ with the text(s) and make sure to answer all parts of the questions completely and thoroughly to the best of your understanding.

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David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Links to an external site.). Please read Part I and Part II of Section IV (Sceptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding).

After careful reflection, please answer the following questions:

  1. David Hume distinguishes two kinds of insights (or propositions – the statements in which such insights are expressed). How would you describe his distinction in your own words, using your own examples? Please make sure to be specific, and carefully explain your reasoning.
  2. What is the problem, for Hume, with observing the cause-and-effect relationships necessary for our understanding of the natural world? Can you provide an example? Carefully explain your reasoning.

Your response to each question should be about 300 – 400 words in length, but please feel free to be as detailed as you wish. Your responses must be written in full sentences, logically structured, using proper grammar and spelling, and appropriate style. It is recommended that you write out your answers using a word processing program and copy and paste the completed response. This will avoid loss of work in case of internet outage, etc. Always keep a backup copy of all written work.