Argumentative Essay on Hume

This essay has a total of 870 words and 4 pages.


David Hume

Knowledge is gained only through experience, and experiences only exist in the mind as
individual units of thought. This theory of knowledge belonged to David Hume, a Scottish
philosopher. Hume was born on April 26, 1711, as his family's second son. His father died
when he was an infant and left his mother to care for him, his older brother, and his
sister. David Hume passed through ordinary classes with great success, and found an early
love for literature. He lived on his family's estate, Ninewells, near Edinburgh.
Throughout his life, literature consumed his thoughts, and his life is little more than
his works. By the age of 40, David Hume had been employed twice and had failed at the
family careers, business and law. Occasionally, he served on diplomatic missions in France
and other countries.

Hume's major work, A Treatise of Human Nature, was not well understood when first
published, and received much criticism. The first two volumes were published in 1739, and
the third in 1740. Immanuel Kant and other philosophers did notice his work and began
respecting Hume for his reasoning. Later, he republished the first and third volumes as An
Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, and An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals
in 1748 and 1751 respectively. The second volume was used as Part 2 of Four Dissertations
in 1757.

"During his lifetime Hume's reputation derived from the publication of his Political
Discourses (1751) and six-volume History of England (1754-1762)," (Langley 415). David
Hume discovered he was literary celebrity when visiting France in 1763. He retired to
Edinburgh in 1769 and lived a happy life. He passed away August 25, 1776 and left in his
will that he only wanted his name and date on his gravestone, "leaving it to posterity to
add the rest," (Langley 415).

Skepticism is the belief that people can not know the nature of things because perception
reveals things not as they are, but as we experience them. In other words, knowledge is
never known in truth, and humans should always question it. David Hume advanced skepticism
to what he called mitigated skepticism. Mitigated skepticism was his approach to try to
rid skepticism of the thoughts of human origin, and only include questions that people may
begin to understand. Hume's goal was to limit philosophical questioning to things which
could be comprehended.

Empiricism states that knowledge is based on experience, so everything that is known is
learned through experience, but nothing is ever truly known. David Hume called lively and
strong experiences, perceptions, and less lively events, beliefs or thoughts. Different
words and concepts meant different things to different people due to the knowledge, or
experiences they have. He believed, along with the fact that knowledge is only gained
through experience, that a person's experiences are nothing more than the contents of his
or her own consciousness. The knowledge of anything comes from the way it is perceived
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