PHL220: Hume's Enquiry, sections VI and VII

### Hume's Enquiry, sections VI and VII

Hume, Section VI
The goal of this section is to explain probability.
• Hume argues that we confer probabilities on events based on the frequencies that we have observed in the past.
• Example: I observe that one event (tossing a coin) results in another event (the coin landing heads up) with some frequency (the coin landed heads-up 50% of the time in the past), so I conclude that in the future, this frequency will continue.

Hume's Enquiry section VII part 1
The goal of this section is to explain our idea of "powers" or "necessary connections" underlying causes.
• While the concepts of mathematics may be clear, the concepts of the sciences are often ambiguous or unclear.
• The most important but very unclear concept in sciences is that of a "necessary connection" or "power" that connects a cause with an effect.
• Where does this idea come from?
• All ideas are copies of impressions, so what impression underlies the idea of this "power" or "necessary connection"?
• It cannot be an observation of something external.
• When we examine events, we see no power, just a correlation between kinds of events
• From the first appearance of an object or event we cannot predict what it will cause (we need to see what follows); so, it cannot be that we see some power in the cause for this would tell us about the effect.
• Objects ("bodies") have no powers revealed in them, just independent properties of extension, motion, solidity
• The will is like a power, perhaps - is our source of the idea of a power come from our observation of internal events?
1. Hume says it cannot be that observation of something internal is our source of this idea either, because the will is mysterious. The will requires a link between soul and body if we are to observe it as a power, and this link is mysterious
2. We cannot control some things, like our livers - but we cannot say why we cannot control of liver. So, the will is not something we understand and can see in it its powers.
3. We know when we will some action that we will that action, but we do not know the chain of events leading to this action. So, the will's action is mysterious to us.
THUS: we do not understand or observe the will's power.
• Perhaps we get the idea from our ability to manipulate ideas
1. We don't understand the soul and its activities.
2. We don't have complete command over our thoughts, so there is not complete clarity of power here.
3. Our self command over our thoughts changes over time, and we do not understand why.
Thus: like the will's command over the body, the will's command over thoughts remains unclear and is not an experience of necessary connection.
• Perhaps we get the idea of power or necessary connection from thinking on God's will
• God's will is completely beyond our experience
• How God's volition works is as obscure as our own
• Is the idea of "power" or "necessary connection" meaningless?
• Hume argues no - there is an impression on which it is based.
• This impression is of a sentiment.
• We observe correlations of types of events A which are followed regularly in the past by another type of event B. y
• This regularity causes in us a sentiment of expectation for the B events when we observe an event of type A.
• This sentiment may mistakenly lead us to think of there being a kind of power between correlations.