The Echoes of the Mind (9-20) David Hume

David Hume

What a peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain which we call ‘thought’. ~ David Hume

Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711–1776) was an empiricist: the contents of the mind come only from experience. Hume believed that experience could be stimulated by either external or internal events.

To hate, to love, to think, to feel, to see; all this is nothing but to perceive. ~ David Hume

Hume held that impressions – perceptions of the outside world – are vivid. In contrast, ideas are weak perceptions. Once ideas exist in the mind, their rearrangement in a nearly infinite number of ways is a mere matter of imagination.

Nothing is more free than the imagination. It can feign a train of events with all the appearance of reality. For as the mind has authority over all its ideas, it could voluntarily annex this particular idea to any fiction, and consequently be able to believe whatever it pleases. ~ David Hume

Hume held that all abstractions – God, soul, the laws of Nature, and even matter – are products of the imagination. Causality is reduced to a pattern of associative memory.

Belief is nothing but a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object, than what the imagination alone is ever able to attain. ~ David Hume

For Hume, physical existence is real, but perception of it is at a remove, filtered by the senses. Hence, knowing the nature of reality is beyond ken.

The rules of morality are not the conclusion of our reason. ~ David Hume

To Hume, the human animal is innately emotional. Cunning serves each person’s passions.

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. ~ David Hume