Hume, Locke, Berke

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 4 November 2016

Hume, Locke, Berke

Based on past philosophers, the philosophers after them are able to expand their theories and find greater knowledge. The philosophers that will be introduced in this paper are David Hume, John Locke, and George Berkeley. Each have either found a new theory or expanded it from a previous one. Although it is important to know what their theories talk, it is as important to also study how they were led to believe in those theories. David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist. He is greatly known for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism.

Skepticism being the requiring of evidence to prove something and empiricism being evidence from senses and knowledge. He sought to find knowledge purely based upon naturalistic “science of man. ” He quotes, “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions,” concluding that desire rather than reason determined human behavior. Arguing against innate ideas, Hume believed that all knowledge comes from experience and that the mind contains nothing but a collection of perceptions, that all events are viewed and interpreted through the sensations of the mind.

An example would be the visualization of an apple. If he would to say visualize a fresh green apple, with our use of perceptions we are able to imagine a fresh green apple through its properties. When he asks to try visualizing an object without properties, it’s nothing thus nonexistent. He would argue against Descartes idea of existence. Descartes famous saying, “I think, therefore I exist,” is said to false under Hume’s theory. Hume would say that the world and everything it in does not really exist.

With the use of our senses and perceptions, we create a world that we believe exists. He called this the bundle theory. He also didn’t believe in God since experience must come first before knowledge. Without the experiencing God through any of the human senses, God cannot therefore exist. The word infinity is meaningless if one never experienced infinity. The only trouble Hume would face would be the problem of induction. An example would seeing only green apples. If people were only seeing green applies, they assume all apples are green.

However, since they cannot experience all apples in the world, perhaps a red apple is given one day and it will disclaim the first statement. Hume lastly states that impressions are strong than ideas. Impressions are immediate while ideas are not. A person biting into a lemon is experiencing sour now, while a person trying to last remember what a bite into a lemon is harder to experience. John Locke believed that people are believed into a clean slate, also known as Tabula Rasa. By clean slate, he meant that people’s mind are completely empty.

They have no prior knowledge within them. This is where the theory of a priori and posteriori knowledge comes in place. A priori knowledge is knowledge before experience however, Locke would suggest that experience comes before knowledge, being posteriori. Locke also suggests his dualism theory where the world is categorized into two parts: matter and spirit. This theory would relate to the primary and secondary qualities. Example of primary qualities are objects/dimensions and movement. They are primary since they can be perceived through human senses.

The other is secondary qualities which is more into the spiritual side. Secondary qualities are the “real goods,” an example would be the color red. Based on human perception we have many variations of red. The secondary qualities of red would be the real color red. People can only make different shades of red but, never know what red really is. Because of our senses, we are confined or limited to our own perceptual world. Similar to Locke and Hume’s beliefs, George Berkeley believed in the idea that existence involved perception.

The phrase esse est percipi means to be is to be perceived. Even though Hume believed God was nonexistent through senses, Berkeley uses the senses in order to justify God’s existence. When a man loses his keys and is unable to find it as long with everyone else trying to search for the keys, the senses say it is not existent. However, Berkeley states that things stick around and they don’t just disappear so there must be an outside observer, one we cannot see, that can attend to everything in the universe even when nobody else is.

He also extends Locke’s idea of primary and secondary qualities. Shape and size are characteristics of primary qualities. However, Berkeley argues that the size of the object depends on the distance between the observer and the object. Since the object is a different size to different observers, then size is not a quality of the object. Work Cited: http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=r3QZ2Ko-FOg http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/David_Hume http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=X-buzVjYQvY http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/George_Berkeley.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 4 November 2016

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