Explore BrainMass

David Hume's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding"

Hello, I've just started reading David Hume's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding" and I'm trying to figure out why Hume argues (look in part 1 of Section 4) that knowledge of "causes & effects" can't be gained through reason alone? Why can't it be? I think it's logical that reason works alone sufficiently. Please explain without using Cliff notes or Spark notes ...just plain, simple language would be appreciated.

Solution Preview

<br>There is a lot that could be said on this topic - I'll try to stick to plain language.
<br>The first thing to note is that Hume is an empiricist (not plain language - but I'll try to explain!). An empiricist explains knowledge in terms of our experience. This is close to the method of the scientist. The scientist tries to find patterns and explanations that can be confirmed by experience. You can think of Hume's position on causes and effects as something like the approach of the scientist.
<br>[A brief digression may be useful here. Arguments can be divided into two types, inductive and deductive. An inductive argument looks at what you have experienced in the past, and then draws a conclusion about what you will experience in the future. If all of the swans you have seen so far in your life are white, then inductively you can argue that the next swan you will see will be white. (But, perhaps the next swan you will see is black - inductive arguments aren't certain). Deductive arguments are based on logic. If all ...