Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor J. Noxon
This dissertation is primarily concerned with a discussion of Human skepticism. It is divided into two parts:
Part 1 is concerned with interpretative matters. It is shown that Hume's most characteristic skepticism is to be treated as an intimate part of a system which is concerned with the ramifications of an entirely naturalistic account of man. One of Hume's major concerns, it is argued, is with the production of a naturalistic account of reason, and the skeptical elements of Book I are to be seen entirely as either foundations or by-products of this naturalistic account. It is shown that when they are seen as part and parcel of this naturalistic account of reason, the various levels of Humean skepticism can all be recognised as entirely natural and predictable, not as matters in any respect likely to surprise and baffle the reader who is fully acquainted with Hume's purposes.
During the discussion, remarks are made on alternative interpretations of Hume; on the purpose of philosophy; on the significance of Hume of his empiricist first principles; on the "age of reason"; on the significance of Hume's discussion of the natural beliefs and induction; on his approach to the apodeictic; on his problems with philistinism; on the extension of his analysis of reason in the Dialogues, and on his psychologism.
Part II evaluates the various doctrines uncovered in Part I of the dissertation. It is argued that post-Darwinian thought should embrace much of Hume's naturalistic account of reason, but that the Darwinian framework obviates much of the most objectionable aspects of Hume's defense of his account. The inadequacies of some of Hume's skeptical arguments are made clear, and the strengths of his account are brought into relief. The underlying differences between Hume and his opponents on the nature of reason as a "cosmic" principle are discussed, and Hume is shown to be the victor.
During this discussion, remarks are made on the evolutionary significance of reason; on the nature of the "natural beliefs"--or categorical principles; on the justification of induction; on "natural necessity", the meaning of "brute fact" and the attribution of "rationality" to the non-sentient; on the avoidability of Hume's difficulties with philistinism; on the principle of sufficient reason as the supreme rationalist principle, and on the significance of "system" to explanation.
Keen, Clive Nigel, "Naturalism, Skepticism and Reason in Hume's Treatise" (1975). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 936.