The Price of Doubt (International Library of Philosophy)

Manual The Price of Doubt (International Library of Philosophy)
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Radical Skepticism and the Shadow of Doubt

Beyond Good and Evil Penguin Classics. The Nicomachean Ethics Penguin Classics. Thus Spoke Zarathustra Penguin Classics.

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Discourses and Selected Writings Penguin Classics. Meditations : Popular Penguins Popular Penguins. The Republic Penguin Classics. Meditations Penguin Classics. Because of the conspicuous role that nationalisms, populisms, and fundamentalisms have in our globalizing world it is essential not to take their strength for granted, but to acknowledge that conviction and doubt are part of the same dynamic.

The chapters in this volume demonstrate that doubt and hesitation are daily concerns even among the Maoist movement in India, right-wing populists in Europe and newly pious Somali Muslims in London. In fact, new converts are often such stringent believers precisely because they need to dispel their own lingering doubts, while revolutionary movements survive only through the denial of ambiguity.

By studying everyday doubt this volume unravels the mechanisms by which convictions gain and lose their force, and analyzes the dynamics that propel loosely held ideas into committed action. Whereas a focus on overcoming doubt highlights the exclusionary effects of committed action, attention to the breakdown of belief serves to better understand the cycles of hope, conviction, and disillusion that bespeak the human condition. This is the central theme in several chapters looking at ideological break-down. The first two are easy to explain.

Priority traces back to our various experiences of time.

Proximity traces back to our various experiences of space. But what is the experience which gives us the idea of necessary connection? We have no external sensory impression of causal power when we observe cause-effect relationships; all that we ever see is cause A constantly conjoined with effect B. Neither does it arise from an internal impression, such as when we introspectively reflect on willed bodily motions or willing the creation of thoughts.

These internal experiences are too elusive, and nothing in them can give content to our idea of necessary connection. This produces a habit such that upon any further appearance of A, we expect B to follow. He explains this mistaken belief by the natural tendency we have to impute subjectively perceived qualities to external things Treatise , 1. His explanation is lengthy, but involves the following features. Perceptions of objects are disjointed and have no unity in and of themselves Treatise , 1. We then conflate all ideas of perceptions , which put our minds in similar dispositions Treatise , 1.

Consequently, we naturally invent the continued and external existence of the objects or perceptions that produced these ideas Treatise , 1. Lastly, we go on to believe in the existence of these objects because of the force of the resemblance between ideas Treatise , 1. Although this belief is philosophically unjustified, Hume feels he has given an accurate account of how we inevitably arrive at the idea of external existence.

The psychological motivation for accepting this view is this: our imagination tells us that resembling perceptions have a continued existence, yet our reflection tells us that they are interrupted.

About Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Nicholas Nathan is University Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. The Price of Doubt (International Library of Philosophy) 1st Edition. by Nicholas Nathan (Author). ISBN ISBN

Appealing to both forces, we ascribe interruption to perceptions and continuance to objects Treatise , 1. Because of the associative principles, the resemblance or causal connection within the chain of my perceptions gives rise to an idea of myself, and memory extends this idea past my immediate perceptions Treatise , 1.

These motives produce actions that have the same causal necessity observed in cause-effect relations that we see in external objects, such as when billiard ball A strikes and moves billiard ball B. In the same way, we regularly observe the rock-solid connection between motive A and action B, and we rely on that predictable connection in our normal lives.

Suppose that a traveler, in recounting his observation of the odd behavior of natives in a distant country, told us that identical motives led to entirely different actions among these natives.

The Skeptical Enlightenment

View on sap. As these grounds are mainly aspects of elephants' external niche, however, rather than known limitations in their inboard cognitive or representational capacities, the surprising conclusion emerges that elephants might acquire FHSC, and thereby become persons, if they can be brought into conversation with humans, a possibility opened by considerations canvassed in the paper. Sankara has kept the flame alive. Ruccio eds. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. The beliefs could after all be dispositional.

In business, politics, and military affairs, our leaders expect predicable behavior from us insofar as the same motives within us will always result in us performing the same action. A prisoner who is soon to be executed will assume that the motivations and actions of the prison guards and the executioner are so rigidly fixed that these people will mechanically carry out their duties and perform the execution, with no chance of a change of heart Treatise , 2. One explanation is that people erroneously believe they have a feeling of liberty when performing actions.

In the Treatise Hume rejects the notion of liberty completely.

Philosophy of Economics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

In the Enquiry , however, he takes a more compatiblist approach. Nothing in this definition of liberty is in conflict with the notion of necessity. In all of the above discussions on epistemological topics, Hume performs a balancing act between making skeptical attacks step 1 and offering positive theories based on natural beliefs step 2. In the conclusion to Book 1, though, he appears to elevate his skepticism to a higher level and exposes the inherent contradictions in even his best philosophical theories.

David Hume (1711—1776)

He notes three such contradictions. One centers on what we call induction. Our judgments based on past experience all contain elements of doubt; we are then impelled to make a judgment about that doubt, and since this judgment is also based on past experience it will in turn produce a new doubt. Once again, though, we are impelled to make a judgment about this second doubt, and the cycle continues.

One is our natural inclination to believe that we are directly seeing objects as they really are, and the other is the more philosophical view that we only ever see mental images or copies of external objects. The third contradiction involves a conflict between causal reasoning and belief in the continued existence of matter.

After listing these contradictions, Hume despairs over the failure of his metaphysical reasoning:. The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another [ Treatise , 1. He then pacifies his despair by recognizing that nature forces him to set aside his philosophical speculations and return to the normal activities of common life. He sees, though, that in time he will be drawn back into philosophical speculation in order to attack superstition and educate the world.

However, during the course of his writing the Treatise his view of the nature of these contradictions changed. At first he felt that these contradictions were restricted to theories about the external world, but theories about the mind itself would be free from them, as he explains here:. The essence and composition of external bodies are so obscure, that we must necessarily, in our reasonings, or rather conjectures concerning them, involve ourselves in contradictions and absurdities. But as the perceptions of the mind are perfectly known, and I have us'd all imaginable caution in forming conclusions concerning them, I have always hop'd to keep clear of those contradictions, which have attended every other system [ Treatise , 2.

When composing the Appendix to the Treatise a year later, he changed his mind and felt that theories about the mind would also have contradictions:.

I had entertained some hopes, that however deficient our theory of the intellectual world might be, it wou'd be free from those contradictions, and absurdities, which seem to attend every explication, that human reason can give of the material world. But upon a more strict review of the section concerning I find myself involv'd in such a labyrinth, that, I must confess, I neither know how to correct my former opinions, nor how to render them consistent.

If this be not a good general reason for scepticism, 'tis at least a sufficient one if I were not already abundantly supplied for me to entertain a diffidence and modesty in all my decisions [ Treatise , Appendix]. Thus, in the Treatise , the skeptical bottom line is that even our best theories about both physical and mental phenomena will be plagued with contradictions. In the concluding section of his Enquiry , Hume again addresses the topic of skepticism, but treats the matter somewhat differently: he rejects extreme skepticism but accepts skepticism in a more moderate form.

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He associates extreme Pyrrhonian skepticism with blanket attacks on all reasoning about the external world, abstract reasoning about space and time, or causal reasoning about matters of fact. Like many philosophers of his time, Hume developed a theory of the passions—that is, the emotions —categorizing them and explaining the psychological mechanisms by which they arise in the human mind.

His most detailed account is in Book Two of the Treatise. Passions, according to Hume, fall under the category of impressions of reflection as opposed to impressions of sensation. He opens his discussion with a taxonomy of types of passions, which are outlined here:. He initially divides passions between the calm and the violent. He concedes that this distinction is imprecise, but he explains that people commonly distinguish between types of passions in terms of their degrees of forcefulness. Adding more precision to this common distinction, he maintains that calm passions are emotional feelings of pleasure and pain associated with moral and aesthetic judgments.

Jean Bodin (c. 1529—1596)

For example, when I see a person commit a horrible deed, I will experience a feeling of pain. When I view a good work of art, I will experience a feeling of pleasure.

About the Book

In contrast to the calm passions, violent ones constitute the bulk of our emotions, and these divide between direct and indirect passions. For Hume, the key direct passions are desire, aversion, joy, grief, hope, and fear. For example, if I consider an unpleasant thing, such as being burglarized, then I will feel the passion of aversion. Others, though, are not connected with instinct and are more the result of social conditioning. There is an interesting logic to the six direct passions, which Hume borrowed from a tradition that can be traced to ancient Greek Stoicism.

We can diagram the relation between the six with this chart:.

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Compare, for example, the passions that I will experience regarding winning the lottery vs. I will then desire to win the lottery and have an aversion towards being burglarized. Suppose that both situations are actually before me; I will then experience joy over winning the lottery and grief over being burglarized. Suppose, finally, that I know that at some unknown time in the future I will win the lottery and be burglarized.

I will then experience hope regarding the lottery and fear of being burglarized.