A Treatise of Human Nature.
BOOK I. OF THE UNDERSTANDING
which to judge of causes and effects.
'tis possible for
all objects to become causes or effects to each other, it may be
proper to fix some general rules, by which we may know when
they really are so.
- The cause and effect must be
contiguous in space and time.
- The cause must be prior to
- There must be a constant union
betwixt the cause and effect. 'Tis chiefly this quality,
that constitutes the relation.
- The same cause always produces the
same effect, and the same effect never arises but from
the same cause. . .
- . . . where several different objects
produce the same effect, it must be by means of some quality,
which we discover to be common amongst them. . .
- . . . The difference in the effects
of two resembling objects must proceed from that particular, in
which they differ. . .
- When any object encreases or diminishes
with the encrease or diminution of its cause, 'tis to be
regarded as a compound effect, deriv'd from the union of
the several different effects, which arise from the several
different parts of the cause. . .
- . . . an object which exists for any time
in its full perfection without any effect, is not the sole
cause of that effect, but requires to be assisted by some
other principle, which may forward its influence and operation.
Here is all
the LOGIC I think proper to employ in my reasoning . . ."1a
"We have no perfect idea of any thing
but of a perception."1b
. . . [A]n
object may exist, and yet be no where: and I assert, that this
is not only possible, but that the greatest part of beings do and
must exist after this manner."1c
Concerning Human Understanding.
. . . [W]e
may divide all the perceptions of the mind into two classes
of species . . . The less forcible and lively are commonly
denominated Thoughts or Ideas. The other
species . . . Let us . . . call them Impressions . .
. By the term impression . . . I mean all our more lively
perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate, or
desire, or will."2a
. . . [N]ature
has established connexions among particular ideas,
and that no sooner one idea occurs to our thoughts than it
introduces its correlative, and carries our attention
towards it . . . These principles of connexion or
association we have reduced to three, namely,
Resemblance, Contiguity and Causation;
which are the only bonds that unite our thoughts together,
and beget that regular train of reflection or discourse, which, in
a greater or less degree, takes place among all mankind."2b
"This transition of thought from
the cause to the effect proceeds not from
reason. It derives its origin altogether from custom
"To begin with clear and self-evident
principles, to advance by timorous and sure steps, to
review frequently our conclusions, and examine
accurately all their consequences; though by these means we
shall make both a slow and a short progress in our systems; are
the only methods, by which we can ever hope to reach
truth, and attain a proper stability and
certainty in our determinations."2d
. . . [T]here
is no such thing as abstract or general ideas . . ."2e
"Whatever is may not be.
No negation of a fact can involve a contradiction. The
non-existence of any being, without exception, is as clear and
distinct an idea as its existence."2f
"Mankind are, in all ages, caught by the same baits: the
same tricks played over and over again, still trepan them."3
David Hume (1711-1776). A Treatise
of Human Nature. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.,
2003. [Slightly altered republication of the work published by
Oxford at the Clarendon Press, London, 1888, itself a reprint of
the original edition in three volumes published in London,
BOOK I. Of the Understanding.
PART III. Of knowledge and probability.
a XV. Rules by which to judge of
causes and effects, at 124-125.
Part IV. Of the sceptical and other systems of philosophy
b V. Of the immateriality of the soul, at 167.
c Ibid., 168.
David Hume (!711-1776).
An Enquiry Concerning Human
NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2004. [Unabridged republication of
the work originally published in
English Philosophers of the
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
by O. F. colliers & Son Corporation, New York, 1910.]
a II. Of the Origin of Ideas, at 9.
b V. Sceptical Solutions of
These Doubts, at 31.
c Ibid., at 33-34.
d XII. Of the Academical or
Sceptical Philosophy, at 97.
e Ibid., at 102.
Ibid., at 106.
3 David Hume (1711-1776). Selected
Essays (1741-1742). Edited with an Introduction by Stephen Copley and Andrew
Edgar, 1993. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, at 214.