Hume

Hume

The complexity of human perception of the surrounding reality was always in the focus of attention of many philosophers. In such a context, Hume develops the problem of induction, which he explains from a nominalist point of view, according to which all human ideas are ideas of particular entities, qualities and relations are inductive and cannot be rationally justified (Hume, 345). In such a way, Hume rejected the view of the surrounding reality as a whole, instead he believed that people perceive the reality through particular subjects or entities they are familiar with or experienced in the course of their life. At the same time, David Hume focuses his attention on the problem of inductive inferences, which play the key part in understanding of his concept of induction. To put it more precisely, David Hume stands on the ground that induction is based on inductive interference. The latter implies reasoning from the observed behavior of objects to their behavior when unobserved.
Basically, on analyzing the concept of induction, David Hume focuses his attention on the question of how things behave when they go “beyond the present testimony of the senses, and the records of our memory” (Hume, 334). He underlines s that humans believe that things behave in a regular manner. This is exactly where the problem arise since, according to Hume, people cannot rationally justify that nature will continue to be uniform. Therefore, things can potentially change their behavior. At this point, demonstrative reasoning and probable reasoning come into clashes. On the one hand, demonstrative reasoning leads people to the understanding that uniformity principle cannot be demonstrated, while, on the other hand, probable reasoning implies that people cannot hold that nature will continue to be uniform (Hume, 351). In such a way, Hume arrives to the major problem of induction – circular reasoning.
In fact, David Hume argues that there is nothing universal in the world (345) and people cannot perceive the surrounding reality as a whole, as some universal concept. Instead, they need some associations with particulars which they are familiar with and which they know about on the basis of their personal experience. In such a way, it is possible to estimate that David Hume widely uses the concept of associative thinking which is actually typical for humans. Hence, people perceive the surrounding world and surrounding reality on the basis of associations. At this point, it is possible to refer to David Hume’s idea that “most of our general ideas… we abstract from every particular degree of quantity and quality” (346).
David Hume suggests several arguments in favor his views on reasoning power of humans, which are crucial for the concept of induction. First of all, he argues that it is “utterly impossible to conceive any quantity or quality without forming a precise notion of its degrees” (Hume, 346). In other words, he underlines that the whole or the general is perceived through its particulars.
Secondly, David Hume argues that though “the capacity of the mind by not infinite, yet we can at once form a notion of all possible degrees of quantity and quality” (346). In actuality, this postulates supports and complements the aforementioned one and basically David Hume suggests that the human perception of the surrounding world is limited by the capacity of human mind.
Furthermore, David Hume reveals a paradox that “some ideas are particular in their nature, but general in their representation” (348). What is meant here is the fact that people often operates with general notions in regard to the surrounding reality. Therefore, they demonstrative reasoning needs evidence on the basis of which they can make judgments on behavior of things. However, returning to the problem of circular reasoning, which is the central problem of induction to Hume, people can never be sure that the behavior of things will never change in the future.
In such a context, Hume logically argues that it is impossible to give it up because circular reasoning will keep going constantly. Obviously, people cannot stop either demonstrative reasoning or probable reasoning. As a result, at the perceptual level, people will observe behavior of things being uniform, but, at the same time, people will always doubt that the uniformity and regularity can be changed somehow in the future.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that David Hume stands on the ground that the human perception of the surrounding reality is grounded on particulars, through which people can perceive the surrounding world as a whole, but there are no general notions and concepts because all of them can be viewed in degrees of quality and quantity. In such a way, human perception of the reality is purely inductive. At the same time, the central problem of induction is the circular reasoning which prevents people from believing in the uniformity of behavior of things since there is always probable reasoning which implies that in the future the regular behavior can be changed.

Works Cited:
Hume, D. Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. New York: Penguin Classics, 2004.
Hume, D. “Reading 37: Particulars Are Real.” In Gould, J.A. and R.J. Mulvaney (Eds.). Classic Philosophical Questions. 12th ed. New York: Random House, 2006.