PHILOSOPHY – Epistemology: Hume's Skepticism and Induction, Part 1 [HD]



my name is Daniel Greco and I'm an assistant professor of philosophy at Yale University today's video will concern a topic in epistemology which is the branch of philosophy that deals with the study of knowledge in particular I'll discuss a version of skepticism which is the idea that we know a lot less than we ordinarily take ourselves to the sort of skepticism all discussed is due to David Hume who is an 18th century Scottish philosopher and historian and it targets our knowledge of the unobserved to get clearer about just what that amounts to love to start with some examples so we ordinarily take ourselves to know lots about things that we haven't directly observed for instance I take it that I know that blue whales are the largest animals on earth I bet you know that too I take it I know that the Alpha Centauri system is the nearest star system to our own I take it I know that there was a man named Napoleon who conquered much of Europe I also take it I know when the next American presidential election will be none of these are things that I've directly observed I haven't seen any blue whales certainly haven't seen all other animals on earth to compare them to I never met Napoleon and I haven't observed anything in 2016 yet and yet I and I take it you ordinarily take myself to know all sorts of things about these matters so how do we know these things about stuff that we haven't yet observed in some cases it seems pretty easy for instance I know that all triangles even triangles I haven't yet observed have three sides or I know that next year if I have two apples and two oranges I'll have four pieces of fruit what's special about these cases that makes them so easy to know the way that you'll put it they express relations of ideas a relation of ideas is something whose denial is inconceivable or self contradictory try to imagine a two-sided triangle take it you can't do it or try to imagine a situation where I have two apples and two oranges nothing else but where I don't have four pieces of fruit again I suspect you're going to have trouble here's another way of getting at this same idea relations of ideas have to be true no matter how the world turns out they're necessary truths so what does it take to know claims like this what does it take to know relations of ideas to quote Hume he said that propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mirror operation of thought without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe and what does that mean why does he think it's true I take it the idea is something like this if some claim is a relation of ideas then it will be true no matter what the world is like so in order to know that it's true we don't need to go out and gather evidence about what the world is like the evidence might tell us the world is this way rather than that way but no matter what way the world is like all triangles will have three sides two pieces of fruit and another two pieces of we'll make four pieces of fruit so if anything at all is required to know that a relation of ideas is true it's just understanding it this is what Hume called the mirror operation of thought that's enough to see that it has to be true and so to know that it's true okay contrast relations of ideas with another class of claims that Hume called matters of fact so for example as I now make this video it's raining outside or here's another one I have a fluffy puppy so these claims are true both of them but their denials are not inconceivable or contradictory the mirror operation of thought isn't enough to get us knowledge of their truth you could easily imagine that it's sunny outside in fact maybe as you listen to this video it is or you could imagine that I have no pets at all including no fluffy puppy even though in fact I do so because these claims have denials that aren't contradictory because you can conceive that they're false it's not enough to just understand what they mean to see that they're true you have to go out and make some observation see that the world is one way rather than another way so these matters of fact contrast with relations of ideas and what it takes to know that this distinction that Hume is getting at between relations of ideas and matters effect is closely related to what was later called the distinction between the a priori and the out mysterio by a manual cont you

36 thoughts on “PHILOSOPHY – Epistemology: Hume's Skepticism and Induction, Part 1 [HD]

  1. a triangle is a triangle because humans defined it as having three sides, therefore, all triangles must have three sides, otherwise it is not a triangle

  2. what kind of argument did Thomas Reid had on David Hume's skepticism? I am reading 'An Inquiry into the Human Mind' and talks a lot about common sense and I am just completely lost.

  3. The problem is you can’t know whether your thoughts are operating properly and you can’t know whether your senses are observing reliably in order to reason at all without external input from someone who knows everything and is able to make you know some things by some power.

  4. Mathematics are no truths, it is definitions of created "truths" — consensus.

    And there is nothing that I KNOW, only stuff I choose to believe or acquiesce to the greater common sense.

  5. Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am". Hume is merely saying the same thing. Then again, Rudolf Steiner clearly states that to really come to the fundamental basis of epistemology, one needs to start from the point of where knowledge hasnt come into being. In other words, ascend to the realm where knowledge descends from. Otherwise all knowledge in this world is simply a result of human activity and interactions. In some ways we will find ourselves steeped in what Rudolf Steiner calls Intellectual Abstractions

  6. mathematical truths such as 2+2=4 aren't true because we cannot conceive their being false, consider 2+2=5, but due to definition and derivage relative to existing definitions, consider the operation of adding ropes to each other by tying them together: each operand represents the number of knots in the ropes being tied together and the result is the number of knots in the rope you are left with after tying them together, by this, tying a rope with 2 knots to a rope with 2 knots yields a rope with 5 knots, thereby making an addition where 2+2=5

  7. So he's an empiricist who believes that the world is best understood through rational thought? Isn't that an odd combination?

  8. Summary:
    Relations of ideas are statements that are necessarily true. All it takes to know them is understanding and thought, and it is inconceivable that they should be false.
    Matters of fact rely on observation for us to see that they are true.

    I guess the main idea is to make us aware of this distinction so we can better judge what we truly know

  9. You forget to mention the seven philosophical relations, that compone the relations of idea and the matters of fact, I think they are esential to understand this two concepts.

  10. A scientific proof begins with a review of literature that examines relations of ideas, showing that a certain outcome is at least highly plausible. Then comes a demonstration of fact. It is true in fact as well as in idea. We come away convinced that what might have appeared only an empirical truth also expresses a necessary harmony of ideas.

  11. it's 1am and i'm trying to study for my philosophy exam…..thanks you're really helpful!! also i like your pup hehe

  12. What if I curved one of those lines connected it and called that a triangle with 2 sides? It would be a crescent so I would be wrong, but I've still done what you said I can't do and what if others agreed with me? Then I would be right and you would be wrong. Triangles are only triangles because we all agree what that word means. There's no magic that allows us to know things just because we've made a word that can only mean one thing.

    Let me show you by example. Say I take 2 electrons and 2 photons and ask you to count them. Will you count to 4 for sure? No. The rules of the world are not the same on that level and at a given moment these 4 particle-waves might add up to 3 or 5 or any number you like. Just because you didn't manage to imagine how something can add up in a different way doesn't mean you have discovered a truth about the universe.

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