An Analysis of David Hume's Affirmation Essay examples

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David Hume makes a strong affirmation in section IV of an Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hume states, "I shall venture to affirm as a general proposition, which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance attained by reasonings a priori; but entirely from experience." In this statement, when discussing "knowledge of this relation," Hume is referring to the relation between cause and effect. This argument can easily be dismissed as skeptical, for it puts all knowledge of this sort in doubt. However, Hume does not hastily doubt that this knowledge is not a priori, as a skeptic would. Instead Hume offers a sound argument as to why cause and effect knowledge can not be a …show more content…
In addition, any fact will ultimately be dependent on a primary fact, which in turn is founded on cause and effect. It is only after Hume establishes this that he affirms that knowledge of this relation is never attained by reasonings a priori. Knowledge based on cause and effect, for Hume, relies entirely on human experience, and it is for this reason that it can not be a priori. Hume does not blindly state this proposition, he supports it with several examples that I find irrefutable. He suggests that no man when presented with gunpowder can imagine the explosion that can follow.

The same is true when discussing the consequences of releasing a stone from one’s hand. Without prior knowledge, it would be impossible to predict that the stone would fall to the ground. "No object ever discovers, by the qualities that which appear to the senses, either causes which produced it, or the effects which will arise from it; nor can our reason, unassisted by experience, ever draw any inference concerning real existence and matter of fact." It is here that Hume proves that knowledge based on cause and effect relies solely on experience and can not be based on reasonings a priori. Knowledge that is a priori is the exact opposite of knowledge that is obtained through experience. For the very definition of a priori is knowledge that is presupposed as prior to experience. It is apparent, from Hume’s past arguments that
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