An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding By David Hume

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The Medium to Grasp the Future In Section IV of An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume, Hume provides argument that will outline that any conclusions about the future based on past experience are limited to being just probable suppositions, because all arguments that claim to know the future impacts of an object’s “secret powers” (Hume 21) are based in assumption. By “secret powers” (Hume 21), Hume means those abilities of an object, such as a loaf of bread, to “support… a human body.” (Hume 21) The bases for Hume’s claims are in the question he posits asking, “What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience?” (Hume 20) In other words, Hume seeks to find the substance or grounding of conclusions that are formed…show more content…
A means by which the barrier that separates the past from the future can be broken down thus giving inferences or conclusions from experience grounding in reason as opposed to being just probable statements. He goes on to provide the reason for which arguments that claim to “foresee”(Hume 22) are limited to probability. His reasoning is that these arguments intend to prove that the future will look like the past, yet do so by assuming that “the future will be conformable to the past”(Hume 23) thus plaguing them with circuitous logic. (Hume 23) What Hume means is that the point in question which is sought to be resolved, is done so by assuming that this point will hold true, thus using the assumption that something will hold true to prove that this same thing will hold true. Additionally, this argument’s grounding in an assumption which may or may not hold true, makes it probable due to its foundation built on a probable factor, almost like a tower built on sand. Hume’s negative argument for reasoned foresight based in experience hinges upon the claim that these arguments lack a “medium”(Hume 22) by which the future can be shown to be conformable to the past, stating that these arguments are based in assumptions, which make them nothing more than probable. (Hume 20-24) This is a very strong argument by Hume because he calls for a positive argument that provides a “medium” (Hume 22), which can perform the vital task of
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