David Hume's Theory of Causality Essay

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What Came First: The Chicken or the Egg? David Hume moves through a logical progression of the ideas behind cause and effect. He critically analyzes the reasons behind those generally accepted ideas. Though the relation of cause and effect seems to be completely logical and based on common sense, he discusses our impressions and ideas and why they are believed. Hume’s progression, starting with his initial definition of cause, to his final conclusion in his doctrine on causality. As a result, it proves how Hume’s argument on causality follows the same path as his epistemology, with the two ideas complimenting each other so that it is rationally impossible to accept the epistemology and not accept his argument on causality. Hume starts by…show more content…
That argument contradicts itself, because it uses itself as a cause for existence in its premise, when it is proving the concept of cause being a necessity. Therefore, it begs the question to prove cause and effect by relying on the conclusion to prove the premise. The ideas of cause and effect cannot vary too far from actual impressions of the mind or ideas from the memory. We must first establish the existence of causes before we can infer effects from them. We have only two ways of doing that, either by an immediate perception of our memory or senses, called impressions, or, by an inference from other causes, called thoughts. For example, “A man finding a watch or any other machine in a desert island would conclude that there had once been men in that island” (160). Regardless of the source of the impression, the imagination and perceptions of the senses are the foundation for the reasoning that traces the relation of cause and effect. The inference that we draw from cause to effect does not come from a dependence on the two concepts to each other or from a rational objective look at the two. One object does not imply the existence of any other. All distinct ideas are separable, as are the ideas of cause and effect. The only way that we can infer the existence of one object from another is through experience. Contiguity and succession are not sufficient to make us pronounce any two objects to be cause and effect, unless we
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