Descartes And Hume Essay

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There are three ways in which one is able to find truth: through reason (A is A), by utilizing the senses (paper burns) or by faith (God is all loving). As the period of the Renaissance came to a close, the popular paradigm for philosophers shifted from faith to reason and finally settling on the senses. Thinkers began to challenge authorities, including great teachers such as Aristotle and Plato, and through skepticism the modern world began. The French philosopher, René Descartes who implemented reason to find truth, as well as the British empiricist David Hume with his usage of analytic-synthetic distinction, most effectively utilized the practices of skepticism in the modern world.

René Descartes was the first philosopher to
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For in Descartes terms, it was plausible to doubt that one has a body, but impossible to doubt the existence of one’s mind; therefore “…self and mind must be identical” (Palmer 162).

Hume on the other hand, took a different approach to the idea of self. He believed that there in fact was no such thing as selfhood. Instead he asserts that “it must be some one impression, that gives rise to every real idea. But self…is not any one impression, but that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to have a reference…” (597). By this he implies that in order to form concrete ideas, ones impressions of pain, pleasure, joy, etc. must be invariable throughout time. This, Hume states, we know without a doubt to be impossible. Passions succeed each other over time and give rise to new passions, therefore “…it cannot be from any of these impressions…that the idea of self is derived, and consequently there is no such idea” (597).
Although like Descartes, Hume practiced the art of radical skepticism, he felt that if he could not utilize his senses to prove something it was meaningless. Hume continued development of Leibniz’s analytical-synthetic distinction, or in Hume’s words “…a distinction between relations of ideas and matters of fact” (Palmer 197). Analytical propositions are true by definition and are a priori, and therefore necessarily true. Synthetic propositions are not true by
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