Free Comparison Essays
Free comparison essays
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Comparison essay sample:
The fallacy of Hume's doctrine of causation is merely an aggravated form of that which has generally passed muster in his doctrine of time. If time, because a relation between feelings, can be supposed to survive the exclusion of a thinking self and the reduction of the world and mind to a succession of feelings, the relation of cause and effect has only to be assimilated to that of time in order that its in compatibility with the desired reduction may disappear. The great obstacle to such assimilation lies in that opposition to the mere sequence of feelings which causation as 'matter of fact'—as that in discovering which we 'discover the real existence and relations of objects '—purports to carry with it. Why do we set aside our usual experience as delusive in contrast with the exceptional experience of the laboratory— why do we decide that an event which has seemed to happen cannot really have happened, because under the given conditions no adequate cause of it could have been operative—if the relation of cause and effect is itself merely a succession of seemings, repeated so often as to leave behind it a lively expectation of its recurrence? This question, once fairly put, cannot be answered: it can only be evaded. It is Hume's method of evasion that we have now more particularly to notice.
In its detailed statement it is very different from the method adopted in those modern treatises of Logic which, beginning with the doctrine that facts are merely feelings in the constitution of which thought has no share, still contrive to make free use in their logical canon of the antithesis between the real and apparent. The key to this modern method is to be found in its ambiguous use of the term 'phenomenon,' alike for the feeling as it is felt, 'perishing' when it ceases to be felt, and for the feeling as it is for a thinking subject—a qualifying and qualified element in a permanent world. Only if facts were 'phenomena' in the former sense would the antithesis between facts and conceptions be valid ; only if 'phenomena' are understood in the latter sense can causation be said to be a law of phenomena. So strong, however, is the charm which this ambiguous term has exercised, that to the ordinary modern logician the question above put may probably seem unmeaning.
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