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Essay sample on Hume
Hume himself makes a much more thorough attempt to avoid that pre-determination of feelings by the conception of a world, of things and relations, which is implied in the view of them as permanent facts. He will not, if he can help it, so openly depart from the original doctrine that thought is merely weaker sense. Such conceptions as those of the uniformity of nature and of reality, being no possible 'impressions or ideas,' he only professes to admit in a character wholly different from that in which they actually govern inductive philosophy. Just as by reality he understands not something to which liveliness of feeling may be an index, but simply that liveliness itself, and by an inferred or believed reality a feeling to which this liveliness has been communicated from one that already has it; so he is careful to tell us 'that the supposition that the future resembles the past is derived entirely from habit, by which we are determined to expect for the future the same train of objects to which we have been accustomed.' The supposition then is this 'determination,' this 'propensity,' to expect. Any 'idea' derived from the propensity can only be the propensity itself at a fainter stage; and between such a propensity and the conception of 'nature,' whether as uniform or otherwise, there is a difference which only the most hasty reader can be liable to ignore. But if by any confusion an expectation of future feelings, determined by the remembrance of past feelings, could be made equivalent to any conception of nature, it would not be of nature as uniform. As is the 'habit' which determines the expectation, such must be the expectation itself; and as have been the sequences of feeling in each man's past, such must be the habit which results from them. Now no one's feelings have always occurred to him in the same relative order. There may be some pairs of feelings of which one has always been felt before the other and never after it, and between which there has never been an intervention of a third--although (to take Hume's favourite instance) even the feeling of heat may sometimes precede the sight of the flame—and in these cases upon occurrence of one there will be nothing to qualify the expectation of the other. But just so far as there are exceptions in our past experience to the immediate sequence of one feeling upon another, must there be a qualification of our expectation of the future, if it be undetermined by extraneous conceptions, with reference to those particular feelings.
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