Announcements • For Thursday’s class read Hume’s ‘Of Personal Identity’ and sections 9-11 in the Enquiry • The first paper is due next Tuesday. Since we are running a little behind I am willing to discuss an extension. So let’s discuss. • By tomorrow at 10pm there will be posted this week’s tutorial exercises – review questions. Please print them and bring them to class.
Section Seven: Part One • Necessary Connection, Causality and Power • ‘There are no ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, that those of power, force, energy, or necessary connexion of which it is every moment necessary for us to treat in all our disquisitions. We shall, therefore, endeavour, in this section, to fix, if possible, the precise meaning of these terms, and thereby remove some part of that obscurity, which is so much complained of in this species of philosophy.’ (40)
The Agenda • When I see a cause-effect relation happen such as when one billiard ball impacts another, I seem to believe that there must be some necessity there. There must be ‘something’ there in the cause that necessarily leads it to this effect and just this effect: some kind of power. • Yet we saw in the last section that a cause is logically distinct from its effect. There is no contradiction involved in a cause being attended with a variety of effects.
The Agenda • Furthermore, this is not just a mere logical possibility – experience appears to teach us the same thing. • But then, what is the source of this idea, of this belief in necessity and such unobservable secret powers at play? • Where did I get this idea of power and necessary connection? • How do we begin to answer this question?
The method • How do we begin? As to be expected, from the empiricist criterion of meaning: from what impressions does it arise from? • ‘It seems a proposition, which will no admit of much dispute, that all our ideas are nothing but copies of our impressions, or, in other words, that it is impossible for us to think of any thing, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or internal senses.’(41)
Objective? Observed? • Is such an idea objective? Do we ever observe such necessity or power by which a cause must lead to an effect? • No. • ‘When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connexion; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infallible consequence of the other.’ (41)
Objective? Observed? • Pay close attention to what you observe. • When one observes one ball hitting another and thereby moving it, that is what is observed. We don’t see any metaphysical glue or cement by which it is required that the other ball must move in the direction it did. • I observe such regular behaviour but that’s it. My ideas of some kind of necessity inherent in such behaviour does not therefore, come from such observations. It is rather inserted into the observation.
Subjective? • So it is not objective. Therefore, it must be subjective. Yes, but in what sense? What is its reality, if it has one? • We continue to look for our impression but now inside of ourselves. Something doesn’t have ‘reality’ unless we can point to its corresponding impression that gave rise to it. • Immediately two sources presents themselves to us as possible sources for such an impression: (1) our wills, the power to move; (2) the power over our thoughts.
The will? • Maybe our ideas of power, necessary connection and causality comes from there. Maybe in the experience of our will we have such an impression. • I want to move my arm and I do it. Isn’t that ‘power’? Isn’t there a ‘necessary connection’ experienced? • ‘The motion of our body follows upon the command of our will. Of this we are every moment conscious. But the means, by which….
The will? • ….this is effected; the energy, by which the will performs so extraordinary an operation; of this we are so far from being immediately conscious, that it must for ever escape our most diligent enquiry.’ (43) • We know our wills, the movements we make, not by being acquainted with any power but only from experience itself. • We do not have any knowledge here of power or necessary connection though it seems to us that we do.
The Will? • Three arguments given: • (1) If we had any clear ideal or impression of such a power or necessary connection, or any idea/impression, we should be able to solve the mind-body problem. We know the power, the necessary connection, so why is the mind-body problem still a problem, even a mystery? – p.43. • (2) If we had any idea/impression of such a power or necessary connection, then it should be obvious to us why we are able to move our arms but not…
The Will? • …our liver. Furthermore, • (ii) this obviousness since it is the result of us being acquainted with and knowing such a power should be known without and experience required – i.e., of what in fact can be moved or not. However none of this is the case – p.43. • Furthermore, (iii) were we acquainted with such a power then when we lose it such as the case of the paralytic we would not try ‘to move them [our limbs] and employ them in their usual offices.’ (43)
The Will? • We wouldn’t need a trial and error method nor would we make any discoveries here: we would realize straightaway the absence of this power and necessary connection since we would no longer be receiving its impression. • (3) But I want to move my arm and I do. But that’s the problem. I just do it. I am utterly unaware of all the required intermediary steps and processes. If I knew this power or had its impression, I should be aware of all such intermediary steps.
The Will? • ‘Here the mind wills a certain event: Immediately another event, unknown to ourselves, and totally different from the one intended, is produced: This event produces another, equally unknown…But if the original power were felt, it must be known: were it known, its effect must also be known; since all power is relative to its effect. And vice versa, if the effect be not known, the power cannot be known nor felt.’ (44)
The Will? • We will one event but unknown to us we are actually doing another. I move my arm – I am contracting muscles, firing neurons etc. But I do not know how to contract muscles but I learn how to do so when I move my arm. Yet the contracting of such muscles is what is most immediate in the causal chain so you would think that that is what I would know first.
Control over our own thoughts? • So now we turn to the control over our own thoughts. How about the power of the will to produce ideas? A similar argument pattern arises. • (1) We are aware of thinking and the connections amongst our thoughts. But how they come into being?-p.45 • (2) The command over our thoughts is limited. With enough mental discipline we may be able to train ourselves to think thoughts that we believe to be beneficial; however, (a) this requires training…
Control over our own thoughts • …and is often a struggle; (b) requires experience. With (a) and (b) we have no idea of why that is the case. We should have such an idea if we were acquainted with an impression of power or necessary connection here. Do we ever observe how or why one negative/hopeful thought leads to another? Or what do we mean when we state that thoughts ‘pop into our head’? Of we are serious about this last statement it shows that we are not aware of the underlying power.
Control over our thoughts • Or suppose that you are writing a midterm and have a song ‘running’ through your head that you don’t really want since you desire to concentrate on the midterm itself. Are we aware of why that is the case? • (3) This self-command is very different at different times. Do we know why? Why is it at times we seem to have no difficulty focusing on certain matters while at other times the mind ‘strays’? If we had the kind of command of the…
Control over our own thoughts? • ….will or acquaintance with this power and necessary connection, none of this would be problematic. • Lastly, Hume looks at a doctrine called ‘occasionalism’ • The idea of power, necessary connection and causality comes from God in that God does all the work – moves the billiard ball when it has been impacted by another, provides for the union of soul and body – i.e., when you touch a flame it is…
Occasionalism • …not the flame that hurts, but God brings about the pain, etc. • Pretty hopeless doctrine. • It doesn’t shed light on anything. God, if he exists, is quite beyond us to determine whether such a miraculous, ‘fairy land’ theory is correct, much less determine a clear idea or impression. • So we are still left wondering how we came across this idea, from what impression • It is not objective – not observed.
From Where? • It is not subjective – we do not have any such inner impression. • Therefore, there is no such impression of necessary connection or any such power. • So what is its status? Where did it come from? The answer is in part two
Section Seven Part Two and Section Eight • Class Handout.