The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Humean Predicament

What is the predicament referred to in the heading of this blog? One of Hume's overarching theses is that many of our basic entrenched beliefs lack rational grounds. We can, however, better understand their nature by investigating their causes. These causes are often rooted in custom, habit, or sentiment, and have little or nothing to do with logical derivation.

This is indeed a kind of skepticism, but it is not the most far-sweeping kind. Some hardcore philosophical skeptics would argue that one ought to purge all belief lacking rational grounds, as though this were even possible. Hume recognized that purging fundamental beliefs about the external world and morality, to name a few examples, is easier said than done. We just might as well recognize them for what they are. I guess there are worse predicaments to be in.