In this essay I will attempt to outline and then analyse Hume's treatment of cognitive difficulties and their resolution in his work; 'Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.' As is the demand of this assignment, the focus of this response will be on section IV and V of this Enquiry. I feel however it is necessary for me, in order to deal effectively with this task, to first give a brief outline of sections II and III of this piece. This, I believe is essential to sufficiently disclose the essence of the two relevant sections to this specific project. Before indulging in this task, I will first give a brief biographical summary of the man himself, in order to situate him in both an historical and philosophical context.
David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher and historian. His greatest works include 'A Treatise of Human Nature (1739),' and 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1758),' sections of which will be the focus of this work (1).
Hume is a naturalist. He is concerned with investigating human nature and understanding. He sought to discover the source of our beliefs and the operations of the mind. His predecessors, Locke and Berkeley, both empiricists, had broached the subject of the nature of the human mind. Locke had sought to articulate a general epistemological theory, were as Berkeley aimed to introduce a theory about the nature of knowledge and it's objects (2).
Hume's contribution to philosophy is a theory of human nature, upon which, his theory of morality is based. Logic is the starting point for Hume's science of man. According to Hume, understanding the operations of the mind is crucial to understanding everything else. He proposes that our fundamental beliefs about the world, our selves and morality are not based upon reason but rather,