Skip to main content

The Three Amigos

I employed the last three blog entries to discuss a book that offers a much-contested interpretation of  certain critical passages in the writings of David Hume.

The conclusion of it was that Galen Strawson sees a closer relationship amongst Berkeley, Hume, and Kant than many other commenters do. He sees a single message coming from the three of them.

I'm going beyond Strawson now, but I'll try to formulate the philosophy of these amigos in a series of propositions.

1. The world we unreflexively think we're living in is real only in a conditional sense, it is less than fully real.

2. Since our intellect and senses are adapted for [or to] this living world, we are definitionally not adapted to comprehension of the fully real world.

3. It is reasonable to expect that in that Really Real world there exists a relationship of cause and effect, though as implied in (2) there is much we cannot know about that.

4. One possibility we might imagine (though we may not claim to know it) about the Really real world is that it centers on a deep cosmic intelligence, a God, with whom we are all in direct contact, for he sends us the ideas that we mistake for self-standing material objects.

5. It is possible to do more than imagine this, (4) but to believe in it, to have faith in it. It simply isn't possible to know it to be the case.

Is that unified vision of the world as it appeared to these three thinkers an appealing one to us in the 21st century?

Probably not. One problem: doesn't it amount to postulating a God who is at work deceiving us? Isn't that uncomfortably akin to the creature Descartes worried about, a malicious deceiving demon?

"Demon, be thou my God." Is that the gist?


Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…