David Hume and Epistemic Skepticism Concerning Religious Miracles Analytical Essay by Righter

David Hume and Epistemic Skepticism Concerning Religious Miracles
This essay discusses Hume's notion of miracles and his skepticism regarding such phenomena.
# 153705 | 3,473 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on Oct 17, 2013 in Philosophy (Religion) , Philosophy (Epistemology)

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This paper explains and evaluates philosopher David Hume's notion of miracles and explores why Hume believes that - for all practical purposes - a genuine miracle has never occurred, and can never occur. The paper goes on to argue that Hume was biased from the start as a non-believer, and his prejudice negatively affected the soundness of parts of his arguments. The paper also highlights how Hume's anti-religious bias reveals why he took such issue with reports of religious miracles. The paper, however, draws the conclusion that while some aspects of his arguments were flawed, the substance of his essay on miracles, as well as the insights contained within it, have stood the test of time.

Hume's Definition of a Miracle
Experience as the Basis for Knowledge
Hume's Criticisms of Metaphysics
Hume's Attack on Religion

From the Paper:

"In Section IV of the Enquiry, the author discussed how we gain knowledge. He stated, "All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact." Relations of ideas, according to Hume, include the sciences and propositions that are "are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent in the universe." Thus, 2 + 3 = 5 would be such a proposition. It is self-evident according to Hume that this mathematical statement is and must be true. Relations concerning matters of fact, however, treat things that are observable in the world, and they are therefore not self-evident. As Hume said, "the contrary of every matter of fact is still possible." What Hume meant by this statement is that, for every matter of fact, we can imagine the opposite without a logical contradiction. For example, to say that if someone let go of a tennis ball, it would move away from the earth as opposed to falling towards it would not entail a logical contradiction: while, the former were to actually happen, it would violate the laws of nature (specifically, gravity), nevertheless we can still imagine the possibility of it occurring. Now all of our ideas come from what Hume called "impressions". These impressions are nothing other than the more or less direct "information" we receivethroughinner and outer means, including emotions like anger and desire, the capacity of the will to make choices and take actions, as well as the external senses."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Clarke, Steve. "Hume's Definition of Miracles Revised." American Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan 1999), pp. 49-57.
  • Hume, David. Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals. Third Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.
  • Norton, David Fate and Taylor, Jacqueline, Eds. The Cambridge Companion to Hume. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Russell, Paul. The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism, and Irreligion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Sorensen, Roy A. "Hume's Scepticism concerning Reports of Miracles." Analysis. Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan 1983), p. 60.

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APA Format

David Hume and Epistemic Skepticism Concerning Religious Miracles (2013, October 17) Retrieved January 22, 2022, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/david-hume-and-epistemic-skepticism-concerning-religious-miracles-153705/

MLA Format

"David Hume and Epistemic Skepticism Concerning Religious Miracles" 17 October 2013. Web. 22 January. 2022. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/david-hume-and-epistemic-skepticism-concerning-religious-miracles-153705/>