Friday, November 11, 2011

David Hume (1711-1776):  The consequences of the doctrine that "All Opinions Are False".

"Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm, which beats upon me from every side. I have exposed myself to the enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer?" - Book I, Part III, Section VII (Conclusion of this book)

My advice to Hume is to stick to your principles.  How do we know that all those metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians and theologians even exist?  Is this view of existence of intellectuals not merely a product of custom?  And how can we discern an insult from a complement?  If such entities as logicians exist and are always wrong, would they not be offended at a true conclusion so that an insult was merely conclusive proof of the truth of Hume's system?

There is only one puzzle for me to sort out, which is why Hume - who rejected the truth of all opinions - should have wanted so badly to make a career out of publishing and teaching opinions.  Reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (1911) article on Hume, it appears that Hume escaped much criticism for the simple reason that few bought this massive book and even fewer cared to read it.

7 comments:

Delirious said...

If you don't mind me hi-jacking this post for a moment, I have a question for Mrs. Looney. :) I thought that the word "yao" had a connotation of death to it. If that is true, then today's date would be unlucky. My husband disagrees with me, and says there is no such meaning to yao. What do you say?

Looney said...

I will forward this question to my wife!

Rummuser said...

Like all greatness, Hume too got his greatness posthumously! Look at Looney buying his book now!

Looney said...

This monstrously large work I did not buy. I downloaded an audio version for free from Librivox! Thus, I make mental notes of interesting passages and then go back to Project Gutenberg to find the exact passage online to quote.

I did buy one smaller work of Hume's, but this was done at a used bookstore for a very low price.

Looney said...

Delirious, we are puzzled as to the question. Is there any more context to it?

Delirious said...

I thought that the sound "yao" was a sound that was the same sound as one that was a word that meant death. My husband disagreed. Since your wife is puzzled by my question, I suppose my husband is right. :)

Anonymous said...

I think that you are thinking of the word "夭“ with the counting pronunciation of "一“。
Yes, this 夭 "yao" does mean death. However, being brought up from Taiwan, I read 11/11/11 with "yi" not "yao". Even for mainland Chinese, I would not think they consider the day is an unlucky day.
Have a good day after having such a deep thought....
-Mrs. Looney