By Christopher J. Berry
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31). ” There are three crucial aspects of this science. First, it is observational—carefully and exactly attending to experience. 8). Third, Hume, in recognition that moral subjects are less amenable to experiment than natural ones, acknowledges that the cautious observations of human life need to be “judiciously collected and compar’d” but if that is done then certitude in its conclusions can be achieved and, with that, the science can be the most useful. 10). The Treatise is divided into three books—Of the Understanding, Of the Passions (published together Hume’s Thought 27 in 1739) and Of Morals (published in 1740).
A The Science of Man We can start at the beginning. 4, 6). ” The linchpin of this new system is the “science of man” and to a large extent this chapter is an elaboration of, and commentary upon, that key notion. There remains more initial instruction to be gained from the Introduction. The novel foundation, as identified in the subtitle to the Treatise, and repeated in the Introduction, is the experimental method. ” Though no names are given, Newton is undeniably the inspiration. The likely explanation for this absence of an explicit reference is Hume’s concern to distance himself from the directly Providentialist use made of Newton by many of his contemporaries, as, for example, by George Turnbull in his exactly contemporaneous Principles of Moral Philosophy.
What this means for Hume is that we attribute causal relations because we habitually associate phenomena. 30 David Hume We are “determined by custom” (TA 15) to expect or believe that the second ball’s movement was caused by the impact upon it of the first ball. 14). In virtue of this constancy we can predict that the second static ball will move when hit by the first ball in motion. 10). If we know/can predict that a set of effects will follow from a certain set of causes then we can act accordingly—I want hot water therefore I have to heat it.
David Hume by Christopher J. Berry