Now for Nunc!

Well, son of Nunc, anyway.

Here’s Nunc-bïdi Hyûm, a sophotaster who resembles David Hume in his philosophical views.

Hyûm is less eggheaded than most of his intellectual peers. Unlike many of them, Hyûm bases his understanding of the world on the evidence of his senses. For Hyûm, the accumulation of sense impressions gradually coalesces into a fixed idea which we then ascribe to reality. The idea doesn’t exist for us until our perceptions have provided the data for the abstraction of some concept. Other ideas are formed by the conjunction or other relation of one idea and another, but all ideas can ultimately be resolved into the primitive subjective experiences which support them.

For instance, we have the idea that the Sun rises in the East every day. We believe this is intrinsically and invariably true. Hyûm argues that our expectation of the Sun’s rising in the East represents merely a conditioned attitude formed through an abundance of similar first-hand experiences.

In certain obnoxiously obvious ways, Hyûm is simply correct. If the Sun failed to rise, or rose in the West or South, we would have to change our idea of sunrise: the universe itself unfolds quite independent of our judgements, descriptions, and expectations.

What’s more, terrestrial sunrise is an ephemeral phenomenon, when considered within the proper time frame. According to the best scientific estimates, our Sun is middle aged, which means it has existed for less than half of the life of the universe. The sun simply hasn’t always risen in the East. Further, when the Sun explodes, it ain’t gonna rise at all, it’s going to engulf us in great gouts of nuclear flame.

The consequences of Hyûm’s views are radical. According to Hyûm, basic categories such as causality are imposed upon reality by our minds’ need to conceptualize, to idealize it. We cannot observe causation, he argues, so our claims of causal connection are empirically illicit.

I’m short, Hyûm likes to deflate the inherited, unconscious, or unwary ideas we often carry around with us. He attempts to explain our conception of the world by an appeal to empiricist epistemology. For Hyûm, ideas which deviate from our impressions or attempt to synthesize impressions into larger and more abstract categories are doomed to failure.

Good day, sir!

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