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date: 22 July 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Central aspects of Hume’s proposed “system of the sciences” as described in the Treatise are modeled on Newton’s Principia. But, as recent scholarship has suggested, Hume’s Treatise also bears a deeply subversive message with respect to Newtonian science. This chapter offers a revised overview of what Hume takes from Newton and what he rejects: The first part of the chapter argues that in the Treatise Hume adopts a version of Newton’s “analytic and synthetic method” for philosophy, thereby placing a distinctively Newtonian form of explanatory reduction at the center of his own philosophical method. The second part of the chapter, on the other hand, shows that many of the most important aspects of Hume’s argument in Book 1 of the Treatise can be understood as critical of core conceptual and ontological commitments of Newton’s mechanics as developed in the Principia.

Keywords: Newton, Hume, system of the sciences, analytic and synthetic method, explanatory reduction, absolute space, geometry, Rule 3, force

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