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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Like Descartes, Locke, and Berkeley before him, Hume propounds a theory of the external world or of what, in his case, is better called belief in the existence of body. The success or failure of his discussion rests not on any conclusion reached about the status of this belief—its reasonableness or unreasonableness, its truth or falsity--but only on whether, in accordance with his purpose of providing a “science of MAN,” his explanation of why we have the belief is convincing. Furthermore, Hume identifies two versions of the belief: an ordinary or “vulgar” version that we all hold until we confront the arguments that demonstrate its falsity and a “philosophical” version that we are driven to by those arguments but that has no rational foundation. This chapter analyzes Hume’s treatment of both versions and offers an internal criticism as well as some criticism from the standpoint of contemporary analytic philosophy.

Keywords: constancy, coherence, intermittent existence, philosophical system, unowned perceptions, vulgar system

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