Studies in the Eighteenth Century Background of Hume’s Empiricism

Studies in the Eighteenth Century Background of Hume’s Empiricism

MARY SHAW KUYPERS
Copyright Date: 1930
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 152
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttst70
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  • Book Info
    Studies in the Eighteenth Century Background of Hume’s Empiricism
    Book Description:

    Studies in the Eighteenth Century Background of Hume’s Empiricism was first published in 1930. A scholarly review of the influence of contemporary science and thought on the various phases of Hume’s philosophy. The chapter headings are as follows: I. Introduction. II. Interpretations of Newtonian Science in the Eighteenth Century. III. Reverberations of the New Science in Philosophy. IV. Hume’s Empiricism in Relation to Contemporary Science and Philosophy. V. Empiricism in Morals. VI. Empiricism in Politics. VII. Hume’s Historical Writing. Bibliography.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3727-4
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. PART I
    • CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 3-13)

      When Hume left the University of Edinburgh to devote himself, as he said, to the study of “philosophy and the polite authors,” the reigning conceptions of the universe were those which had been drawn from the “new philosophy” of Newton. ThePrincipiahad been published more than forty years before, and in the intervening period its main ideas had entered into the popular imagination much as evolution was to do in the nineteenth century. The specific principle of gravitation, it is true, did not lend itself to such a variety of uses as does evolution. Yet, although it could not...

    • CHAPTER II INTERPRETATIONS OF NEWTONIAN SCIENCE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
      (pp. 14-44)

      In 1720 and 1721 there was published at the Hague a textbook in physics by William ’s Gravesande.¹ The author was of the school of Leibniz and consequently opposed to many of Newton’s principles, yet, surprisingly, he called his bookAn Introduction to the Philosophy of Newton. In a preface he gave the reason for the unexpected title.² He had used it, not because his book contained the Newtonian system (for it did not), but because it exemplified the Newtonian experimental method. In this tribute ’s Gravesande was in agreement with Newton’s followers in England.

      The experimental method seemed to...

    • CHAPTER III REVERBERATIONS OF THE NEW SCIENCE IN PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 45-63)

      When we examine the development of English philosophy in the light of what was taking place in the scientific world, it becomes very clear that most of the philosophical problems, at least in the particular form which they took, were suggested by science and its methods. A new history of modern philosophy might very well be written with this orientation.

      We are interested here in tracing a small part of the relation between scientific concepts and philosophical problems. The question of the nature of causal explanation, which scientific discussions had aroused, was crucial also for philosophy, and we may discover...

  4. PART II
    • CHAPTER IV HUME’S EMPIRICISM IN RELATION TO CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY
      (pp. 64-87)

      Both Locke and Berkeley had made it clear that their discussions were directly influenced by developments in science and theology. Both were, at times, openly polemical; Locke’s attack on innate ideas was directed against the Cartesians, and Berkeley’s arguments concerning the existence of matter and its infinite divisibility were meant to refute the mathematicians and “hypothetical gentlemen” of science.

      Hume, however, gives us less help of this kind when we attempt to distinguish the immediate bearing of his arguments. He is distinctly the man of letters, concerned with all topics of current interest from that point of view, but anxious...

    • CHAPTER V EMPIRICISM IN MORALS
      (pp. 88-105)

      In the eighteenth century, as at other times, empirical method made its way more slowly in social than in physical sciences. In the field of morals the a priori method yielded reluctantly to an experimental one. In many respects, however, the situation in the social sciences parelleled the development in natural philosophy. There were the same confusions as to method in both. Each had its own mythology; superempiricism in the interpretation of science was balanced by metaphysical theories of the state in politics, and of obligation in ethics.

      A naturalistic and humane ethics was slowly freeing itself from theological assumptions...

    • CHAPTER VI EMPIRICISM IN POLITICS
      (pp. 106-119)

      Politics in the eighteenth century had not emerged as a separate discipline but was treated as one phase of general ethics. Consequently, Hume’s treatises on morals contain a positive treatment of social phenomena which the specifically political essays merely apply and reinforce.

      The eighteenth century, on the whole, was not a period of active theorizing on society and government, but rather one in which accepted theories were applied to the rather petty problems of contemporary politics. In practical politics the earlier part of the eighteenth century was devoted to working out the principles established by the Revolution of 1688. After...

    • CHAPTER VII HUME’S HISTORICAL WRITING
      (pp. 120-134)

      In the catalogue of the British Museum Hume is classified as an historian, a designation which perhaps seemed more accurate to his contemporaries than to us. Hume’sHistory of Englandwas his most popular work and was used as a college text until late in the nineteenth century. It has the merits of interest and an easy literary style, and its popularity was partly due to these. It occupied an outstanding position because it was virtually the only history which was not written to justify one of the controlling political parties. That is not to say that it had no...

  5. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 135-140)