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Hume's idea of necessary connection


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SAINSBURY, Mark. Hume’s idea of necessary connection. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 30, n. 2, p. 341–355, 2007. Disponível em: Acesso em: 21 jun. 2024.


Hume seems to tell us that our ideas are copies of our corresponding impressions, that we have an idea of necessary connection, but that we have no corresponding impression, since nothing can be known to be really necessarily connected. The paper considers two ways of reinterpreting the doctrine of the origins of ideas so as to avoid the apparent inconsistency. If we see the doctrine as concerned primarily with establishing conditions under which we possess na idea, there is no need for an idea’s “corresponding” impression to be one of  which the idea is true. It would be enough that the impression be in some way appropriate for making is master of the idea. Alternatively, if we see the doctrine as concerned primarily with fixing the content of ideas, we might see it operating in the case of causation  rather as it must in the case of secondary qualities, conceived in a certain distinctive way. Even if there is “really” no  red in the objects (but only in the mind), we way regard the idea of red  as properly ascribed to any object apt to cause typical sensations in us (though this corresponds to no property “ really” in the object). Likewise, we way regard the idea of necessary connection as properly ascribed to any pair of objects apt to cause typical habits in us (though this corresponds to no property “really” in the pair). This view may do justice to Hume’s wish to affirm both that there is such a thing as necessity, residente in the mind, and that there are no knowable necessary connections.



Originally published in Manuscrito, v.20, n.2, p.213-230, 1997.

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