Last Updated 15 Apr 2020

David Hume and Naturalism

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David Hume is a naturalist, which means he believes our thoughts are not based on reason at all, but are based in nature. Hume suggests that nature is all we need to justify our beliefs. This means that we make conclusions about things around us based on habits and patterns. Hume suggests that experiences explain justifications and notions far greater than any rationalization. A part of Hume’s theory lies in the sentiment of feeling. “It must be excited by nature… [and] whenever any object is presented to the memory or senses, it immediately, by the force of custom, carries the imagination to conceive that object…” (Hume p. 1). This means that a feeling occurs when the senses bring an object to the imagination.

Nature creates being according to Hume’s naturalist ideas. According to Hume’s naturalism philosophy, humans and other animals experience nature and create feelings in very similar manners, and from similar causes. Hume emphasizes that both humans and other animals make predictions and explanations about the world, and all of this is because of experiencing nature. Discipline and education are the core of learning for animals. Animals, therefore, are not guided in these inferences by reasoning: Neither are children: Neither are the generality of mankind, in their ordinary actions and conclusions: Neither are philosophers themselves, who, in all the active parts of life, are, in the main, the same with the vulgar, and are governed by the same maxims” (Hume p. 70). Hume suggests that when animals or humans are experiencing a new situation it is actually a combination of past events they are already familiar with. Hume suggests that reasoning and argumentation cannot be trusted (Hume p. 71).

Therefore, it is the senses of all beings observing nature that create emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It is also expressed in Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding that animals have knowledge not only from observation, but also a lot from “the original hand of nature” (Hume p. 72). This could mean that animals have certain instincts given by nature that can not be controlled. Hume was in all senses a naturalist. Nature holds all answers according to Hume, and neither humans nor other animals hold the ability to create arguments and ideas without nature.

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David Hume and Naturalism. (2017, Apr 07). Retrieved from

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