Notes on Hume’s Pyrrhonism

Pyrrhonism = rejection of all belief and reasoning. Look upon no opinion as even more probable or likely than another. Morality is more properly felt than judged.

Hume thinks it is what philosophy leads to – it is true, but is a belief that is incompatible with supporting human life (nature is stronger than pyrrhonism.)

It cannot be refuted, but is impossible to actually believe. It overrides our commonsense .. we are required to hold some opinions regardless of evidence. This is an argument against ‘free will’ (an illusio). A river cannot choose to change its course as much as a person cannot choose to stop thinking while awake. The more time I devote to thinking about it the more I feel like a river. I cannot avoid lingering, bored and stagnant in a pool, while at other times I cannot help but fall fast, cutting away the rock (friends) that have faithfully carried me. V strong case against free will.

Reason is a slave of the passions. An unanswerable question does not stop people believing they know the answer. (and all questions are unanswerable). We cannot help but believe there is an external world, it is beyond our capacity to believe otherwise in daily life. We walk around acting as if there is.

Why do we ascribe an identity to a series of successive perceptions? – its natural and irrational

Our distinct perceptions are distinct existences, the mind never perceives any real connection between the existences.

A problem - isn’t Pyrrhonism self refuting? By its own definition it cannot be more certain than me thinking that the universe is an apple.

For pyrrhonism: We do not look for all the possibilities, we only look for those that serve our pre-decided purpose. We form a belief, then look for reasons to suppose it, not undermine it. We may look for enough opinions on both sides to make us feel like we have given the belief a fair test, but we have not really. This argument itself is an example of this. I am gathering relevant ideas to support the original ‘belief’ (or in this case, short-term thought).

Hume argues that there could be true proofs, but there is no rational reason for someone to know that it is true. We have to judge our judgements, then judge our judgments of our judgements ad infinitum resulting in the probability of knowledge being 0 You can never know you are reasoning logically.

If a coin were flipped every minute for all of time there would be sections where the outcome was ‘heads’ for e.g. 1000 flips in a row. How do we know science isn’t measuring a section like this in its repeat experiements for everything?…


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