And God Says... (Simple Answers To Complex Questions Book 1)

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Sections 4b and 4c , below, discuss these phenomena.

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Shortly after writing these sections, Hume seems to have changed his view about the nature of belief. This suggests that he no longer identified belief with a higher-than-usual degree of force and vivacity. Later, in the first Enquiry , he refrained from explicitly likening beliefs to impressions, in respect of their force and vivacity E 5. How significantly did he change his views? Commentators disagree: for two different perspectives, see Owen , —4 and Wilbanks , 29— Hume claims that this basic function of the inclusive imagination explains why those who believe in external objects that cause their impressions tend to believe that these objects also resemble their impressions: they add the relation of resemblance to that of causation in order to complete the union between the external object and the impression T 1.

Similarly, this function explains why we believe that sounds, tastes, and smells have spatial locations.


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But we typically experience the taste and smell of an olive, say, at the same time as experiencing the olive itself; and we take the olive to cause its taste and smell. Because of our tendency to complete the union of related objects, we imaginatively add the relation of spatial contiguity to those of temporal contiguity and causation. Projection plays an important role in his theories of causal necessity and moral value.

Section 4d , below, discusses it. This section focuses on four important examples: abstract ideas, probable reasoning, sympathy, and projection. Hume says that every idea is individual or particular.


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  • However, we are not restricted to thinking of one particular thing at a time. We can grasp thoughts like all dogs are mammals and all triangles are shapes.

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    If an idea represents just one particular object, then how can we do this—how can we think of all the particular dogs that exist, or all the particular triangles? He explains how this happens by appealing to the association of ideas. If it occurred on its own, this idea would represent just this one particular dog. But when it occurs in partnership with a word that is also associated with many other ideas of particular dogs Spot, Rover, and so forth , the idea of Fido serves as a proxy for those other ideas T 1.

    Hence, it serves as a representation of all dogs. First, it involves contiguity. Second, it involves resemblance. Because Fido, Spot, Rover, and other dogs resemble each other in many important ways, we come to associate the same term with each of them. Also thanks to this resemblance, an idea of one of these dogs tends to be followed by one or more ideas of the other dogs.

    Hume thinks that this helps one idea to serve as a proxy for the others. He presumably thinks that his own account of abstract ideas undermines this reason: it shows that the inclusive imagination can explain our abstract ideas; so, there is no need to posit an additional faculty of pure intellect. For example, we all believe that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    So, our belief that the sun will rise tomorrow must be due to probable reasoning : we must have reasoned our way to this belief, based on other things that we have observed. Hume distinguishes two main kinds of probable reasoning, which he calls proofs and probabilities T 1. For example, we have no doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow. So, the piece of probable reasoning that leads us to this conclusion is a proof.

    For example, when I have a headache, I believe with some confidence that taking acetaminophen will cure it. But I do not believe this with complete certainty: taking acetaminophen usually cures my headaches, but not always. So, the piece of probable reasoning that leads me to conclude that taking acetaminophen will cure my current headache is a probability.

    For examples of the inclusive sense, see T 1. Hume observes that our ordinary actions and our scientific inquiries—including those that he himself conducts, as a scientist of man—depend on probable reasoning and the beliefs that it produces. Therefore, it is especially important to him to explain how our minds carry out this kind of reasoning.

    He argues that probable reasoning is a non-basic function of the inclusive imagination, built up from two basic ones: association, and the transmission of force and vivacity among associated perceptions. In order to explain this piece of reasoning, Hume breaks it down into three parts T 1. In general, Hume avoids the question of how our sensory impressions are produced, so he leaves this part of our reasoning unexplained.

    Hume famously argues that this transition is due to imaginative association. In the past, whenever we have observed billiard balls in similar situations—one ball hurtling towards another, unobstructed, ball—we have observed the balls to collide, and the second start to move. This course of past experience has established an associative relation: a perception of billiard balls in this situation now calls to our mind an idea of the balls colliding, and the second starting to move.

    It is due to this associative relation, Hume claims, that the sight of billiard balls in this situation now causes us to form such an idea T 1. This is an example of association by causation —one of the three principles of association that Hume identifies; see section 3c , above. Hume thinks that only causation can inform us about unobserved matters of fact: that is, we can only learn about an unobserved matter of fact if it is causally related to some other matter, or matters, of fact that we have observed T 1. So, he thinks that all probable reasoning involves association by causation.

    The third part of our probable reasoning is the transmission of force and liveliness to our idea, so that we believe —not just entertain the thought—that the billiard balls will collide and that the second one will start to move. Once he has established that imaginative association explains our transition from our impression of the billiard balls to this idea, this third part of our reasoning is easy for Hume to explain. Impressions have a high degree of force and liveliness, and transmitting force and liveliness among associated perceptions is a basic function of the inclusive imagination.

    As a result, our idea becomes a belief. In the Treatise , he distinguishes three kinds of probability: the probability of chances; the probability of causes; and probability arising from analogy T 1. We rely on the probability of chances and the probability of causes when we do not have a large, uniform body of past experience concerning the matters of fact about which we are reasoning. For example, when I roll a fair, six-sided die, I do not have a uniform body of past experience concerning which face will land uppermost: in my past experience, rolling the die has sometimes been followed by one face landing uppermost, sometimes by another face landing uppermost.

    But if the die has four faces marked with squares, and only two marked with circles, I come to believe with some confidence that one of the faces marked with a square will land uppermost; this belief derives from the probability of chances. Similarly, when I take acetaminophen in the hopes of curing my headache, I do not have a uniform body of past experience concerning the curing of my headache: in my past experience, taking acetaminophen has usually been followed by the curing of a headache—but not always.

    Again, I come to believe with some confidence that taking acetaminophen on this occasion will be followed by the curing of my headache; this belief derives from the probability of causes. Hume argues that, like proofs, both the probability of chances and that of causes are explained by the association of ideas and the transmission of force and vivacity between associated perceptions.

    We rely on probability arising from analogy when we observe a matter of fact that bears some resemblance, but not a perfect resemblance, to matters of fact that we have previously observed.

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    Suppose that I have a large body of past experience of Labradors in which, whenever a Labrador has approached me with its tail wagging, it has then greeted me effusively; suppose, also, that I have no past experience of German Shepherds, but that I now see one approaching me with its tail wagging.

    Because this German Shepherd does not perfectly resemble anything that I have previously experienced, I do not have a proof that it will greet me effusively. But, because it bears some resemblance to the Labradors that I have experienced, I believe with some confidence that it will greet me effusively. According to Hume, this belief is due to probability arising from analogy—in this case, the analogy between the German Shepherd that I now experience and the Labradors that I have previously experienced.

    Hume holds that this species of probability is explained by the same basic functions of the inclusive imagination as proofs, the probability of chances, and the probability of causes T 1. When we carry out simple pieces of probable reasoning, we do so reflexively. For example, when we see one billiard ball hurtling towards another, we immediately form the belief that the balls will collide, and that the second will start to move; we need not reflect on our past experiences, or construct an argument, in order to do so.

    Not all probable reasoning is like this.

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    More sophisticated pieces of probable reasoning are reflective , not reflexive : they involve reflection on past experience, and the construction of arguments. But Hume explains this reflective kind of probable reasoning in terms of the reflexive kind. And we cannot begin to establish such principles, except by means of reflexive probable reasoning. So, Hume explains sophisticated, reflective probable reasoning by showing how it is built up from unsophisticated, reflexive probable reasoning; and, as we have seen, he explains unsophisticated, reflexive probable reasoning in terms of two basic functions of the inclusive imagination: association and the transmission of force and liveliness.

    At the sight of a cheerful face, one tends to feel more cheerful oneself. In each case, a sentiment or feeling of the person observed is communicated, by sympathy, to the observer. First, he explains sympathy in terms of the same two basic imaginative functions: association and the transmission of force and vivacity among associated perceptions. Second, as with probable reasoning, Hume distinguishes reflexive and reflective forms of sympathy.

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    Consider an example of the reflexive form of sympathy: you meet a joyful person, and consequently feel the passion of joy yourself. Hume distinguishes two components within this process. But it does not yet explain why you should come to feel the passion of joy yourself. This explanation comes from the second component that Hume discerns in the process of sympathizing. He claims that you always have a very forceful and vivacious perception of yourself T 2.

    Since you are both human beings, the joyful person whom you have met resembles you closely, and—in the case we are now considering—she and the joy that she feels are contiguous to you in space and time. Thanks to these relations of resemblance and contiguity, your very forceful and lively perception of yourself is associated with your idea of this other person and the joy that she feels. When we consider somebody with a character-trait that is useful to those around her—generosity, for example—we sympathetically share the pleasurable passions of joy and gratitude that this character-trait induces in the people who benefit from it.

    Because we share these pleasurable passions, we morally approve of the character-trait that causes them. If all our sympathetic responses were reflexive, however, then our sentiments of moral approval and disapproval would fluctuate wildly.

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    As people become more distant from us in space and time, our ideas of them and their passions become less strongly associated with our forceful and vivacious perceptions of ourselves; we therefore sympathize less strongly with them. So, if all of our moral sentiments derived from reflexive sympathy, we would not approve as much of past virtues as we do of present ones, and we would not approve as much of the virtues of spatially distant people as we do of the virtues of people living close to us.

    We base our moral sentiments not on how reflexive sympathy makes us feel, but on how reflective sympathy tells us that we would feel, if we were to encounter the person whose character we are evaluating, and the people whom she directly affects. Hume holds that the reflective kind of sympathy from which our moral sentiments derive is a corrected form of reflexive sympathy; and, as we have seen, he explains reflexive sympathy in terms of two basic functions of the inclusive imagination—association and the transmission of force and liveliness.

    In his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals hereafter, second Enquiry , Hume does not discuss sympathy as extensively, or in as much detail, as he does in the earlier Treatise. This leads some commentators to think that he changed his views about the origins of our moral sentiments, in between writing these works.

    Abramson argues convincingly that this is not the case, and that the imaginative mechanism of reflective sympathy plays much the same role in the second Enquiry as it does in the Treatise. Given that the cause happens, we take it that the effect must follow. For example, given that a speeding billiard ball collides with an unobstructed, stationary ball, the latter must start moving; or, given that a burning match is applied to dry kindling in an oxygen-rich environment, the kindling must start burning.

    Hume investigates at length how we acquire the idea of this necessary connection between cause and effect, and what this idea really represents. He argues that this idea does not represent anything that belongs to, or exists between, the cause and effect themselves. By calling this transition an impression, Hume suggests that it has a distinctive feeling—when we see one billiard ball strike another, we feel ourselves determined to believe that the second ball will start moving.

    Hence, some scholars say that Hume holds a projectivist view of causal necessity for example, see Beebee Hume indicates that two basic functions of the inclusive imagination explain why we project our impression, or determination, onto the causally related events themselves. The first is association. Because of this contiguity and this causal relation, the causally related events come to be associated with our impression or determination.

    In other words, we complete the union between the causally related objects, on the one hand, and our internal impression or determination, on the other, by imagining that the internal impression occurs outside our mind, in the very place where the causally related events are located. That is to say, we project that internal impression onto those events. Hume makes similar-sounding appeals to projection elsewhere in his philosophical works. Hume does not explain how these aesthetic and moral kinds of projection occur.

    But, as he aims to explain human mental phenomena systematically, by appeal to a small number of basic principles, he is likely to explain them by means of the basic imaginative functions that he uses to explain why we project our internal impression of causal necessity. Even among those scholars who agree that Hume gives projectivist theories of causation, morality, and aesthetics, there are disagreements about exactly what he understands projection to be, and what his projectivism implies. For example, some scholars think that projection is a kind of error that we make, while others think that projection need not involve any kind of error.

    The main texts that have inspired projectivist interpretations of Hume are Treatise Book 1, Part 3, Section 14, especially paragraphs 20—29; and Appendix 1 of the second Enquiry. Often, Hume concludes that these beliefs and ways of thinking are not products of demonstrative or probable reasoning but, instead, are fictions produced by the exclusive imagination. Hume thinks that, in the course of philosophical reflection, we tend to form further fictions. As well as calling these beliefs fictions , Hume calls the distinctive imaginative process or operation that produces them fiction for example, see T 1.

    Evidently, Hume thinks that many of our beliefs are fictions of the imagination. But it is not clear what this means: in what sense do fictions involve an improper and inexact use of our ideas? Different commentators answer this question in different ways. According to some, Hume sees all fictions as falsehoods. According to others, he allows that some fictions may be true, but thinks that we lack evidence or justification for believing them. Of course, it is possible to combine these interpretations by distinguishing different kinds of fictions: for example, we may interpret Hume as thinking that some fictions are falsehoods, while others are unintelligible.

    The rest of this section briefly examines three of the most important fictions that Hume discusses. It aims to exhibit the features of his discussions that motivate each type of interpretation that we have just surveyed. But ordinarily, he thinks, we do not realize this. Instead, we take certain of our sense-impressions to be bodies—that is, we ordinarily believe, of certain sense-impressions, that they continue to exist at times when they are not present to our minds T 1. Suppose that I shut my eyes for a moment and that, upon re-opening them, I receive sense-impressions of the furniture in the room that closely resemble those that I received before shutting my eyes.

    Thanks to a complicated imaginative mechanism, which Hume describes over several pages, this association of ideas leads me to imaginatively fill the gap in the sequence of sense-impressions that I received: I imaginatively construct ideas of furniture existing during the time when my eyes were shut, connecting up my memories of the last furniture-impression that I received before shutting my eyes and the first one that I received after re-opening them T 1.

    Because these imaginatively constructed ideas are associated with memories, a high degree of force and vivacity is transmitted to them T 1. Thanks to this mechanism, which involves both the association of ideas and the transmission of force and vivacity among related perceptions, I ordinarily come to believe, of my furniture-impressions, that they continued to exist while my eyes were shut.

    However, Hume argues that none of our sense-impressions continue to exist at times when they are not present to our minds T 1. Freud argued that civilization could only arise when enough humans learned to repress these deeper and baser urges, to push them into the unconscious where according to his model they would fester and ultimately generate all sorts of neuroses. Freud basically came to the conclusion that as humans, we had one of two shitty options in life: 1 repress all of our basic instincts to maintain some semblance of a safe and cooperative civilization, thus making ourselves miserable and neurotic or 2 to let them all out and let shit hit the fan.

    And as an Austrian Jew, he ran for the hills.


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      And the book reads like it was written by a middle-aged engineer who took too much acid and now desperately needs to speak with a therapist. I poke fun at Ray, but the technological possibilities presented in this book are truly mind-boggling. And we will undoubtedly see a significant percentage of them in our lifetime. Medical nanobots that live in the bloodstream that we wireless upload vaccines to. Genetic programming for newborns so parents can choose not only the physical characteristics of their children but their talents as well. The whole immortality, one-computerized-world-consciousness thing?

      For unenhanced humans, clearly so. But what would 1, scientists, each 1, times more intelligent than human scientists today, and each operating 1, times faster than contemporary humans because the information processing in their primarily non-biological brains is faster accomplish? One chronological year would be like a millennium for them. What would they come up with? Bonus Points For: Delusional optimism to the point where you kind of feel bad for the guy and how scared he is of dying.

      Read This Book If… …you are a geek, plain and simple. Because man is the only animal capable of conceptualizing his own existence — thinking about his life, questioning it , imagining future possibilities — man is therefore also the only animal capable of conceptualizing his own non-existence, i. In other words, humans were given the gift of being able to imagine the future and who we want to be, but the price we pay for this gift is the realization that we will one day die.

      Neither does a fish. Or a roach. But we do. Although we are justified by faith in Christ alone and not by works, extensive New Testament teachings about living the Christian life show that our day-by-day obedience as justified Christians is an important part of the Christian life. Understanding obedience correctly requires that we avoid the opposite errors of legalism and antinomianism.

      God intended that obedience to him would not be burdensome 1 John but would bring us great joy. It is not too popular to talk about sin today, but it is a huge topic in the Bible. This means that the topic of sin is mentioned in one way or another, on average, nearly two times per page through the entire New Testament. We would neglect such an important topic at our peril. The New Testament mentions several harmful consequences that come from willful sin in the life of a Christian.

      Christians should pray daily for forgiveness of sins Matthew ; 1 John , not to gain justification again and again, but to restore our personal fellowship with God that has been hindered by sin. Christian ethics is not concerned only with our right and wrong actions. We are complex people, and life itself is complex. But at other times, we are able to ponder a decision at some length. When we have more time to ponder a decision, we can consider as many as nine possible sources of information and guidance: 1 the Bible, 2 knowledge of the facts of the situation, 3 knowledge of ourselves, 4 advice from others, 5 changed circumstances, 6 our consciences, 7 our hearts, 8 our human spirits, and 9 guidance from the Holy Spirit.

      We need wisdom from God in order to evaluate these factors rightly in making a decision.