Hume's Changing Views on the 'Durability' of Scepticism
Journal of Scottish Philosophy, Vol. 7, pp. 215-236, 2009
22 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 9, 2012
While Hume is famous for his development and defence of various arguments for radical scepticism, Hume was bothered by the tension between his ‘abstruse’ philosophical reflections and ordinary life: If he often felt intensely sceptical in his study, he nonetheless felt genuinely unable to take these sceptical views seriously when he returned to the concerns and activities of everyday life. Hume's published work shows a deep and ongoing preoccupation with this tension, and I believe it also shows that Hume's view about the ‘durability’ of scepticism (that is, the extent to which sceptical insights can have an abiding impact on our cognitive lives) underwent an evolutionary development throughout the course of his publishing career. In this paper I propose to trace these textual developments in detail. In particular, I will argue that Hume's concern for intellectual stability is what drives the evolution, as he struggled to understand the ‘durable value’ in scepticism.
Keywords: David Hume, skepticism, modesty
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