The seminar will be devoted to a forced march through Hume's epistemology and metaphysics as developed in A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Parts i, iii, and iv. (Part ii of Book I deals with space and time; Books II and III deal with the passions, and with moral and political philosophy, respectively.) Topics to be covered include the Lockian framework; causal inference, custom, and probability; causation and necessary connection; the belief in body; trivial imaginative propensities (vs. the understanding); the mind and personal identity; and I.iv.7, the “Conclusion,” where book I seems to unravel.
In addition to treating particular topics, a major focus will be on the interrelations among various strands in Hume's thought, e.g., his skepticism, his naturalism, his realism, his empiricism about meaning, his commitment to "the way of ideas," and his associationism. How do these strands fit together, or do they? Addressing these questions will involve an especially detailed look at Hume's views on causal or inductive inference and the belief in body, in order to consider their bearing on competing large-scale interpretations in the secondary literature (e.g., Kemp Smith and Stroud, Baier and Korsgaard, Schmitt, Garrett, and Loeb).
A small number of undergraduates may be permitted to enroll, with the permission of the instructor. Undergraduates should not seek to enroll unless they have taken either PHIL 389 or PHIL 462, or the equivalent. There is no prerequisite for Philosophy graduate students. Graduate students in other disciplines are encouraged to consult with the instructor before registering for the seminar.
Information about books for the course will be posted on Ctools by late August.