Another note on Hume, Chesterton and Causality

Hume’s denial of causal connections being a kind of objective feature of the world was made on the basis of his radical empiricism – we can’t experience causality in a sensuous way. But why agree with his empiricism? Empiricism has been all but abandoned, and in its more extreme form, logical positivism, actively rejected. Why assume that Hume’s empiricism is true? Sure, we can’t have knowledge of causal relations via empirical datum, but so what? While empirical sense data is essential for a lot of knowledge, it’s certainly not necessary for all knowledge – empiricism itself cannot be verified empirically. So Hume’s critique, while in my opinion correct, ends up losing some of its force once one no longer believes the myth of empiricism.

2 thoughts on “Another note on Hume, Chesterton and Causality

  1. guymax October 31, 2013 / 9:32 am

    I always feel that empiricism should mean not only direct sense-data but also ‘non-intuitive direct knowledge’ or ‘knowledge by identity’. In which case we should be fighting for empiricism rather than against it. Maybe my definition is idiosyncratic, but because of it I find that when a religious person argues against empiricism it always feels to me like they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Not disagreeing with the post but this does seem to be a complication.


    • whitefrozen October 31, 2013 / 3:06 pm

      I agree that there different kinds of empiricism – I’m specifically speaking here about the kind that was exemplified by, say, the Vienna Circle. Reductionistic empiricism, I guess is what I’m trying to say.


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