Hume's Fork - Essay on Philosophy

Date:  2021-06-28 10:43:53
4 pages  (890 words)
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Carnegie Mellon University
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This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Humes fork can be referred to as an explanation that was developed by philosophers regarding ideas that relate to matters of fact and issues of real existence. This book tries to explain to us the philosophy that people can only have two types of knowledge that are legitimate. According to Humes if knowledge is not in line with the forks then that knowledge is sophistry, and in turn, it should be cast to the flames (Cooper, 2007).

According to Humes the relations of ideas is usually referred to as intuitively and also demonstratively certain. It is because through a little operation by our thoughts such propositions are discovered, and it does not depend on what exists in the universe. The negation of truth or relation of ideas could be a contradiction unlike the negation of a matter of fact which is not a contradiction. For example, contradiction comes up when he says that Vixens are not foxes. It is just like saying that a female fox cannot be referred to as a fox. But in this case, the truth all depends on what our thoughts know and the concepts that we hold and not in the world. It is through an individuals experience and not by demonstration or even intuition that we can know how a fox looks like, its characteristics and also properties. Hence this can be true regarding Humes philosophy of knowledge that through our understanding of certain concepts as well as deductive inference we can gain the knowledge of relations of ideas.

In the matters of fact we get a substantive knowledge, it is regarded as the knowledge which can tell about something new that is happening in the world. It is also posterior; it is the knowledge that a person ends up gaining after having a particular experience. Through the matters of fact, we also have the synthetic knowledge. It is contrary to the relation of ideas which tends to have the attributes of analytic and prior. That is it has the truth by definition and also known before experience. According to the philosophy of Humes prior knowledge cant tell us about something new regarding the world because all that people will be doing is relating the ideas. The best example of this scenario is when we do a mathematics of 1+1=2, through this we dont learn anything new about the world since all that we do is relate the ideas of 2,1,+ and =.

Humes regards the opinions and claims of other philosophers on knowledge as false. He disagrees with rationalists such as Descartes and Plato who argue that through intuition that is rational and demonstration a great deal can be shown which includes the existence of different forms and also of God. For example, according to Descartes, it is not obvious that a person will say that God does not exist and this will be a contradiction. Humes regards such claims as false since a small operation by the thought is not bound to establish any information about what exists in the Universe (Baggini & Fosl, 2011).

The matters of fact can be related to casual inference. It is through observation, reasoning about probability and also the employment of induction that it is gained. The matters of fact that appear to be beyond that can be established through carrying out of probability arguments and not proofs that are deductive. For example in a situation where a person receives a letter from a friend, and it has a Germany postal stamp one will tend to conclude that the friend who sent the letter lives in Germany. The conclusion is based on a persons experience of that postal stamps belong to the place where a person is receiving the postal services. Hence this helps support Humes claim of that casual inference is as a result of a person's experience (Cooper, 2007).

According to Humes philosophy, people cannot deduce the effect of an action by experiencing its causes or the opposite that tell about its causes after we have suffered the consequences of a particular action. Hence the relation that exists between causes with its effect cannot be referred to as a relation of ideas. From that, we can be able to tell that we cannot conclude that the world that is outside our experience is the same or even will be the same to what we have experienced. According to Humes, our belief about the future is not based on any reason at all. In his book, he says that children are usually in a position to learn out of an experience, but we still have professional philosophers who are still struggling to come up with a reasoning that a child can easily adopt (Baggini & Fosl, 2011).

In conclusion, according to Humes the formation of judgment which is based on probability is a process of thought and as well of reasoning. He also suggests that the idea of people forming a belief concerning a particular situation to occur or not occur as a result of the repeated exposure that a person has had helps in explaining the nature of belief. We can refer to a belief as an idea which has great vivacity.


Baggini, J., & Fosl, P. S. (2011). The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods. Somerset: Wiley.

Cooper, R. L. (2007). Hume's fork: A novel. Baltimore, MD: Bancroft Press.


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