Department: Department Of Philosophy
Hume’s phenomenalistic epistemology poses some fundamental problems such as the philosophical examinations of the rational justification of human knowledge and human beliefs. For instance, how justifiable or rational are human beliefs from the standpoint of sense perception? Epistemology, basically, as one of the chief branches of philosophy concentrates on the critical examination of the validity of human knowledge. Nevertheless, it seeks to elucidate what it means to say that knowledge is rational and the general conditions that must be satisfied for any genuine claim to knowledge. A fundamental problem that is inherent in epistemology in spite of the problem of skepticism is the process of knowledge acquisition. This however led to the emergence of two opposing schools of thought, the ‘Rationalism’ and ‘Empiricism’. Hume’s skepticism is informed by the determination to bring empiricism to its logical conclusion. Indeed, his philosophy shows clearly that the logical conclusion of empiricism is radical skepticism. We shall use the method of phenomenalysis which is a combination of two philosophical methods-phenomenology and analysis in this dissertation. However, the methods reveals that Humes empiricism reveals that his empiricism basically entails a phenomenalistic epistemology which has the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves but, only as perceptual phenomena of sensory stimuli (e.g, redness, hardness, softness and sweetness) situated in time and space. Hume’s epistemology boils down to the fact that we can only know impressions of things and ideas we make out of impressions; in this way, he denied the existence of physical objects and even the external world. Essentially, David Hume is among the British empiricists supposedly, the most important due to the level of the consistency and coherence of his epistemological thought. However, he developed to its logical conclusion the epistemological philosophy of the empiricists. Indeed, by his self consistence, he made it incredible, such that his ideas became a dead-end to empiricist thought or ideas. With the method of phenomenalysis, the research examines or takes a holistic approach into the understanding of Hume’s epistemology. Consequently, the study reveals that as fantastic and sophisticated, Hume’s epistemological thought seems to be, it has some traces of philosophical inconsistencies which are said to be fundamental, also, the denial of metaphysics remains the major defect. Hence, his philosophy is limited, by implication; he failed to recognize reality as a whole. Secondly, Hume made morality to be a by-product of sentimentalism, therefore, underrating the role of reason and made it a slave to passion. Nevertheless, we therefore advocate that in any adventure regarding the understanding of human knowledge, metaphysics should be considered as a vital factor in the corpus of human knowledge. Again, in a certain sense, to be is to know and to know implies both experience and reason, rationality makes man, and man by every standard is a moral agent by the nature of his intelligence, self awareness and consciousness and as such, reason can never be a slave to passion; rather, it places man as a higher being. Hume’s empiricist philosophy has janus face because it is characterized by both the old Hume and new Hume. Nevetheless, Hume’s philosophy leads us to radical skepticism and scienticism.