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Hume on Memory and Causation

Hume on Memory and Causation In the first part of this paper I shall argue that an examination of Hume's second criterion for distinguishing between ideas of the memory and ideas of the imagination shows that Hume's ideas of the memory are relative ideas corresponding to definite descriptions of the general form, "the complex impression that is the (original) cause of a particular positive idea m and which exactly (or closely) resembles m," where 'm' is a variable ranging over positive ideas (mental images). I shall show that if this is correct, there is a clear basis for distinguishing ideas of the memory both from ideas of the imagination and from beliefs regarding spatially and temporally located objects that are not based upon the memory. But since there is often a significant temporal distance between the impression remembered and the positive component of one's relative idea of the memory, it is incumbent upon me to explain how the remembered impression and the positive idea can be causally related even though they are not temporally contiguous. In the second part of the paper I shall argue that, contrary to his "definitions" of causation in the Treatise,2 Hume took neither spatial nor temporal contiguity to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hume Studies Hume Society

Hume on Memory and Causation

Hume Studies , Volume 1985 (1) – Jan 26, 1985

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Publisher
Hume Society
Copyright
Copyright © Hume Society
ISSN
1947-9921
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Abstract

In the first part of this paper I shall argue that an examination of Hume's second criterion for distinguishing between ideas of the memory and ideas of the imagination shows that Hume's ideas of the memory are relative ideas corresponding to definite descriptions of the general form, "the complex impression that is the (original) cause of a particular positive idea m and which exactly (or closely) resembles m," where 'm' is a variable ranging over positive ideas (mental images). I shall show that if this is correct, there is a clear basis for distinguishing ideas of the memory both from ideas of the imagination and from beliefs regarding spatially and temporally located objects that are not based upon the memory. But since there is often a significant temporal distance between the impression remembered and the positive component of one's relative idea of the memory, it is incumbent upon me to explain how the remembered impression and the positive idea can be causally related even though they are not temporally contiguous. In the second part of the paper I shall argue that, contrary to his "definitions" of causation in the Treatise,2 Hume took neither spatial nor temporal contiguity to

Journal

Hume StudiesHume Society

Published: Jan 26, 1985

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