Semester of Graduation

Spring 2021

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

The skeptical challenge of David Hume in the 18th Century presented a shock to existing dogmatic thinking in philosophy. In challenging long-held and fundamental beliefs about the nature of causation and the external world, Hume would be categorized as a radical skeptic and anti-realist by his contemporaries and Immanuel Kant later on. However, renewed debate over these historical interpretations of Hume has emerged, and those under the New Hume banner argue that Hume held a realist position. However, all of these interpretations are not without their issues. In this thesis, I show that the historical readings of Hume misjudge the level of skepticism at work in his philosophy. Further, I exhibit that the New Hume interpretations are not without issues. I argue that the No-Single Hume position ends in contradiction, while the Skeptical Realist, although strong, falls into the very same epistemological debates it wishes to free itself from. Even more problematic, the Skeptical Realist is open to a paradox on the basis of the strike to the senses that takes place in the formation of impressions. To remedy this, I claim that the strike is specifically an interaction of two external limits. From this reading, I propose a possible ontological reading of Hume by utilizing the concepts of atomism and associationism deployed in Gilles Deleuze’s work Empiricism and Subjectivity. This reading serves a double function as it lends an ontological rendering of Hume to the Skeptical Realists while endorsing realist readings of Deleuze.

Committee Chair

John Protevi

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