Kant & Hume, Comparative Study

Topics: Metaphysics, God, Philosophy Pages: 5 (2034 words) Published: March 18, 2013
Immanuel Kant and David Hume—
Two of the modern world’s most followed and known, yet opposing philosophers. Immanuel Kant and David Hume both assert that all knowledge comes from experience, yet disagree on whether or not experience determines all knowledge, disagree on the causality of the universe as organized or unorganized, and disagree on God’s existence (or non-existence) within the world. Despite these vast differences, however, both philosophies have managed to co-exist in the modern world. Kant proclaims that all knowledge comes from experience, and that people are intelligent and rational enough to synthesize previous experiences into predictions (or fore-knowledge) of the future. On the other hand, Hume proclaims that all knowledge comes from experience and that just because something has occurred in the past does not mean that it will occur in the future. In regard to causality of the universe, Kant puts forth the notion that the universe was created in a way so that the nature of all things lays uniform and perfect despite the passing of time. Hume, however, puts forth the notion that the universe was created in a way so that all things change over time. In Kant’s eyes God’s existence or non-existence could never be proven or disproven, and because of this doubt God therefore exists. For Hume, the idea of God can exist, but the being most know as God cannot because the idea of god is specific and unique to every individual and therefore there cannot be one God for all—rather everyone has a unique and personal God. Kant and Hume pit each other down in philosophical battle after philosophical only to realize that they never agree on compromises to their ideas, and stay forever at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Kant and Hume both asserted that all knowledge comes from experience. Kant states that there “can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience” (Pure). By this Kant asserts that all knowledge initiates from experience. However, Kant goes further by also stating that “we have no knowledge antecedent to experience” (Pure), which means that in order to understand something, one has to have experienced the happening/ occurrence at one point in time. Hume states that “causes and effects are discoverable, not by reason but by experience” (Enquiry). By this Hume asserts that all knowledge and any knowledge must come from experience and nothing else. Hume also states that real existence can come only from “either from the causes which produced it, or the effects which will arise from it” (Enquiry), which means that experience provides not only knowledge but the justification for existence that experiences define the essence/ being of an individual. Kant and Hume agree that all knowledge stems from experiences attained in the material world. By asserting that to have knowledge of something one has to experience that thing only once Kant sparks the disagreement between himself and Hume on whether or not the future can be known based on past experiences. Kant theorizes that although “knowledge begins with experience” it does not mean that all which follows “arises out of experience” (Pure). By this Kant states that experiences are building blocks the house of knowledge but not the house itself. Kant claims that people can know what happens in the future because reason allows for them to extend their experiences beyond what has happened to events that have not occurred yet. Kant justifies this by saying that people’s “conclusions from experience” stand enough to justify that the future will resemble the past (Pure). Hume theorizes that past experience “can be allowed to give direct and certain information” but only in relation to the “precise objects ” to which past experience refers, and that “precise period of time, which fell under its cognizance” (Enquiry). Hume clearly states that the only pure knowledge people can have is knowledge of the past, which means that there can be no real...

Cited: Hume, David. An enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Chapter on Cause and Effect.
- - -. A Treatise of Human Nature. Source found @ http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4705/4705-h/4705-h.htm#2H_4_0027
Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgment, Source material found @ http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/kant/judgment/teleology.htm
- - -. Critique of Pure Reason.
- - -. Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. Book provided by http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/5682/pg5682.html
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