Monday, December 8, 2014

Mind-Body Problem and Hume

I just got done with teaching Hume for a few days.  Here is one thing--the primary thing--I have learned from Hume: there is no (immaterial) mind-(material)body problem as far as causation goes.  Arguments against mind-body causal interaction are futile.

Of course, Hume doesn't say any of that, but he does demonstrate quite nicely that even our most commonsense beliefs about causation ultimately bottom out in mystery.  He shows that it's problematic to attribute causation to ordinary material objects.  But of course most people do think that causation holds between material objects.  The nature of causation is just deeply mysterious.

In fact, I suspect that any question regarding how an immaterial mind could cause bodily action is misguided: there could be no how to it.  If it happens it just happens.  If you want to see how it happens, raise your hand.


  1. If I punched David Hume in the face, would he contradict his thought by attributing his hurting face to my punch?

  2. Perhaps. What he should say is that there's no discernible necessary connection between your punching and his face hurting, nonetheless he couldn't help but expect to feel hurt when he had a sensation of your swinging.

    Of course he might instead just whack you over the head with a billiard ball.