Introduction to PhilosophyNotesThis is not a substitute for coming to class Richard Lee
Philosophy 2003 C 001Copyright © 1999, Richard Lee Spring 1999

Hume's Thesis

All our ideas are derived from impressions.

(Cf. Locke on "tabula rasa.")

Arguments for the thesis:

1. Analysis:
"[W]hen we analyze our . . . ideas . . . we always find that they resolve themselves into such simple ideas as were copied from a precedent feeling or sentiment [i.e. an impression]." (P 158b)
Example: our idea of God
2. Defect of Organ:
"If it happen, from a defect of the organ, that a man is not suscepible of any species of sensation, we always find that he is as little susceptible of the correspondent ideas." (P 159a)
Example: man born blind

Notice that argument (1) applies to complex ideas and argument (2) to simple ideas.

Richard Lee,, last modified: 29 March 1999