OUR judgments about cause and effect, according to David Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, are nothing more than projections of our sense impressions, prompted by the "force and liveliness" of those impressions.
But where do the debutantes of forceful and lively impressions go after their first presentation to the monarch of our mind? They subside on the couches of the Memory and the Imagination, says Hume, and memory is "much more lively and strong than those of the imagination." A "perfect idea" is an impression that has entirely lost its vivacity. Thus banished to a nether world without the strong light of vivacity, our perfect ideas in the imagination are subject to the fancy and may stray to thoughts of "winged horses, fiery dragons, and monstrous giants." The natural thing is for ideas of the memory to fade away and become mere imagination. But sometimes ideas of the imagination can reacquire force and vivacity and counterfeit as memory. It is the practice of "liars", says Hume, by frequent repetition of their imaginary ideas, to end up believing them as reality.
Obviously, we cannot use the perfect idea of the imagination in any process of inferring from the observed to the unobserved.
But Hume famously goes further than this. He argues that there is no basis in reason to infer the unobserved from the observed at all. All we can argue is "constant conjunction." When we experience impressions in constant conjunction we come to believe they are related, from the force and vivacity of the impressions and their constant conjunction.
But notice that Hume does have a theory of cause and effect. He assumes that when people see a constant conjunction their minds are driven to assume that if one event occurs the other must necessarily follow. So he does believe in reason. The other approach is to assume that everything is contingent, that mental conjunctions are just as unprovable as conjunctions between forceful and vivacious impressions, that everything is merely a tissue of unprovable assertions and predictions.
The modern approach is the way of settled science. The more that theory about separate impressions gets confirmed and the more that predictions about cause and effect are successful, the more we are justified in putting our faith in their causal connection. But you never know. The practical thing to do is assume that everything works as advertised. Until it doesn't.
EVERYBODY sneers at magic these days. Because we are all scientists now. So Richard Fernandez chuckles as he takes a look at the widespread resort to magical thinking abroad in the world today. In Venezuela the government is out of money, but its leader President Nicolas Maduro is promising more free stuff. Free school stipends, free housing. No cutbacks to social welfare. How would the ...
PRESIDENT Obama introduced a new catchphrase in his 2015 State of the Union speech: Middle Class Economics. As he put it: [M]iddle class economics is -- the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules. Then he sharpened his definition. [M]iddle-class economics means helping working families feel ...
WE all know about government "free stuff". It's what governments do; they keep their supporters on-side with free stuff. What could go wrong? The answer is: Greece and Argentina. At some point, governments tend to run out of other peoples' money to give away. What do they do? Generally, they lie, cheat and steal some more, through devaluation of the currency and seizure of bank accounts. Then ...
WITH THE RUIN of the Obama presidency we have arrived at what President Obama likes to call a “teachable moment.” So finally, writes Bill Kristol, we can get the kids to go read a book: Hayek on intellectual conceit, James Q. Wilson on bureaucracy, Banfield on the city, Churchill on war, Orwell on the obvious, Lewis on chests. Not to mention his dad on “unanticipated consequences.”
But really, what good will it do?
Karl Marx ...
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM among western cultural elites is that God is dead and we are well rid of him.... more
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Heres how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>
The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
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