chapter  11
20 Pages

Hume on the Methods and Limits of the Science of Human Nature

WithSaul Traiger

Hume is often described as an empiricist and follower of Locke’s new way of ideas, a philosopher who promised to reduce our understanding of human nature to the impressions and ideas discoverable by introspection. Looking beyond Book 1 of the Treatise however, where Hume’s science of human nature accounts for both reasoning and affect, this characterization is less compelling. Hume finds reason and passion working at times in opposition, but at other times in cooperation, and his attempt to provide a science of human nature that is true both to our cognitive and affective features reveals a methodological shift from introspection to the observation of the human body, other animals, other persons, and society. Hume anticipates trends in recent work in the cognitive and brain sciences which emphasize the interplay of cognition and affect.