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Encyclopedia > Hume's fork

In philosophy, Hume's fork is a distinction drawn by David Hume between two different areas of human study: Humes Fork is a satirical novel released in April 2007. ... For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... This article is about the philosopher. ...

All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic ... [which are] discoverable by the mere operation of thought ... Matters of fact, which are the second object of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing.
- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Hume's fork is often stated in such a way that statements are divided up into two types: For other uses, see Geometry (disambiguation). ... This article is about the branch of mathematics. ... Arithmetic tables for children, Lausanne, 1835 Arithmetic or arithmetics (from the Greek word αριθμός = number) is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. ... An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a book by philosopher David Hume, published in 1748. ...

In modern terminology, members of the first group are known as analytic propositions and members of the latter as synthetic propositions. This terminology comes from Kant (Introduction to Critique of Pure Reason, Section IV). IDEA may refer to: Electronic Directory of the European Institutions IDEA League Improvement and Development Agency Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Indian Distance Education Association Integrated Data Environments Australia Intelligent Database Environment for Advanced Applications IntelliJ IDEA - a Java IDE Interactive Database for Energy-efficient Architecture International IDEA (International Institute... Th analytic-synthetic distinction (or dichotomy) is a conceptual distinction, used primarily in philosophy to distinguish propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... In formal logic, a modal logic is any logic for handling modalities: concepts like possibility, existence, and necessity. ... For other uses, see Knowledge (disambiguation). ... The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish between two different types of propositional knowledge. ... For other uses, see World (disambiguation). ... Modal logic, or (less commonly) intensional logic is the branch of logic that deals with sentences that are qualified by modalities such as can, could, might, may, must, possibly, and necessarily, and others. ... A Posteriori is the title of the musical project Enigmas sixth studio album, released in September 2006. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... The terms analytic and synthetic are philosophical terms, used by philosophers to divide propositions into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. ... Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804) was a Prussian philosopher, generally regarded as one of Europes most influential thinkers and the last major philosopher of the Enlightenment. ... Title page of the 1781 edition. ...

Into the first class fall statements such as "2 + 2 = 4", "all bachelors are unmarried", and truths of mathematics and logic. Into the second class fall statements like "the sun rises in the morning", "the Earth has precisely one moon", and "water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit".

Hume wants to prove that certainty does not exist in science. A related article is titled uncertainty. ...

First, Hume notes that statements of the second type can never be entirely certain, due to the fallibility of our senses, the possibility of deception (see e.g. the modern brain in a vat theory) and other arguments made by philosophical skeptics. It is always logically possible that any given statement about the world is false. (Note that statements like "either the Earth has precisely one moon, or not" are really truths of logic, and say nothing about the world). In philosophy, the brain-in-a-vat is any of a variety of thought experiments intended to draw out certain features of our ideas of knowledge, reality, truth, mind, and meaning. ...

Second, Hume claims that our belief in cause-and-effect relationships between events is not grounded on reason, but rather arises merely by habit or custom. Suppose one states: "Whenever someone on earth lets go of a rock, it falls." While we can grant that in every instance thus far when a rock was dropped on Earth it went down, this does not give us any reason to think that in the future, rocks will fall when in the same circumstances. It would give us reason only if we add as a premise that the future will resemble the past. But that isn't something that we can know based on past experience -- all past experience could tell us is that in the past, the future has resembled the past.

Third, Hume notes that relations of ideas can be used only to prove other relations of ideas, and mean nothing outside of the context of how they relate to each other, and therefore tell us nothing about the world. Take the statement "An equilateral triangle has three sides of equal length." While some earlier philosophers (most notably Plato and Descartes) held that logical statements such as these contained the most formal reality, since they are always true and unchanging, Hume held that, while true, they contain no formal reality, because the truth of the statements rests on the definitions of the words involved, and not on actual things in the world, since there is no such thing as a true triangle or exact equality of length in the world. So for this reason, relations of ideas cannot be used to prove matters of fact. For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ...

The results claimed by Hume as consequences of his fork are drastic. According to him, relations of ideas can be proved with certainty (by using other relations of ideas), however, they don't really mean anything about the world. Since they don't mean anything about the world, relations of ideas cannot be used to prove matters of fact. Because of this, matters of fact have no certainty and therefore cannot be used to prove anything. Only certain things can be used to prove other things for certain, but only things about the world can be used to prove other things about the world. But since we can't cross the fork, nothing is both certain and about the world, only one or the other, and so it is impossible to prove something about the world with certainty.

If accepted, Hume's Fork makes it pointless to try to prove the existence of God (for example) as a matter of fact. If God is not literally made up of physical matter, and does not have an observable effect on the world, making a statement about God is not a matter of fact. Therefore, a statement about God must be a relation of ideas. In this case if we prove the statement "God exists," it doesn't really tell us anything about the world; it is just playing with words. It is easy to see how Hume's Fork voids the causal argument and the ontological argument for the existence of a non-observable (non-material) God. However, this does not mean that the validity of Hume's Fork would imply that God definitely does not exist, only that it would imply that the existence of God cannot be proven as a matter of fact without worldly evidence. Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, and others. ... An ontological argument for the existence of God is one that attempts the method of a priori proof, which utilizes intuition and reason alone. ...

Hume famously rejected the idea of any meaningful statement that did not fall into this schema, saying:

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
- An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

This same idea has perdured in relatively contemporary schools of philosophy, such as logical positivism. This general attitude is strikingly present in Alfred Ayer's logical empiricist work Language, Truth and Logic. For other uses, see Divinity (disambiguation) and Divine (disambiguation). ... Plato (Left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. ... Sophism was originally a term for the techniques taught by a highly respected group of philosophy and rhetoric teachers in ancient Greece. ... An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a book by philosopher David Hume, published in 1748. ... Logical positivism grew from the discussions of Moritz Schlicks Vienna Circle and Hans Reichenbachs Berlin Circle in the 1920s and 1930s. ... Ayer redirects here. ... The cover of a 1952 version of Language, Truth and Logic Language, Truth and Logic, a work of philosophy by Alfred Jules Ayer, published in 1936) defines, explains and argues for the verification principle of logical positivism, sometimes referred to as the criterion of significance or criterion of meaning. The...


The most common criticism of the Fork is that Hume must base this argument on relations of ideas alone if it is to be certainly true, according to his definition. That being the case, the argument cannot be applied to matters of fact (that is, the world). Thus, the argument is self-refuting – it cannot make an absolute claim about the world by virtue of its proposition.

There are two other notable objections to Hume's fork. Kant, for example, famously defended the idea of synthetic a priori propositions. W.V.O. Quine also argued against the well-defined distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions required by Hume's fork in his landmark paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Kant redirects here. ... W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ... W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ... Quines paper Two Dogmas of Empiricism, published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth century philosophy in the analytic tradition. ...


Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... This article is about the philosopher. ... A Treatise of Human Nature is a book by philosopher David Hume, published in 1739–1740. ... An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a book by philosopher David Hume, published in 1748. ... An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is a book by Scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume. ... Four Dissertations is a collection of four essays by the Scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume. ... Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion was written by skeptical philosopher David Hume. ... The History of Great Britain (volume 1) is a book by David Hume published in 1754. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (825x1000, 91 KB) Found at Web Gallery of Art File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): David Hume Empiricism Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) Category talk:Philosophers User:Primalchaos... A teleological argument, or argument from design, is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design and/or direction in nature. ... The problem of induction is the philosophical issue involved in deciding the place of induction in determining empirical truth. ... David Hume raised the is-ought problem in his Treatise of Human Nature. ... Humes principle is a standard for comparing any two sets of objects as to size. ... In meta-ethics, Humes Law says that normative statements cannot be deduced exclusively from descriptive statements. ... For the novel of the same name, see Humes Fork (novel). ... Of Miracles is the title of Section X of David Humes An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748). ... The Scottish Enlightenment was a period of intellectual ferment in Scotland, running from approximately 1740 to 1800. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... The price specie flow mechanism is a logical mechanism created by David Hume which dispeled the Mercantilist (1500-1776) notion that a nation can have a continuously favorable balance of trade. ...



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