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Lecture: Hume's Philosophy of Science

Posted by Brianne Leith on June 25, 2014


James M. Mattingly, a Georgetown University professor and St. John’s alum, offered the following description of his June 25 lecture in Annapolis:

"In Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Newton outlines a complete program for experimental natural philosophy.  Hume’s overt purpose in A Treatise of Human Nature is to found a science of man on this experimental philosophy. But what is Newton's method? Famously he rejects hypotheses and instead relies on what he calls deduction from the phenomena. Here we will begin by distinguishing two ways this deduction can be understood, and then see how one of these—the accepted version in Hume’s day—is the true target of the skepticism that is most clearly displayed in Treatise 1.4.2, while the other is substantially Hume’s invention and provides a philosophy of science that suffices both to capture the crucial insights of Newton’s Principia and to provide a program for Hume’s own science of man. A question that remains is whether this philosophy of science is an adequate account of the contemporary sciences, especially the quantum theory.”

Want to experience a Wednesday night lecture for yourself? Join us July 2 at 7:30 p.m. for William Braithwaite’s lecture, "On Reading Poetry Aloud: Some Lessons from Shakespeare's As You Like It." Click here to see the full schedule for the Annapolis Wednesday night lecture series.