Hume missing shade of blue summary. epistemology 2019-02-12

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The Missing Shade of Blue: Hume’s Philosophy of Sensory Experience

hume missing shade of blue summary

Theories are engines for research, and this helps explain why the Duhem-Quine thesis does not undermine scientific practice. Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Later Hume will divide all objects of human reason into '' and ''. If it be allowed that the notion of hue can arise through abstraction even though it cannot in any instance be separated from a given example then it may be fairly argued that the ability to fill a gap in the colour space is quite a different matter to coming up with an isolated idea without any prior impression. What are the meaningful questions that can be asked, and what is beyond the reach of this kind of inquiry? I've always thought that the missing shade of blue bit was Hume's way of relieving his empiricism of some absoluteness. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Eastern Daylight Time, rpaul xxxxxxxx writes: Dear Mr Trogge, Let me congratulate you again on your erudition.

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Hume's Missing Shade of Blue, Interpreted as Involving Habitual Spectra, Hume Studies

hume missing shade of blue summary

Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. They comprehend all simple ideas under them. We could also have an idea of a missing sound, or taste, or smell, or tactile quality. Now I ask, whether 'tis possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea Journal Hume Studies — Hume Society Published: Jan 26, 1989. The proviso that they do not share anything in common is important because otherwise this feature might be separated off and this would show that the original idea was in fact complex. Now I ask, whether 'tis possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, tho' it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? But Hume is clear and, it seems to me, serious : colours are simple ideas, the subject imagines has an image of the missing shade, it is an exception to his Principle; and he also appears to recognize that the instance generalizes to other colours and to other sensory modalities.

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epistemology

hume missing shade of blue summary

Hume begins the relevant paragraph by talking about both sounds and colours. Though a particular colour, taste, and smell, are qualities all united together in this apple, it is easy to perceive they are not the same, but are at least distinguishable from each other. In my opinion, all that Hume wanted to show was that an idea considered major can be broken into elementary fragments whose origin can be traced as the imprints of our sensory experience. He argued that it is impossible for the mind to create an idea or concept without being exposed to the rudiments of sensory experience. The problem with this claim is that there needs to be some way of showing that the exception really is limited and will not affect the important general claim that ideas depend on impressions.

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Hume's Missing Shade of Blue, Interpreted as Involving Habitual Spectra, Hume Studies

hume missing shade of blue summary

There is nothing more to an idea than that which can be discerned within it. He holds that a simple idea is always copied from an antecedent similar impression. This being the case it is not necessary to construct an elaborately worked out example; it would be sufficient to say that we might have been constituted differently. I believe it will readily be allowed, that the several distinct ideas of colour, which enter by the eye, or those of sound, which are conveyed by the ear, are really different from each other; though, at the same time, resembling. That emphasis really consists in the claim that, ultimately, there can be no ideas without impressions. The first fails to offer an explanation as to why Hume has presented us with the contradiction, and the second fails to deal with the fact that Hume himself insists that it really is a contradiction. It is rather that the character of the phenomenon itself does not clearly run counter to the essential emphasis of Hume's doctrine.


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epistemology

hume missing shade of blue summary

It is not an admission of innatism, nor is it a claim that the idea was, as it were, produced out of a hat. But if this is the case, why then does Hume claim that the example is a counterexample? It would certainly still be the case that the ability to conjure up the idea of the missing shade of blue is dependent on at least some prior impressions. Though a particular colour, taste, and smell, are qualities all united together in this apple, it is easy to perceive they are not the same, but are at least distinguishable from each other. These are the Newtonian elements in Smith. My idea was that perhaps the ideas derived from the impressions of the nearby colors could be combined, augmented and diminished three of the four ways Hume states that ideas can be conjoined to create the idea of the missing shade. There is nothing more to an idea than that which can be discerned within it.

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A Test: Hume's Missing Shade of Blue

hume missing shade of blue summary

Be that as it may, this dissolving of the problem fails to meet the second and third criteria listed above. If it be allowed that the notion of hue can arise through abstraction even though it cannot in any instance be separated from a given example, then it may be fairly argued that the ability to fill a gap in the colour space is quite a different matter to coming up with an isolated idea without any prior impression. Note that if one assumes that ideas cannot be generated without impressions, then a possible negation of the proposition is not possible. What if then, if the person is blind, is it possible for him to create colours from combinations of colours presented to him? Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, beplac'd before him. If this is a Relation of Ideas, then it does not necessarily say anything true about the world, and this will not suit Hume's purpose at all; if it is a Matter of Fact, then the contrary must be possible. It is the same case with particular sounds, and tastes and smells. Keywords: , , , , ,.

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Hume's Missing Shade of Blue Re

hume missing shade of blue summary

If an eye is presented with a set of predefined colours, then the eye consequently, the person will be able to distinguish the differences between those colours. I believe it will readily be allowed, that the several distinct ideas of colour, which enter by the eye, or those of sound, which are conveyed by the ear, are really different from each other; though, at the same time, resembling. As Hume requires the subject viewing the different shades of blue arranged in depth order to have prior complete experience of colour, all that the subject viewing the shades would do if he fills in the missing shade of which he has had no prior experience of is make an a priori judgment. Nelson It is obviously important for Hume's purposes in the Treatise to maintain that simple ideas are always founded in precedent, resembling impressions;1 and he explicitly, over and over, does so, even sometimes being so carried away by this first principle of his science of man T 7 or so careless as to say that not just all simple ideas but all ideas are founded in precedent, resembling impressions. The proviso that they do not share anything in common is important because otherwise this feature might be separated off and this would show that the original idea was in fact complex.

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Hume's Missing Shade of Blue Re

hume missing shade of blue summary

According to this view Hume was wrong when he claimed that it was possible to form an idea of the missing shade. However, without further argument it is not obvious that we are endowed with any such ability and, if we were, it is not clear why it would be limited to the mixing of closely related impressions; yet, if this were not the case, then, contrary to what Morris says, it would open the floodgates to a range of philosophically suspect ideas. Indeed, even after experiencing the full range of colours a little experimentation will soon show that it is much easier for most people to recognise that there is a missing shade than it is for them to actually form a clear idea of that missing shade. The problem with this claim is that there needs to be some way of showing that the exception really is limited and will not affect the important general claim that ideas depend on impressions. His example does not, strictly, disobey this principle since, presumably, Hume would argue that, without sensory experience of other colours and particularly of other shades of blue, the missing shade could not be envisaged. According to this view Hume was wrong when he claimed that it was possible to form an idea of the missing shade.

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What is the purpose of Hume's 'missing shade of blue' thought experiment?

hume missing shade of blue summary

His example does not, strictly, disobey this principle since, presumably, Hume would argue that, without sensory experience of other colours and particularly of other shades of blue, the missing shade could not be envisaged. I believe it will readily be allowed, that the several distinct ideas of colour, which enter by the eye, or those of sound, which are conveyed by the ear, are really different from each other; though, at the same time, resembling. The inconsequential hypothetical possibility that we are able to raise up to ourselves the idea of the missing shade of blue, even if in practice this doesn't ever happen, will ensure that Hume's description of the origin of ideas is grounded in fact. And yet from their very nature, which excludes all composition, this circumstance, in which they resemble, is not distinguishable nor separable from the rest. Of course, it may just be that Hume was aware of it as an exception and was being open and honest. Now if this be true of different colours, it must be no less so of the different shades of the same colour; and each shade produces a distinct idea, independent of the rest.

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A Test: Hume's Missing Shade of Blue

hume missing shade of blue summary

What then, is this counterexample dismissed? It is regarded as a problem by philosophers because it appears to stand in direct contradiction to what Hume had just written. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be plac'd before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; 'tis plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place betwixt the contiguous colours, than in any other. The idea here is that just as paints are mixed to produce the range of colour swatches found in a hardware store, so it should be possible for colours to be mixed in the mind in some kind of analogous way. He is speaking of a conceivable contradiction, not an actual one. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? Those who would assert, that this position is not universally true nor without exception, have only one, and at that an easy method of refuting it; by producing that idea, which, in their opinion, is not derived from this source. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, beplac'd before him.

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