11 June 2011

Shadworth Hodgson

"We shall have to consider in the course of these pages whether any causal relation obtains between these two correlates, necessity and universality. For the present it is enough to explain, that no necessity can be admitted to exist in the objective world; that what we call a necessary sequence is necessary solely in reference to our understanding, because we refer the consequent to a special antecedent, and bring it thus under some law which we think of as fixed, at least so far as the particular case under consideration in concerned; and that the only thing which corresponds to our notion of necessity in nature in the phenomenon of universality."


Henry said...

Is this different from what Hume said about cause and effect? Is "necessary sequence" different from "cause and effect"?

Christopher said...

I think what Hodgson is saying is more Kantian in spirit than Humean.

You'll remember that Kant wrote that Hume's writings (on precisely this issue) awoke him from his "dogmatic slumber," and caused him to embark on the critical philosophy that has subsequently made a rather large mark in the world.

Kant, after waking from the slumber, said in essence that it is perfectly okay for us to treat universality AS IF it involves necessity, so long as we understand that we are speaking only of the phenomenal world when we speak so.

Hodgson was trying, I think, to translate that thought into English (not just the language but the forms of thought of English folk) -- removing from it the convoluted Teutonic forms of expression.

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.