Philosophy Seminar Series: 15 July 2010, 2-4pm, Philosophy Resource Room; Speaker: Stephen Gaukroger (Professor, History of Philosophy and Science, University of Sydney and Professor, Philosophy, University of Aberdeen); Moderator: Dr. Loy Hui Chieh
Abstract: The paper sets out to try and make sense of the role that metaphysics plays for Hume in our understanding of the world and our place in it. I’m going to pursue this question in terms of two issues: reason and scepticism, and reason and sensibility. On scepticism, I’ll argue that Hume is not a sceptic as such: he believes that there are valid metaphysical arguments that lead to scepticism, e.g. about causation, but his conclusion is: so much the worse for metaphysics, taken as a reliable form of understanding in its own right. On sensibility, which is the main focus of the paper, I want to explore the idea that understanding for Hume consists in a judicious combination of propositional (e.g. metaphysical) considerations and non-propositional considerations.
About the speaker: Stephen Gaukroger is Professor of History of Philosophy and Science, University of Sydney, Australia, and Professor of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is the author of: Descartes, An Intellectual Biography (OUP, 1995); Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early-Modern Philosophy (CUP, 2001); Descartes’ System of Natural Philosophy (CUP, 2002). For the past 15 years, he has been working on a projected 6-volume account of the emergence of a scientific culture in the West. The first volume appeared as: The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1210-1685 (OUP, 2005). The second volume, The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760 is to be published by OUP in December. I am presently at work on the third volume, The Humanization of Nature and the Naturalization of the Human, which will take the story up to the 1820s or 1830s.