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Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2$
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Jonathan Bennett

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198250920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198250924.001.0001

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(p.307) Chapter 38 Reason
Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 2

Jonathan Bennett

Oxford University Press

Hume shares many philosophical opinions with Spinoza, including the view that there is no sharp radical intellectual difference in kind between humans and other animals. His account of reason's role in demonstrative reasoning is unstable and unclear: it involves a compulsion on the thinker's part, but not a compulsion to believe the conclusion. He offers a sceptical attack on reason—fighting it with its own weapons—purporting to show that none of its deliverances has any probative force whatsoever. In fact, it fails in two ways to secure this sceptical result. Hume, who thinks it does succeed, says that nevertheless nobody will be affected for long by that result; and he takes this as evidence of the robustness of human nature.

Keywords:   animal, demonstrative reasoning, human nature, Hume, reason, scepticism, Spinoza

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