Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Texas Tech University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF

May, 1990 Copyright LaVonne Zinck Faruki 1990 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Jeffrey Smitten and Dr. Richard Crider for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this thesis. I am especially indebted to

Dr. Smitten for his guidance in critical - TABLE OF CONTENTS




The Argument from External Evidence- . - - - 3


Hayden White, Kenneth Burke, and Tropological Theory 36

The Scholarship on Dialectical Irony and Dialogicity 41


The Tropical Turn from Synecdoche to

Metonymy in the Treatise ..... 48

Hume's Divided Consciousness 63

Incipients of Dialectical Irony in the Treatise 75 Irreducible Conflicts: The Privileging of Hume's Doctrine? 108 Conclusion to Chapter 2 ....- 117



Metonymy and Synecdoche in the Enquiry ... 122

Irony in the Enquiry -...- 133

The Nature of Sections I - VII: A Summary . 144

Irony as Structure and the Test of 146 Conclusion to Chapter 4 201






I had always entertained a , that my want of success in publishing the Treatise of Human Nature, had proceeded more from the manner than the , and that I had been guilty of a very usual indis­ cretion, in going to the press too early. I, therefore, cast the first part of that work anew in the Enquiry concerning Human . ...

David Hume in "My Own Life"

Why did Hume "recast" the Treatise of Human Nature into the work that we now know as the Enquiry concerning Human

Understandinq? What are scholars—both philosophical and

literary—to make of his rather elliptical remark about the

"manner" of the first work? It is generally agreed that what

Hume meant by "manner" concerned components of his "," but here the agreement ends. Some critics maintain that Hume

rewrote the Treatise as a part of his quest for literary

fame; others maintain that Hume assumed the new literary

stance in response to the social or cultural milieu of the

Age of Enlightenment; still critics feel Hume rewrote

the work to improve the clarity of his own . Philo­

sophical commentators add critiques of the respective content of the two works, with the Enquiry generally receiving lower marks in philosophical acumen and contribution. None of these critics, as far as I can deter­ mine, has considered the revision as anything more than a surface job; even when the analysis plumbs the depths of

Hume's as manifested by his discourse, it generally treats of local and isolated discursive elements.

I would like to propose a study of Hume's discourse in these two epistemological works which would bridge the gaps between the local patches of densely studied discourse. To do this, a sustained probe of Hume's intention, which only be found far beneath the surface of the stylistic

features, must be conducted. Within these covert layers of

discourse, the deep structure of the work can be explored, revealing the form of the author's as it was

captured and quick- in the form of the written artifact.

I assert that such a study, which will necessarily

involve a structuralist approach, will not only be a

fruitful method of studying David Hume's discourse in

particular, but will yield insights into the Hume

rewrote the Treat!se in the way he did. The basis of my

analysis, then, will be the tropological approach to discourse as elaborated by Hayden White and Kenneth Burke,

especially the former's "archetypal plot of discursive

formation." This approach will help support my contention

that Hume did not merely revise in the interest of fame or public applause- On the contrary, my analysis will show that

Hume, as an author and thinker, had much more complex goals in —to unite the boundaries of the various types of philosophy and to harmonize philosophy with the common life—when he recast the Treatise and that in order to conceive of and realize these goals, he underwent an intel­ lectual transformation which is reflected in the discourse of his second epistemological work. The result of this analysis, then, will demonstrate that the Enquiry is not merely a popularization of the Treatise, but a reconcep- tualization of it.

The Argument from External Evidence

In this thesis, two kinds of evidence concerning Hume"s

intention in recasting the Treatise will be investigated:

external evidence, which includes documents and letters

known to be written by Hume himself; and internal evidence,

which involves structural analysis of the primary works under study. The first kind of evidence is important to the

question at hand since certain prominent critics have used the external sources as the basis of their analysis of

Hume's intention. However, the same sources provide evidence

for my contention that Hume's revisions are based on an

intellectual reconceptualization of the work.

Among the most important of Hume's critics who assert that Hume recast the Treatise in the interest of popular

applause is L-A. Selby-Bigge- In his comparative analysis of the two works in the introduction to the Enquiries concerning Human Understandi nq and concerning the Pri nci pies of Morals (third edition), he notes that the Treatise is a more complex and abstruse work than its recast version and that in the revisions "... CHumel ignores much with which he had formerly vexed his own and his readers' , and like a man of the world takes the line of least resis­ tance. . . " (Nidditch x). Selby-Bigge also points out the

"wholesale omission and insertion" that took place during the revisions and concludes that they can't be attributed to

. - . philosophical discontent with the positions or arguments, or to a general desire to fill up a gap in the system, but must be ascribed rather to a general desire to make the Enquiry readable. Parts ii and iv are certainly the hardest in the Trea­ tise, and the least generally interesting to the habitues of coffee-houses, especially at a period when the greatest part of men have agreed to convert reading into an amusement; whereas a lively and sceptical discussion of miracles and providence could hardly fail to find readers, attract attention, and excite that 'murmur among the zealots' by which the author desired to be distinguished. (Nidditch xii)

Furthermore, Selby-Bigge does not count himself among those who agree with Hume that the Enquiries should be considered as the definitive version of his "philosophical sentiments and " (in Hume's Advertisement to the posthumous edition of his Collected C17771). Indeed, according to Selby-Bigge, some critics consider Hume's declaration about the Enquiri es as ". . . an interesting indication of the character of a man who had long ago given up philosophy, who always had a passion for applause, and little respect or generosity for his own failures" (Nidditch ix). He asserts that

Book I of the Treatise is beyond a work of first-rate philosophic importance, and in some ways the most important work of philosophy in the English language. It would be impossible to say the same of the Enquiries- . - - (Nidditch x) and that the first Enquirv is of a "lower philosophical standard" than the Treatise (Nidditch xiv)- Thus, to Selby-

Bigge, the first Enquirv is simply a work in which Hume sacrificed philosophical to popular applause-

Ernest Campbell Mossner, Hume's biographer, takes a similar stance regarding the new version of the Treatise-

"Gone are the hesitations of the Treatise, the intricacies of detail, the tortured analysis—gone, too, inevitably are some fine passages which had shown aspects of modern philo­ sophy in the making. . . " (Life 175). Although Mossner rejects any notion that ascribes unworthy motives to Hume— including charges of notoriety seeking and mere striving after vulgar success (Philosophy 185), he nonetheless claims that Hume recast the content of the Treatise into the more popular and less learned essay format ( fe 140) which was

"better suited to public " (Li fe 134).

Other critics take a similar position regarding the revisions. The American historian, John Herman Randall, declares that Hume's whole philosophical career reflects his

"quest for literary fame and success" (qtd. in Shapiro 133). For T. H- Huxley, Hume was interested in "notoriety" (qtd- in Passmore 3). In his philosophical critique of Hume's , John Passmore explains the revisions from a stylistic and rhetorical standpoint: Hume wished to remove digressions, thereby enhancing his al1-important ""; and to employ an "elegant and sprightly manner" which would

"- - . make his doctrines intelligible to an audience domi­ nated by the ideal of ''" (16; see also 15). Other rhetorical approaches which emphasize reader appeal as the motive for revision include that of John Richetti, who points out that Hume's reworked version of the Treati se establishes a "more polite and insinuating" persona and that its new attitude "bluntCs3 the polemical edge" of the work

(43-4); and that of John V. Price, who also says that Hume has toned down "some of the obstreperous passages" in the

Treatise (46).

When Selby-Bigge, Mossner, and the other critics intimate that Hume revised the Treati se with public approval in mind, they do so on the basis of documentary evidence in

Hume's own words. The author himself states, in his autobio­ graphy, that literary fame was his "ruling passion"; and this , which is not much more than a recounting of his works and the public response to them, was written in

April 1776 (Mossner, Life 224) in the last months of his life. So Hume was apparently always concerned with the public response to his literary endeavors, beginning from youth, when he wrote the Advertisement to the Treatise, which reads in part:

If I have the good fortune to meet with success Cwith Part 13, I shall proceed to the examination of morals, politics, and criticism; which will compleat Csicl this Treatise of human nature. The approbation of the public I consider as the greatest reward of my labor; but am determined to regard its judgment, whatever it be, as my best instruction. (Nidditch xii)

In addition, there is epistolary evidence that Hume was

much concerned with public . Even in his earliest

known letter (1727), Hume demonstrated concern about his

audience. He wrote his friend Michael Ramsey, who had asked

to read the notes on Hume's new system, to explain that he

certainly could not send his "loose, uncorrect ."

Mossner remarks that "the primary requisite of a serious

thinker with original thoughts, he CHumel always main­

tained, is to present his thoughts so that they may be

understood by others" (Li fe 63).

Shortly after he finished writing the Treati se (in mid —

1737), Hume again showed consciousness of public response.

He felt confident that he could deliver his with

". . - such Elegance Z< Neatness, as to draw to me the

Attention of the World" (Mossner, Life 104).

Hume's concern with external judgment was apparently at

its apex during the early stages of his career as a man of

letters. Immediately after the publication of the Treati se,

7 Hume was eager to receive criticism of the work, not only of its ideas, but of its style. He inquired of friends like

Henry Home and presented copies to literary colleagues like

Pierre Desmaizeaux and to Dr. Butler, Bishop of Bristol, in hopes of receiving commentary on his work. In April 1739 he asked Desmaizeaux, by letter, "Have you found it Cthe

Treatise! sufficiently intelligible? Does it appear true to you? Do the Style 8* Language seem tolerable? These three

Questions comprehend every thing- . -" (Mossner, Life 119)-

When a review of the Treatise (Part I) appeared in the

History of the Works of the Learned, a year after the work was published, Hume apparently read the review and took its criticisms about style seriously, for some changes in the

Enquirv are consistent with these remarks- Since the revisions have bearing, however, on the structural hypothe­ sis of this paper, they will be discussed later in more detai1 -

After the publication of Part II of the Treatise, Hume laments in a letter to Frances Hutcheson: "I wish I cou'd discover more fully the particulars wherein I have fail'd," he writes, as he would like to frankly confess his errors, as did; he is further grateful, he says, for the invention of printing, as it makes possible the revision of works in subsequent editions (Greig 38—9)-

8 That Hume was avidly interested in the public appeal of his works is apparent to anyone who peruses his correspon­ dence. Such an interest is consistent with the egotistical attitude which Hume was taxed with by his reviewer: "This

Work abounds throughout with Egotisms." said the reviewer for the History of the Works of the Learned. "The Author would scarcely use that Form of speech Cthe first person

"I"3 more frequently, if he had written his own Memoirs"

(Mossner, Life 122). Such a self-vaunting attitude does not seem compatible with my assertion that Hume had much more complex goals than popular applause in mind when he recast the Treatise, goals which indicate that he became a more mature and sophisticated thinker by the he rewrote the

Treatise; and that the discourse in the Enquiry is reflec­ tive of Hume's new conceptual grasp of the - However, there is documentary evidence which supports my contention: that Hume was primarily interested in conceptual restruc— turalization of his discourse or at least as concerned with conceptual as with rhetorical revision.

It will be helpful in pursuing this hypothesis to consider Hume's response to the critical reviews of the

Treati se. The reviewers were not only harsh in their treatment of the Treati se's content, but were critical of its style as well; at the criticism bordered on a personal attack. Hume ignored the attacks on content and was justified in doing so, since his philosophical principles were frequently misunderstood. Indeed, he states in a letter that the principles contained in the Treatise were not dangerous (Mossner, Life 162) and writes another friend that the revised version of the work contains "... everything of Consequence relating to the Understanding, which you would meet within the Treatise" and that "the philosophical

Principles are the same in both" (Greig 158). The Advertise­ ment to the Philosophical Essays announces that "most of the principles, and reasonings, contained in this volume, were published in a work in three volumes, called a Treatise of

Human Nature- - ." (Nidditch 2). Interestingly enough, how­ ever, Hume did heed the criticism of his style.

The stylistic criticism had two major thrusts: complaints about intelligibility and about what could now be called his egotism. The remark about the "egotisms," cited above, consisted of merely two lines in a very lengthy and hostile review. The French journal- Bibliotheque raisonnee. also remarked on Hume's arrogance in their 1740 review:

. . - Cthe author3 has burst through the bounds of a prudent scepticism and has made too frequent use of those means of speaking so commonly used inappropriately, 'tis evident, 'tis certain, 'tis undeni able. . . . (Mossner, Li fe 130)

In another part of the same review, Hume is not only chided for exaggerating his to the point of

Pyrrhonism, but for his attitude as well:

10 The author is on all this Cpoints previously out­ lined 3 as positive as can be. The Lockes and the Clarkes are often, to his eyes, but paltry and superficial reasoners in comparison with himself: and, if it be permitted to speak his own language here, it is easy to see that habit and custom have already so framed him to believe that he nothing except in a very lively manner. (Mossner, Life 130)

It is not surprising that reviewers should take note of

Hume's arrogance- This stylistic feature is no more than a manifestation of the young 's frame of mind when he set out to study and to write his first work in the south

D^ France- Evidence for Hume's self-vaunting attitude can be found in an autobiographical letter of 1734:

Every one, who is acquainted either with the or Critics, knows that there is nothing yet establisht in either of these two , ?< that they contain little more than endless Disputes, even of the most fundamental Articles. Upon Examination of these, I found a certain Boldness of Temper, growing in me, which was not enclin'd to submit to any Authority in these Subjects, but led me to seek out some new Medium, by which might be establisht. (Mossner, Life 63)

In the same letter, he also finds fault with the

"philosophy transmitted to us by Antiquity" and remarks on his determination to make the

. - , Source from which I wou'd derive every Truth in Criticism as well as - ... little more is requir'd to make a man succeed in this Study than to throw off all Prejudices either for his own Opinions or for this Csicl of others. (Mossner, Li fe 73)

The French review also complains of Hume's language as sometimes unintelligible to his readers, a remark

11 which was echoed by other reviewers- The hostile English reviewer cited above declared that Hume "assumes the Air of a Sphinx-" The Gottinqische Zeitunqen- which Hume may or may not have seen, remarked in 1740 that "he has a great talent

for presenting in confused terms what others have stated clearly" (Mossner, Life 126); and when Hume published an

abstract of the Treatise- the Bibliotheque raisonnee noted

in 1740 that "some people having found that the Treatise of

Human Nature of Mr- Hume was a little too abstract, a

brochure has been published to help them understand it"

(Mossner, Life 125)- Also in 1740, in a letter to the peri­

odical Common , the writer complains of the book being

"so very abstruse and perplex'd" in several sections

(Mossner, Life 131)- Clarity was obviously a major problem,

according to the critics-

That Hume seriously considered the criticism on his

style is attested by (1) the finished nature of the Enquirv,

which incorporates corresponding revisions, and (2) episto­

lary evidence- In a letter to William Muir in 1742, he jokes

about an essay he will supposedly write about women: "- - -

being accus'd of being unintelligible in some of my writings, I shou'd be extremely in Danger of falling into that Fault, when I shou'd treat of a Subject so little to be understood as Women" (Greig 45). A year later he wrote Muir that the requisites of style were smoothness, harmoniousness and perspicuity-

That Hume improved the clarity of his expression is obvious to any reader of both the Treatise and the Enquirv.

As Mossner points out, the Philosophical Essays concerning

Human Understanding (the original title of the Enquirv) were artistic and polished (Life 175). Numerous other critics have noted the improved intelligibility. Although Hume

apparently improved the clarity of his writing in response to public criticism, I contend that the revisions are

indicative of an even deeper structural change which

reflects Hume's new goals in the writing of the Enquirv,

goals which have in turn been formulated as a result of his

transformed conceptualization of the material- As will be

seen in the analytical portions of this thesis, Hume's new

conceptualization resulted in a discourse which is grounded consistently in one ; it is this consistency which

confers a new clarity and intelligibility upon Hume's writing in the Enquiry-

Hume was apparently also aware of the problem of the egotistical tone, and he began to repudiate it- In April

1751, he wrote his friend Gilbert Elliot of Minto:

I believe the philosophical Essays contain every­ thing of Consequence relating to the Understanding, which you would meet within the Treatise, ?< I give you my Advice against reading the latter. By shortening and simplifying the Questions, I really render them much more complete. Addo dum minuo- The philosophical Principles are the same in both: But I was carry'd away by the Heat of Youth ?< Invention to publish too precipitately- So vast an Undertaking, plan'd before I was one and twenty, Sc compos'd before twenty five, must necessarily be very defective. I have repented my Haste a hundred, 8< a hundred times- (Greig 158)

One further letter is more specific about the egotisms in the Treatise- In February 1754, Hume writes a friend, probably John Stewart, to correct his correspondent on a philosophical point and then continues:

I shall acknowledge- - - a very great Mistake in Conduct, viz my publishing at all the Treatise of human Nature, a Book which pretended to innovate in all the sublimest Parts of Philosophy, & which I compos'd before I was five ?< twenty. Above all, the positive Air, which prevails in that Book, S< which may be imputed to the Ardor of Youth, so much displeases me, that I have not the Patience to review it- (Greig 187)

That Hume managed in great part to remove the

"egotisms" in the Phi 1osophical Essays is evident. Far fewer expressions such as "tis evident" are found, and the first person pronoun is used less frequently. He also comes across to the reader as more modest since he seldom mentions other philosophers by name, and then usually in footnotes; for the most part, he simply refers to "philosophers" or "­ ists" or "sceptics."

But these changes are merely superficial ones, and I believe that Hume opted for a much more pervasive stylistic change- He could have opted simply to reduce the "egotisms"

(the "tis evident"s and the first person pronoun), and to

14 either excise or write more clearly the abstruse portions that his critics complained about; then simply patch the whole work together- But Hume did not choose to do that-

Instead, as this thesis will show, he rewrote the entire work, grounding his discourse in a particular trope until the latter sections, where he adopts the trope of dialectial irony. This new approach situates his discourse in the midst of other (that of rationalists and skeptics) and makes it possible for Hume to test the usefulness and truth of his discourse against those other perspectives- It is di^^icult, indeed, for Hume to appear egotistical when he is doing his best to present other points of view fairly and completely; and when he is constructing something very similar to a , where each party is given an opportunity to fully set forth his case and to opponents' arguments-

The external evidence, then, and what it implies about the work's internal construction, indicates to me that Hume had come to consider himself as part of a community of thinkers, not an individual who has set himself against others and who is intent on vanquishing their perspectives with his own mono—voiced and egotistical approach- Hume realized, either consciously or unconsciously, that if he wished to validate his own philosophical principles as elaborated in discourse, it would have to be within the context of this community of thinkers; that a sort of conversation—an interchange of discourses, if you will — would have to take place- Such a conclusion can be further substantiated by a close study of the texts, which I will carry out in Parts II and III of this thesis; but it can also be supported by the external evidence-

Hume's propensity for conversational give-and-take is obvious in his early letters and is reflective of the age: the of polite conversation was a pervasive characteris­ tic of the cultured class in the eighteenth century. In his

first extant letter (7-4-1727), Hume declared that ". . . the free conversation of a friend is what I would prefer to

any " (Greig 9)- To his friend Henry Home he wrote, "- . - I would certainly engage you to pass some philosophical evenings with me, S< either correct my

judgment, where you differ from me, or confirm it where we agree" (Greig 25)-

His eagerness to discuss philosophy and his own work was evident after the publication of the Treatise in 1739, as indicated above- But the first that he was consid­ ering, even remotely, his avowed goal, mentioned in the

Enquiry, of uniting the boundaries of the can be found in a letter to Frances Hutcheson, who critiqued

Hume's lack of "warmth in the Cause of ." Hume replied:

16 I must own, this has not happen'd by Chance. . . I am perswaded Csicl that a Metaphysician may be very helpful to a Moralist, tho' I cannot easily con­ ceive those two Characters united in the same Work. Any warm Sentiments of Morals, I am afraid, wou'd have the Air of Declamation amidst abstract Reasonings, £^ wou'd be esteemed contrary to good Taste- - - - I hope these will satisfy you tho' at the same time, I intend to make a new Tryal, if it be possible to make the Moralist and the Metaphysician agree a little better- - - - (Greig 32-3)

Later on, when the publication (in 1741-2) of his

Essays Moral and Political was deemed a success, Hume wrote

Henry Home a letter (in 1742) which indicates that he had discovered he could ventriloquize—write in the language of others—which is the first hint that he could assume the perspective of others:

They Cthe successful essays3 may prove like dung with marl, and bring forward the rest of my phi­ losophy, which is of a more durable, though of a harder and and more stubborn nature. You see I can talk to you in your own style. (Greig 42)

An interesting sidelight about these essays concerns a passage from one called "Of Essay Writing," which Hume withdrew from subsequent editions:

- - - I cannot but consider myself as a Kind of Resident or Ambassador from the Dominions of to those of Conversation; and shall think it my constant Duty to promote good Corre­ spondence betwixt these two States, which have so great a Dependence on each other- I shall give Intelligence to the Learned of whatever passes in Company, and shall endeavor to import into Company whatever Commodities I find in my native Country proper for their Use and Entertainment . - - - (Mossner, Life 142)

17 This interesting passage is reminiscent of one of

Hume's purposes in writing the Enquirv; to harmonize the

common life experience with philosophy- Such a goal

naturally involves an ironic consciousness, an awareness and

understanding of other viewpoints.

As the years continued, Hume's emphasis on the

exchange of ideas became more pronounced. According to

Klibansky and Mossner, as early as 1751, "Hume was

circulating a MS of his concerning Natural

Religion among his Edinburgh friends. Gilbert Elliot and

Hugh Blair dissauded him from publication- . -" (71 fn)-

That Hume was not only interested in their praise or opinion

whether it should be published is indicated by the following

letter about the Dialogues to Elliot in March 1751:

I have often thought, that the best way of com­ posing a Dialogue, wou'd be for two persons that are of different Opinions about any Question of Importance, to write alternately the different Parts of the Discourse, Zt reply to each other. By this Means, that vulgar Error would be avoided, of putting nothing but Nonsense into the Mouth of the Adversary: And at the same time, a Variety of Character & Genius being upheld, wou'd make the Whole look more natural & unaffected- - - - (Greig 154)

He writes to James Balfour in 1753 about the same topic;

I must only complain of you a little for ascribing to me the sentiments which I have put into the mouth of the Sceptic in the Dialogue. I have surely endeavored to refute the Sceptic with all the force of which I am master; and my refutation must be allowed sincere, because drawn from the capital principles of my system. But you impute to me both

18 the sentiments of the Sceptic and the sentiments of his antagonist, which I can never admit of. In every Dialogue, no more than one person can be supposed to represent the author. (Greig 173)

Finally, to Andrew Millar, his publisher, in September

1757, he writes about Dr. Warburton's criticism of his

History of England:

As to my opinions, you know I defend none of them positively: I only propose my , where I am so unhappy as not to recei>/e the same Conviction as the rest of Mankind. It suprizes Csicl me much to see anybody, who pretends to be a Man of Letters, discover Anger on that Account; since it is certain- by the Experience of all Ages, that nothing contributes more to the of Learning than such Disputes and Novelties. (Greig 265)

Hume had come to consider his perspective as one among

a community of perspectives, rather than to see himself

as a bold seer out to slay all the dragons of error.

Naturally, this transformed self- is reflected in

the new goals for his discourse. Keeping these points in

mind, then, the guestion becomes how any sort of meeting of

intellectual positions, much less a , can be achieved

unless all the vagaries of these perspectives are honestly

explored? And how can this exploration take place without an

interchange; a dialogue, as it were, of discourses? Indeed,

any claim that Hume was not cognizant of the implications of

this new dialectical approach would be difficult to defend.

Furthermore, although there is abundant evidence that Hume was concerned with public applause, there is also

19 evidence of his growing disenchantment with the public and its usefulness as a guide or as a judge of the quality of his literary endeavors. In his autobiography, Hume is care­ ful to point out that in spite of the poor reception of many of his works, his disposition remained equable. Whether or not this is accurate, it is obvious that negative or even hostile criticism certainly never deterred him from writing and publishing his works, even though he lost coveted positions because of the opinions expressed therein. His attitude about some of the criticism could even be jocular, as can be seen in letters cited above.

One of the first of Hume's disenchantment with public opinion can be found in a letter to John Clephane, which he wrote about three years (1751) after the publication of the Philosophical Essays:

It appears to me that apothecaries bear the same relation to physicians, that priests do to philos­ ophers; the ignorance of the former makes them positive, and dogmatical, and assuming, and enter— prising, and pretending, and consequently much more taking with the people. (Greig 150)

Here Hume passes a devastating judgment on the public, declaring that it prefers dogmatic and hypocritical writers.

As his next letter (probably to John Stewart in February

1754) indicates, Hume despairs of ever receiving any useful criticism from such an audience, at least in his lifetime.

Hume comments on the failure of the Treati se and the possible reception of the Phi 1osophical Essays:

20 But what success the same Doctrine, better illustrated and exprest, may meet with. Ad hue sub judice lis est. The Arguments have been laid before the World, and by some philosophical have been attended to. I am willing to be in­ structed by the Public; tho' human Life is so short that I despair of ever seeing the Decision. I wish I had always confin'd myself to the more easy Parts of Erudition. (Greig 187)

A year later, he wrote William Strahan, his publisher, about the "calumny" he received after Volume I of the History of

England was published: "The public is the most capricious mistress we can court; and we who write for Fame, must not be repuls'd by some Rigors, which are always temporary, where they are unjust" (Greig 222).

Apparently, by then, Hume no longer considered the public's response as a guide; it is capricious, something to be tolerated and endured- When its criticisms are unjust, time alone is necessary to prove public errors- Indeed, he urged this attitude upon Adam Smith in April 1759, when he wrote the latter upon publication of his The Theory of Moral

Senti ment;

- - - Think on the Emptiness 8c Rashness, and futility of the common Judgments of Men: How little they are regulated by Reason in any Subject, much more in philosophical Subjects, which so far exceed the comprehension of the Vulgar- - - - A wise man's Kingdom is his own Breast: Or, if he ever looks farther, it will only be to the Judg­ ment of a select few, who are free from Prejudices, & capable of examining his Work- Nothing indeed can be a stronger presumption of Falsehood than the Approbation of the Multitude- - . . (Klibansky S< Mossner 53) By August 1764, approximately twelve years before his

death, Hume has apparently arrived at a state of total

disenchantment with the public- Writing the Earl of

Hardwicke about impartiality in the writing of history, he


But I am so sick of all those Disputes and so full of Contempt towards all factious Judgments and indeed toward the Prejudices of what is call'd the Public, that I repent heartily my ever having committed any thing to Print- (Greig 461)

So the David Hume that began his career by saying that

he was resolved to consider the judgment of the public as

his best instruction has come to consider that the best

judgment that can be found is within his own breast. Certain

criticisms he took seriously, indeed, but it can be said

about David Hume that he never compromised his principles-

Style and structure he was willing to change, but not the

fruit of his thought. In , the transformed style and

structure in the Enguirv are merely a reflection of his new

way of conceiving of his topic: that his own perspective

was part of a community of perspectives and that if he would

ever validate his own ideas as reflected in discourse, it

must be within the crucible of all the other currents of

thought, as expressed in their discourses. When Hume declared that the failure of the Treatise lay in "the manner and not the matter," the external evidence and its implications for the work's internal structure indicate that he could well have had this very thing in mind. Considering all of the evidence, then, I contend that Hume had other and more important aims besides public applause when he rewrote the Treatise; and that these aims are connected with his

desire to act as an ambassador from the "Dominions of

Learning" to those of everyday conversation, and with his

emerging inclination to situate his own discourse within a

community of other perspectives. Although we have no drafts,

no memoranda, no scratch outlines to tell us directly, I

contend that the internal evidence will also support the

conclusion that although David Hume had one ear cocked

toward the murmurs of his public, his mind was wholly

occupied with the bold and weighty process of shaping his

discourse to achieve his two grand goals-




That David Hume did not revise the Treatise merely for the sake of popular applause is borne out by the external evidence of letters and documents- In fact, the letters provide tantalizing hints of the author's new discursive

approach to his topic: an approach which embodies a dialectical investigation into the subject matter and which

has no room for "egotisms-" Such a fundamental change in discourse could not be realized without a change in the

author's conceptualization of the material, and I contend that the traces of this intellectual transformation on

Hume's part can be discerned internally, deep within the structural strata of his texts- In fact, the fundamental premise of this thesis is that only a structuralist critical method is adequate to account for both the nature of Hume's discourse in his epistemological works, and for the nature and rationale of the revisions Hume made when he recast the

Treatise into the first Enouirv-

Most of the critical treatments of Hume's epistemo­ logical discourse, however, have concentrated on the surface features of the works. These studies have yielded valuable insights into Hume's style or rhetoric, yet have continued to tout either the literary fame or some other

24 theory which emphasizes Hume's response to social/cultural factors to account for the changes he made in the Treatise.

I believe their emphasis on external features of the work has limited the corresponding insight into Hume's intentions in recasting it.

John Valdimir Price, for example, in his book The

Ironic Hume makes the case that in the eighteenth century, irony was the prevalent literary mode: "The world in which

Hume lived," he writes, "was one that responded to irony and satire because it felt that they were accurate representa­ tions of life, life seen through a two-way mirror" (22).

Furthermore, he asserts that Hume was purposely ironic in the Treatise, especially in his treatment of religion, to avoid persecution and possible danger to his life.

As mentioned in the first chapter of this thesis. Price points out that the "obstreperous" passages of the Treatise are toned down in the Enquiry, and he quotes Anthony Flew's remarks that the "egotisms" have been excised and that "the self-questioning anxieties and the leaping youthful aspira­ tions have been replaced by a more assured and controlled flow of argument" (47). Although these are only remarks regarding superficial stylistic revisions. Price has much more to say about the overall irony of both works- The irony in the Treatise is "uncertain and diffuse, sometimes abstract" (90), but then Price warns the reader that it is difficult to isolate irony in any given work of Hume's (46).

Indeed, Hume's irony is part of the tone of his writing, according to Price, and it ". . . makes its presence felt by the shape it gives to the piece of writing as a whole. The ironic tone is. . . greater than the sum of its total parts"

(7). In spite of this , which would seem to aim at a deep structural critique. Price concentrates on i solated and speci^fi^c instances of irony, including Hume's ironic treatment of rationalistic philosophers, philosophers and philosophy in general, and particular religious subjects.

Certainly, these are issues addressed in the Enquiry, but even a thorough discussion of them does not constitute the

"shape" of the work as a whole. Price is dealing with 1 rhetorical effect and content, rather than with the form.

Another rhetorical approach can be found in John

Richetti's masterly overview of the philosophical writing of

Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Richetti emphasizes the influence of social/cultural factors on the discourse of these philos­ ophers, explaining that their philosophical writing "... speaks to an audience it conjures up and thus tries to locate philosophical discourse in an actual social and moral world" (31). He accounts for the new version of the Treatise as follows:

The writing Cin the Enquiries3 has a poise and balance in its constructions and in its attitudes that blunt the polemical edge and simplify the ostentatiously intricate arguments of the Treatise. The revision is partly a shift in tone from an impertinent to a polite and insinuating persona, as the Enquiries seek to establish a reassuring and pointedly civilized manner in which writer and reader are united as sensible and discerning equals - . . - Hume's mature style communicates implicitly by its tendency to aphorism the crucial notion that truth is a sharp insight that acquires its edge in a social context. (43-4)

As Richetti sees it, Hume mimics the "mind's narration of " (215) and "... dramatizes thought and restores it to its status as largely another sort of speaking" (246). In other words, his discourse mimics his "movements" through philosophical problems; it dramatizes or enacts his thought process. Specific topics are cleverly analyzed in these terms, but the "enactments" as Richetti demonstrates them do not constitute the form of the entire work. Richetti does, however, discover an overall intention and structure in the

Treatise's discourse using the enactment theory; he has merely to shift his focus a bit. He asserts that Hume was more aware of the tenuousness of all theorizing than either

Locke or Berkeley and sought a language that would convey

"the complex of his philosophical stance" (217).

Richetti claims that the accusations that Hume has no true position or that his position constantly shifts can be refuted by Hume's attempt to maintain a neutral discourse, and that the Treatise "... explores ways of expressing detachment from thought and resistance to the finality of systemic utterance" (217-18)- Certainly Richetti has provided what amounts to a holistic structural analysis of the Treatise as well as a theory of Hume's intention in writing the work the way he did: the overall movement of his thought about the nature of theorizing on epistemology crystallizes in the final form of that work- This approach has much in common with the one I propose for this thesis, especially in my analysis of the Treatise- where the question of these "shifting positions"—or as Richetti would call it, the expression of Hume's philosophical neutrality—

is addressed- However, I will be more concerned with how philosophical method is grounded in tropology and elaborated

in discourse, and I do not claim that Hume intends to enact philosophical neutrality, except, perhaps, in certain sections of the first Enquiry-

When it comes to accounting for the transformation of the Treatise into the Enquirv, Richetti asserts that Hume simplified the material to resolve the problem he enacted in the Treatise's discourse:

As I read the Treatise- . .it records a growing sense of the near incompatibility between stylish clarity and abstract difficulty, between reassuring, shapely aphorism and the disturbing rigor of his philosophical revolution. ... Hume retreats in due course from obtrusive rigor and abstruse difficulty (without renouncing them) to the aphoristic persuasiveness of the Enquiries. (229)

The emphasis here is on Hume's difficulties in trying to discuss complex and abstruse ideas in a clear and elegant manner. This problem has manifested itself in the discourse,

28 and resulted in a new style for the Enquirv—one of "apho­ ristic persuasiveness." Richetti has also discovered Hume's intention as it emerged during his composition of the

Treatise. Further, Richetti locates another problem in style, in that the work has a "confusing mixture of the essayistic and analytic styles" whereas the Enquiries have

"an almost purely essayistic version of the analytic" (255)-

Again, Richetti 's approach approximates mine in that we both uncover intention which develops as a result of conflict in style or discourse- However, I eschew the rhetorical emphasis on persuasiveness, and locate the discursive conflict at a more fundamental conceptual level—in the and its elaboration in tropological schematics-

Richetti further declares that Hume recast the Treatise because he failed to carry out the experimental method, as he claimed he would do on the title page (244)- This is reminiscent of Norman Kemp Smith's analysis of what he called Hume's failure to reconcile the two theses of his philosophy: the Hutchesonian emphasis on instincts

(passions, emotions, sentiments, feeling) and the Newtonian emphasis on the mechanical and empirical as a source of - The conflict is most evident, according to Kemp

Smith, in Hume's failure to account for the ideas of time and space with his positivist system of impressions/ideas.

In fact, this failure leads Hume into a major contretemps, in which he is forced to assume the very stance he has been at pains to refute by his empiricism:

Since the only impressions which he CHumel has allowed are impressions lacking in any element of extension or duration, the spatial and temporal features so undeniably apprehended in the vulgar consciousness have to be treated as non-empirical, and therefore, by implication, as being a priori - For though Hume does not himself draw this conclu­ sion, his use of the phrase 'manner of appearance' amounts to a virtual admission of it- The funda­ mental feature in which space and time thus differ from any impression or sum of impressions is their continuity—a feature akin to what is distinctive of yet other instances of the a priori. . . . (548)

Kemp Smith points out another area in which Hume is brought to the same impasse: he also fails to follow his professed method in the treatment of - Belief, fiktrcording to Kemp Smith, can also take the form of an opinion, involving something assented to, and the very awareness of that assent qualifies belief for being cognitive in nature (552-3).

The problem of methodology as discussed by Kemp Smith and Richetti is not one which is necessarily confined to . Indeed, literary criticism has a role to play in the study of such texts, for what is method but a reflection of a thinker's way of conceptualizing the data in a field of , and what is discourse but an elaboration of that conceptualization? Certainly the methodology of an author and any conflicts therein would leave its traces in the discourse, traces which could be

30 uncovered by structural analysis—particularly by studying the discourse in terms of its tropological grounding. As will be seen in the analytical portions of this thesis, I believe that indications of a conflict in Hume's discourse are indeed evident; and that this dichotomy is located within the deep structure of the discourse, which, although

it is a reflection of a conflict on the philosophical plane,

is not expressive of the particular conflict Kemp Smith di scusses.

Recent trends in the analysis of discourse point the way to structural analysis of non-fiction texts, and many of them derive their thrust from Hayden White's "new histori- cism," which incorporates a tropological system as the basis of its . Such a critical approach is not only useful in analyzing Hume's writing as a whole, including its form and any conflicts constituted therein; but will help reveal the nature of Hume's revisions as well as his intention in recasting the Treati se, which previous critics—assuming he made changes in the interests of read­ ability and/or fame—have not been entirely able to discover. A good example of a recent and relevant critical approach is that of Leo Damrosch, who investigates the

"fictions of reality" in eighteenth century tetts.

Damrosch's approach is important, as it reminds us that no mode of discursive representation is truly transparent or

31 innocent of social/cultural/methodological "coloring" or bias. The mode of representation shapes and determines content; indeed, it constitutes what we call reality.

Damrosch makes a good case for the construction of reality

in texts as being based on the shared fictions of the group, or on social consensus- The Treatise failed, according to

Damrosch, because the work "misconceived the relationship between author and audience" (21)- So Hume turned to the essayistic mode, which everyone was willing to read, to represent his ideas- Damrosch explains that the essay was wel1-received because people will only be convinced by an

author whose experience is shared with them:

A major goal of the essayist is to stimulate or reenact this sharing of experience- works by enacting a process rather than by stating a conclusion, tracing the movement of the author's mind in order to encourage a corresponding movement in the reader's- (21)

As both Richetti and Damrosch have shown, Hume's process of thought is "enacted" in his text. But Damrosch goes a step further, pointing out that this enactment is a reflection of the reality the author has constructed within his own mind—a "fiction of reality" which becomes "truth" for that author. In his analysis of the Dialogues concerninq

Natural Religion, Damrosch demonstrates that each character dramatizes a way of responding to experience, and that through these characters, Hume dramatizes the ways in which different world views are considered and defended (130-1). Indeed, Hume manages to demonstrate that each character inhabits his own "reality," which is congruent with his own temperament or psychology (141).

Although Damrosch's emphasis is on social consensus, it is a relatively short conceptual leap from the construction of reality from social/cultural components to the organi­ zation of discourse on a tropological schematic. Tropes, too, are a way of organizing the material of reality, which

is another way of saying that they are used to mental fictions- Tropes are more fundamental, however, as they involve the formulation of materials on the most basic level of conceptualization- Indeed, tropes are the forms our thought takes: the shared fictions—whether social, cultural, or some other form of input—will be organized according to a tropological format, rather than themselves constituting the ultimate form of conceptual formulation-

That this is so is demonstrated by Jeffrey Smitten, who in effect extends Damrosch's conclusions about the characters in the Di aloques, showing that each one does indeed represent his own reality, as well as how each character's reality is grounded in a different trope.

A similar "fictions of reality" approach based on

White's tropology is Hans Kellner's treatment of history as a willful creation- Indeed, although Kellner's emphasis is on historical representation, he does provide his reader with an excellent overview of White's work on tropology and provides a model in which tropology is expertly applied as a method of critical analysis of non-fiction narratives.

Kellner is interested in the two ways of reading such a work: a "straight" reading is one which "sees through" the text, and which does not include awareness of it at all except as a means to help obtain knowledge of reality; a

"crooked" reading, on the other hand, focuses on the text itself and "... putCs3 into the foreground the con­ structed, rhetorical nature of our knowledge. ..." (7) as it is presented in the text. Studying the actual construc­ tion of the discourse will give the critic an insight into the fictional nature of the reality purportedly represented in the text- The tropes, of course, are the "deep structural principles" which actually generate the narrative in texts- and Kellner points out that these four figures (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony) are fundamental modes of thinking. His explanation for the relation of historical to the tropes by which those facts are elaborated in discourse is cogent: the "mental protocols" (the tropes) are infrastructure; the facts of history are superstructure

(10)- The same analogy could be applied in the case of

Damrosch's work on the social factors which influenced

Hume's work, especially the Dialoques-

34 The new emphasis on this "crooked" view of historical texts has generated controversy among historians, the most insignificant problem not being that concerning the "truth­ fulness" of historical narrative- However, for the purposes of this study, the kind of truth to be pursued is the explanation behind Hume's transformation of the Treatise, which is really the same thing as tracing his search for the best way to represent his ideas on human understanding as he wrote his way through the Treatise and on into the Enquirv-

We will also be concerned with Hume's evolving conception of the "truth" as embodied in his philosophical materials-

That we can do this—that it is possible to trace the move­ ment of an author's mind as he struggles to find the best mode of representation for the truth he is simultaneously discovering—is substantiated by Kellner's work, which is ultimately based on White's tropology-

The four tropes, Kellner explains, have become a system: the mind, in its attempt to grasp the materials of reality, tries first one way of organizing the data in a field of inguiry, then another, and another; starting with the most basic formulation—that of metaphor—and succeeding to ever—higher or ever—more—complex levels of organization to the final trope of irony- In fact, this tropological

"plot" of conceptualization has been discovered as under­ lying many different systems of knowledge—such as Piaget's

35 stages of cognitive development, Darwin's evolutionary principles, and Freud's unconscious mechanisms, all of which White has analyzed in his Tropics of Discourse. When this plot is elaborated in discourse, it follows what White calls the "archetypal plot of discursive formation"; as

Kellner puts it, this plot is "- - - indeed the system by which the mind comes to grasp the world conceptually in language" (232). This system of tropes constitutes "the narrativity of the mind" (Kellner 233) as it attempts to grasp the concepts and to order the data of reality, following the "plot" of the tropes successively-

In the Treatise, David Hume certainly demonstrates a struggle to come to terms with the data in his episte­ mological enquiry, and finally manages to resolve it in the

Enquiry: the tropological traces are evident- But before the conflict and its resolution are analyzed, a brief explanation of the four-trope system is in order. We will also review the work of other scholars who have studied

Hume's epistemological discourse from a tropological standpoint, as well as examine their pertinence to the questions proposed in this study.

Hayden White, Kenneth Burke, and Tropological Theory

The four tropes, for White, are the prelogical means of intellectually prefiguring the data in a field of inquiry

36 before representing that data in the form of discourse. The discourse reflects that prefiguration since it is an elabo­ ration of the trope, and it is thus a manifestation of the

intellectual process of coming to grips with the experience of reality. As White puts it,

... a discourse is itself a kind of model of the process of consciousness by which a given area of experience, originally apprehended as simply a field of phenomena demanding understanding, is assimilated by analogy to those areas of experience felt to be alreadv understood as to their essential natures. (5)

The process of rendering the unfamiliar into the

familiar, according to White, can only be tropological in nature. Metaphor, the most basic trope and the first in the

"plot" sequence, is characterized by this process.

Paralleling the tropological plot with Piaget's represen­ tation of the stages of a child's cognitive development.

White explains that the child turns from the metaphoric mode of apprehension, which involves a lack of distinction between "... itself and other objects or among objects except insofar as they relate to itself" (8) to the metonymic consciousness. The latter stage involves an awareness of , and the experience of reality is apprehended by "... a dispersion of its elements into the contiguities of the series. . - " (6)- In this stage of cognitive development, the child becomes aware of itself as an object among others, resulting in what Piaget calls a

37 "total decentration in relation to the original egocentric space" (White 8)- The important point here is that this stage of conceptualization is marked by the of the data into contiguities, and by the awareness of difference, in which "- - . the elements of a given domain

Care dispersed3 across a time series or a spatial field"

(White 6). Kenneth Burke relates the metonymic consciousness to modern , which is concerned with processes and operations, and which is based upon the cause/effect —all of which rely upon contiguity for their conceptual organization (505).

White explains that the third "turn"—to synecdochic construal—occurs when the consciousness proceeds

- . - to 'integrate' these elements by assigning them to different orders, classes, genera, species, and so on—which is to say, hypo- tactically to order them such that their status either as or merely as attributes of these essences can be established- (6)

White further points out that "such of integration" are characteristic of the thinking of philosophical idealists and of the organicists in natural science (6)-

Burke declares, as well, that "the 'noblest synecdoche,' the perfect paradigm or prototype for all lesser usages, is found in metaphysical doctrines proclaiming the of the 'microcosm' and 'macrocosm,' such as in Leibniz's monadology" (508), which is an idealist doctrine.

38 The fourth and last "turn," according to White, is to

the ironic mode of representation, in which the con­

sciousness reflects upon the previous synecdochic

construction of reality and considers

- . - the extent to which this taxonomic operation fails to take account of certain features of the elements thus classified Csynecdochally3 and, Cin3 an even more sophisticated move, Ctries3 to deter— mine the extent to which my own taxonomic system is as much a product of my own need to organize reality in this way rather than in some other as it is of the objective reality of the elements previously identified- (6)

In this mode of representation, the consciousness reflects

on its own thought processes, not only critically examining

its means of grasping the data, but investigating the extent

to which it is compelled to organize the data in this way,

thereby creating in intellectual representation the equi­

valent of science's "observer effect"; and finally

questioning whether a particular representation of the data

is indeed congruent with objective reality- The ironic consciousness, by extension, takes cognizance of the other representational modes and can, presumably, evaluate each as to the extent of its success in approximating reality.

However, Burke explains the ironic consciousness by saying that it incorporates all perspectives or "terms," and that therefore- none of the "sub—perspectives" can be considered either right or wrong:

Irony arises when one tries, by the interaction of the terms upon one another, to produce a

39 development which uses all the terms- Hence, from the standpoint of this total form (this "oerspec- tive of perspectives"), none of the participating "sub-persectives" can be treated as either precisely right or precisely wrong. They are all voices- or personalities, or positions, integrally affecting one another- When the is properly formed, they cire the number of characters needed to prodi the total development- (512) luce

I contend that the trope of irony, as dialectically

elaborated by Burke, is an enlightening critical tool for

studying David Hume's discourse on epistemology. I believe

that Hume, disappointed with his "manner" in the Treatise,

turned to this trope and experimented with more dialogic

forms of discourse to represent his ideas on epistemology.

The reality that he subsequently constructed—first in his

own consciousness, then in his discourse—changed dramat­

ically. This evolution of Hume's conception of truth can be

traced as he moves from the Treatise to the Enquirv. Other

scholars have found irony useful in discussing his later works—such as the Dialoques—but none to my knowledge have adapted this particularly powerful trope to the analysis of the Treatise and its relation to the Enquiry. Before turning to my analysis of these two works, however, a review of what other scholars have done with dialectical irony and dia­ logicity, and the pertinence of their studies to mine, is in order-

40 The Scholarship on Dialectical Irony and Dialogicity

When Kellner refers to the "divergent voices" (21) in

an historical text, he is consciously or unconsciously employing critical concepts developed by Mikhail Bakhtin in the early part of this century. Much recent work on dialogicity owes its origin to this Soviet critic's work on

the history and nature of the novel. Bakhtin's principles have been usefully applied to literary works of all kinds,

including -

Most recently, David B- Morris has studied the work of the eighteenth century poet Robert Burns using the

Bakhtinean approach, and he provides a concise and lucid account of that critic's of heteroglossia

(multiple and diverse "voices")- He explains that Bakhtin's purpose was to describe the "authorial, social, cultural, and historical differences" always present within discourse, and that these factors—other "voices" if you will — influence the actual shaping of that discourse:

It is Bakhtin's central insight that our speech and writing are inevitably crisscrossed and interpenetrated by what he calls "the discourse of the other-" The other, for Bakhtin, is a social —not a- - - psychological—category. Simply put, he means that our utterances, which include both the words we use and the ways in which we use them, are necessarily imprinted with the traces of previous usage, even as our speech and writing always employ or anticipate the utterances of other people. Such traces. . . help us shape our own utterance. For Bakhtin, we cannot speak or write about a topic without situating our words

41 in relation to other utterances which concern it - - - - language Cis3 a social force that inescap­ ably draws us into dialogue. (5-6)

Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia is useful, I find,

in analyzing the Treatise- Although this concept's

similarity to the multiple perspectives of a dialectic can

readily be seen, there is an important difference: dia­

logicity is not as fundamental an organizing principle as

irony, which, as one of the tropes, constitutes the struc­

ture of thought itself, although it is certainly conceivable

that dialogicity can develop into dialectical irony.

Furthermore, Bakhtinean dialogicity has advantages over

tropology for analyzing Hume's first work on epistemology,

especially when its social component is taken into account:

Hume's discourse is influenced by many other thinkers in the

philosophical "conversation" and we hear echoes of these

voices throughout the Treatise, in what Bakhtin would call

the "dialogizing background-" How Hume deals with these

interlocutors—both opponents and those with whom he agrees

—is pertinent to the questions this thesis investigates:

how and why did Hume recast the Treati se? The Bakhtinean

approach is also an indispensable tool in comparing the two

works on epistemology in general-

Several articles dealing with dialogicity in Hume's work have come to my attention, but all of these are studies of the Di alogues- It does not surprise me, however, that

42 Hume's later works are rich in dialogicity or , since he evolved this approach to discourse as he worked on the Enquiry- Indeed, I believe that Hume experimented with the dialectical approach because he was disappointed in the

"form" of the Treatise- This experimentation, in turn, played a significant role in the development of Hume's career as a man of letters-

Gary Shapiro's study of the Dialoques is one of the most pertinent studies of Hume's dialogicity in that he

emphasizes Hume's desire to avoid partiality and dogmatism

and connects this desire to Hume's conception of himself as

a man of letters—which apparently involved "a degree of -" Hume's aim in the Dialogues, according to Shapiro, is to achieve a balance between the

"plurality of voices" necessary to avoid partiality. Shapiro explains that these voices, which become more obvious in

Hume's work after the Treatise, are drawn from a variety of classical, historical and modern texts (129), an evaluation which reminds us of Bakhtin's work on the multiple influences on any discourse- That Hume apparently modeled his career as a man of letters upon 's example of the philosopher—rhetorician is congruent with Shapiro's analysis of Hume's dialogicity:

This account of Hume's use of the Ciceronian model is valuable because it helos to destrov the mvth o4^ British empiricism as a straightforward and direct philosophical discourse which need not relv on other texts, or on literary, rhetorical, and poetic tradition- (131)

I will argue that Hume's text—whatever may be true about others in the same school—perfectly demonstrates

Shapiro's point about British empiricism. The Treatise is anything but a transparent and consistent rendering of empiricism; other "texts"—or as Bakhtin would say, other

"voices"—do indeed influence the work's discourse. But Hume

is not consciously using these "voices" as models; indeed,

in most cases he is attempting to repudiate or suppress the other voices in the philosophical conversation. In spite of that, and almost against his will, his own discourse is marked by these other texts—texts which are not classical or historical or modern in particular, but are all classified under a greater intellectual rubric: that of philosophical method. How this is so will become clear in the analytical portions of this thesis.

Other scholars support the point made by Shapiro about

Hume's dialogicity- John Bricke, for example, feels it is a mistake to assume that one of the speakers in the Dialogues must be Hume, since all of the speakers have strengths and weaknesses. The important point for Bricke is Hume's literary objective, which is to create a work which imitates an actual philosophical conversation; and he does this by distancing himself from the varying viewpoints represented by the speakers and establishing a balance among them.

44 Jeffry Smitten, cited earlier, also denies that Philo is

Hume's only spokesman, especially since the trope underlying

Philo'5 position is irony—an intellectual stance which is based upon the ability to conceptualize a problem from other perspectives. Smitten explains that ignoring the literary form of the work amounts to a misreading in which Philo is identified with Hume, thus making Hume appear more aggressive and the work appear much more "combative" than it truly is- Hume's aim in this work. Smitten establishes, has a social dimension- David Simpson, too, discusses the

"voices" in the work, as well as the "engagements"—the aims, motives, understandings—of each protagonist in the dialogue- He also claims that Hume cannot be identified with any engagements or with any particular spokesman in the argument. At the end of his article, Simpson speculates on

Hume's intention, which he describes as ". . - the ratio­ nalist ambition to fashion discourse based in consensus and readily available - . . " (90)- This interesting statement, as will be seen, has implications for my argument regarding Hume's intentions-

Final ly, M- Pakaluk proposes an argument about the

Dialogues which has elements very similar to the ones I wish to project in this thesis- Pakaluk points out parallels between the positions of the characters in that work and the philosophical types Hume delineates within the Treatise and first Enquiry- Indeed, Pakaluk even pinpoints parallel passages in the Dialogues and the epistemological works which support his contention that Cleanthes represents the philosophical rationalist, Philo is identified with the mitigated skeptic, and Demea is associated with the "popular skeptic" or "the vulgar-" In fact, in discussing the philo­ sophical type represented by Philo, Pakaluk says, "Again, we find that a philosophical portrait that is only described by

Hume in one place Cthe Enquiry3 is embodied in a character in the Dialoques" (124)- After close study of the tropo­ logical grounding of Hume's discourse, this claim is no surprise to me; indeed, I maintain that evidence of Hume's dialectical inclination is present in the Treatise—albeit in rudimentary form—and most especially in the Enquirv-

Furthermore, I assert that the "voices" participating in

Hume's dialectic in both works are intimately bound not only with philosophical type as "described" by Hume within his text, but with philosophical method, and thus are embedded deeply within the discourse of the works and expressive of a fundamental intellectual operation-

It is interesting that Pakaluk remarks, toward the end of his article, that

Here- - . is ample evidence for the 'structuralist' who would investigate Hume's philosophy- The same 'structure' underlies several seeming disparate arguments. My claim is that this same structure is, in a sense, embodied in the characters of the Dialogues. (129)

46 In a sense, then, in this thesis I am accepting Pakaluk's challenge to investigate Hume's philosophy from a struc­ turalist perspective. My aim is to lay bare the underlying tropology of Hume's discourse on epistemology and discover what this can reveal about the nature and extent of the changes Hume makes in the Treatise, as well as his reasons for recasting the work as he did—two questions that I feel earlier critical attempts have either not fully explored or not fully delineated. At the same time, using the internal evidence, I intend to put to rest the claims that Hume rewrote that work merely in the interests of popular applause, readability, or literary fame. Lastly, I would

like to explore the implications of these conclusions for

Hume's career as a philosopher and as a man of letters.



The Tropical Turn from Synecdoche to Metonymy in the Treatise

Synecdoche and the Philosophers

The overall plan of the Treatise encompasses not only

the explication of Hume's epistemological doctrine but also

a critique of contemporary philosophical thought on the

subject of human understanding. Hume's opponents have one

thing in common: they are ail idealists and they all

subscribe to the rationalist method. Like any thinker, the

way that an idealist conceives of the data in a field of

inquiry—in this case, epistemology—is manifested in his

discourse: consciously or not, he selects a discursive

structure which is compatible with his intellectual formula­

tion of the topic. Therefore, the discourse of an idealist

will take on a style which is embedded in his own conception and whose deep structure is essentially different from that of a thinker such as Hume, who is an empiricist. (Hume calls himself a mitigated skeptic for reasons which will become clear later in this thesis.)

The idealists can trace their roots back to , who held that ultimate reality consists of Ideas, snd that material entities are merely a reflection of these "forms" or ideas. According to Dagobert Runes Di ctionary n£

4S Philosophy, to Platonists "the is a timeless or , a dynamic and creative archetype of .

The Ideas comprise a and an organic unity in the

Good, and ideals as patterns of existence and as objects of human desire." To neo-Platonists, "ideas are the archetypes of things considered as in the Cosmic Mind" (136). Again, according to Runes' Dictionarv. is

any system or doctrine whose fundamental principle is ideal Cpertaining to ideas3- Broadly, any theo­ retical or practical view emphasizing mind (, spirit, life) or what is characteristically of pre-eminent value or significance to it. Negatively, the alternative to - Materialism empha­ sizes the spatial, pictorial, corporeal, sensuous, non-valuational, factual, and mechanistic. Ideal­ ism stresses the supra- or non-spatial, non-pic­ torial, incorporeal, supra-sensuous, or valuationai, and teleological (136).

Rationalism is the method used by the idealists to arrive at knowledge. This method, which can be considered in the broadest sense a philosophy, is one in which "... the criterion of truth is not sensory, but intellectual and deductive, and introduces mathematical methods into philos­ ophy, as in Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza" (Runes 262).

The medieval Christian philosophers, including these of the

Scholastic school (to whom Hume frequently refers as "the schools"), all attempted to reconcile neo- with

Christianity, and therefore believed that all things derive their existence from an idea in the mind of : "Ideas c^re

49 archetypes eternally subsistent in the mind of God"

(Runes 136)-

To understand the rationalist epistemology and Hume's antithetical position, the hierarchical scheme of the neo-

Pl atonic conception of the universe must be brieflv outlined- According to Richard J- Thompson in A Historv of

Philosophical Systems, at the apex of this scheme is a sovereign Principle, the One or the Good, which is the cause or source of everything that exists and which is itself not limited by anything- From the One emanates Intellect or

Mind, which is Being:

From Mind proceeds the Soul of the Worlri, an eternal principle of human souls and of interior forms, which is an utterance of the eternal Mind as the Mind is the eternal knowledge of the One. This hierarchic development continues down to the of matter, through man, who is possessed of a divine principle, his soul, the prisoner of the body, and who reverses the emana- tive process and returns himself and all things, through knowledge, to the eternal principles, achieving his true nature only in the intelli­ gible order. (Thompson 187)

To the medieval philosophers, then, man is part of a hierarchy (the order of the World) which originated from

Mind, and within this Mind is the eternal knowledge of the

One. Thompson proceeds to explain that the essences c^r Forms are the only reality (1S7). Further, because Hjan apparently partakes of that Mind which contains the knowledge of the

One, his thought can be a source of knowledge- One of the f undamerits=y of neo—Pi atoni sm, to which the medieval philosophers subscribed, was that knowledge of "true being"

(Reality) could be obtained through the mind, or more explicitly, through correct thought. Those who subscribed to this Idealist belief, according to Armand Maurer, held that the mind can know "real being" by turning inward. We do not attain knowledge of real being exclusively through sense perception, but through our ideas. Truth, "real Being," or

Reality, then, could not only be revealed by thought, but a clear and distinct idea necessitated existence (in the sense of metaphysical being, not in the sense of the changeable world, which is in the process of ) <212-14).

The rationalist hierarchical scheme of the universe, as well as the careful assignment of relationships—between man and God, especially—is undoubtedly a synecdochic conception of the data of epistemology gathered by these thinkers. The Christian neo-Platonists, as well as all rationalists, transcend the metonymic formulation of the data in a field of inquiry. They are not only capable of merely recognizing the differences between Divinity ^nd man, which is no more than a simple perception of the single, not—necessarily—related data: but also these thinkers have attained an apprehension of the relati on between some of these entities: in this case, man's relation to God, and man's relation to creatures lower than himself. As Hayden

White points out, the idealists in philosophy

51 hypotactically order Cthe elements of data! such that their

status either as essences or merely as attributes of these

essences can be established" (6). Idealists view thought

itself as essence, with God as the supreme Thinker and

themselves as partaking of this essence, maintaining the

hierarchical scheme inherent in synecdoche.

The idealist conception of man and his relationship to

God incorporates another characteristic of the synecdochic

formulation of reality: the part to whole relationship.

For Kenneth Burke, the "noblest synecdoche," the one which

is a paradigm for all lesser forms of the trope,

is found in metaphysical doctrines proclaiming the identity of "microcosm" and "macrocosm." In such doctrines, where the individual is treated as a replica of the universe, and vice versa, we have the ideal synecdoche, since microcosm is related to macrocosm as part to whole, and either the whole can represent the part or the part can represent the whole. (For "represent" here we could substitute "be identified with.") One could thus look through the remotest astronomical distances to the "truth within," or could look within to learn the "truth in all the universe without." (508)

The idealists look within—to tfieir own minds, ideas, thought—to discover the truth of "all the universe without." Inasmuch as God is Truth, the clear and distinct ideas of man will apprehend that Truth.

Numerous examples of idealist/rationaiJst reasoning can be found in the Treati se, many of which cannot be accounted for as simple summarizations of idealist positions for the

52 purposes of refutation- Why they are present at all is one of the major questions this thesis purports to address.

Hume's Conceptual and Discursive Turn to Metonymy

Hume's avowed purpose in the Treatise is to apply the to the investigation of human under­ standing- His text is strewn with references to the

"experiments" he is "conducting" to discover how human arrive at knowledge. His experiments take the form of careful based on the five , rather than conforming to the "scientific method" as we know it todav-

However, Hume's method was part of the empirical/positivi st trend which flowered into modern science.

How, then, do scientists think? How is information or data organized in the human consciousness when it is considered in a scientific way? Science, as Kenneth Burke points out, is not concerned with substance, but with process, and is therefore a metonymic operation of the consciousness-

Science, concerned with processes and "processing," is not properly concerned with substance (that is, it is not concerned with "being," as "poetic realism" is)- 1-lence, it need not be concerned with motivation. All it need know is correlation. The limits of science, qua science, do not go beyond the statement that, when certain conditions are met, certain new conditions may be expected to follow- (505)

vJ^^ Burke further points out that disciplines which deal with substance—such as —cannot be considered sciences in the positivistic sense- He considers that these disciplines deal with human ("being"), so that any attempt to deal with them "... after the analogy of naturalistic correlations becomes necessarily the reduction of some higher or more complex realm of being to the terms of a lower or less complex realm of being" (508).

Although Burke is concerned with whether a science of human relations is possible when he discusses metonymy, the principle of reduction from a higher to a lower realm of being can be applied to other lines of inquirv, such as the organization of the data of epistemology. Empiricists such as Hume remove substances from the epistemological equation and instead view the basis of man's knowledge as his apprehension of the world through a series of operations which could be explained on an empirical basis. Empiricism, according to Rune's Dictionary, is a ". . . theory of knowledge which holds that ideas ar^- reductive to sensa­ tions, as in Hume (1711-1776). The doctrine that experience is the final criterion of reality in knowledge" (90). Thus, the Treati se abounds with examples of the metonymic approach to hutitan understanding. In fact, the first three parts of

Book I ("Of the Understanding") are devoted to laying out the foundation cf HUine's empiricist epi stemol oqv, iricludirig

54 refutation of those idealists he means to vanquish. At the

end of Part III and throughout Part IV, Hume expounds the

implications of his epistemology. Before delving into a

detailed analysis of Hume's metonymic discourse in the

Treatise, however, a brief explanation of the principles of

his epistemology—denuded of their complex details and

abstruse backgrounding—will be useful.

Hume's main thrust is to establish that all human

understanding is based on simple impressions (

based on the five senses), and reflections on these

impressions. An idea is nothing more than a faint copy of an

impression, and complex ideas consist of a combination of

simple ones. Ideas are associated together in the mind by

three operations: resemblance- contiguity (in time and

space), and cause/effect. Indeed, for Hume the mind is

"- - - nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions, united together by certain relations Copera- tions such as resemblance and contiguity3, and suppos'd. tho' falsely, to be endow'd with a perfect and identity" (207)- Thus, all that we come to know is not based on thinking, but on experience (a posteriori reason1 no).

Burke's explanation at the cause and effect paradigm cited earlier echoes Hume s explication of it. i^e cannot truly know tfie cause of anything, Hume claims: -u-f only

w'J observe the two objects appearing, one prior to the other and the two in constant conjunction; and thanks to certain processes or operations of the mind, we imagine the first object is the cause of the second. But Hume points out that our belief in causation goes beyond reasoning or the senses: and that we cannot account for the "secret power" that unites cause and effect. When these two objects are observed to be constantly conjoined, we assume, in a leap of

, that the first is the cause of the second. But since we have no impression, and thus no idea, of the power which conjoins them in the relation of cause and effect, we truly have no basis for the inferential leap. Because nature conceals from us those powers or principles, we can only rely on our experience with the constant conjunction of objects and on custom—a sort of trick of the mind—which leads us to believe that a prior object or is the cause of a subsequent object or event. Custom, then, is responsible for the "leap of inference."

However, this explanation of the cause and effect paradigm contains a problematical element. As can be seen, the concept of constant conjunction is clearly positivist in nature, for it is based on observatiosi (the senses; of tv«io contiguous elements. As White has pointed out, the metonymic consciousness organizes material by dispersing ". . . its elements into the contiguities of the series" (6>, and this

56 is exactly what happens in the observation of constant

conjunction Hume describes. However, the claim that these

contiguous elements are only connected by a habit of the

mind is not positivist, nor can it be accounted for within

the idealist system. Thus the mysterious gap is accounted

for by a non-positivist component: custom or habit.

Consequently, Hume is compelled to validate experience

in its two modes—constant conjunction and custom—as the

ultimate basis of human knowledge. This position indicates

that Hume has become skeptical of the positivist stance since

it failed to account for the mysterious link between the two

contiguous events we call cause and effect. This skepticism,

as far as his thought is concerned, has resulted in what

Hume designates as "mitigated scepticism" later (in the last

section) in the Enquiry. In fact, that Hume can see the

limits of his own position, that he can be skeptical about

its in any question, is a foreshadowing of the new

ironic modesty we will find in the Enquiry. However that may

be, Hume has arrived at this mitigated skepticism by

rigorously applying the positivist method: since the neces­

sary connection cannot be known by the five senses. Hume says, then it will never be known. All that we will ever know for certain is the constant conjunction of contiguous events.

«=:-7 Although Hume mitigates his positivist stance, his

epistemological doctrine is still metonymic in nature. By

insisting that experience in its two modes—sense perception

and custom—is the only basis of knowledge, Hume has made

the tropic turn from a higher or more complex order to a

lower or less complex order of intellectual formulation of

the data. In other words, Hume has reduced the basis of

knowledge from a priori to a posteriori: from thought and

to sense perception, contiguous elements, and an

inference based on habit. Hume makes a metonymic turn when

establishing his doctrine, which itself has a fnetonymic


Before continuing with an analysis of some of the

obviously metonymic sections of the Treatise's discourse, it

is worth noting that although Hume's epistemology is

metonymic in character, it is not until he writes the

Enquiry that he is able to reconcile the two disparate

elements of experience—the positivist (sense perception)

side of the equation and the non-positivist component of

custom or habit—to his own satisfaction- His success in harmonizing these two elements is due, I contend, to a new conception of his topic. The new intellectual formulation

involves, yet again, a tropic turn, which is manifested in the discourse and which is compatible with the overall transformation of the structure in the Enqui ry. For by the time Hume revises the Treatise- constructing an entirely new format for essentially the same content (as regards his own principles), he has set himself two intellectually sophisti­ cated goals, and the achievement of one of these goals results in a resolution of the above-mentioned conflict-

Metonymic Discourse in the Treatise

Since Hume devotes the initial sections to a reductive explication of his own epistemology, which has been previously summarized: as well as to a discussion and refutation of idealist principles, which will be analyzed in the next part of this chapter, only the Treatise's latter sections remain to be studied in terms of their metonymic di spositi on-

In Part III, Sections XII and XIII, for example, Hume discusses how the mind conceives of probability, which, the reader learns as he wades through the tortuous discourse, is part of the question of cause and effect. But as Hume explains, our conception of this latter relation depends on our perceptions of resemblances among and the constant conjunction of objects, which the imagination "connects."

Ultimately, it is the "liveliness and vivacity" of the original impression which accounts for our understanding of probability (142): "Thus it appears upon the whole." f^jme sums up, "that every kind of opinion or judgment, which amounts not to knowledge Cin other words, those based on

59 probabilityl, is deriv'd entirely from the force and vivacity of the perception. . . " (153).

Within the context of his own discourse, Hauis himself has applied a corollary of the above principle- He has been at pains to illustrate that any reasoning is more convincing

"- - - the more single and united it is to the eye, and the less exercise it gives to the imagination to collect all its parts, and run from them to the correlative idea, which

forms the conclusion-" In fact, a complex, multi-partite

idea is less convincing because it "- - . strikes not on us with such vivacity: and consequently has no such influence on the passion and imagination" (153)- Throughout these tv^o

sections on probability, Hume has emphasized one idea—that of the vivacity of an impression or idea—by explaining all the species of probability in terms of that idea and by

illustrating it with example after example, until the reader is surely convinced!

The same metonymic tempiating of data can be seen when

Hume takes up the nature of belief in Part IV, Section II.

Why do we believe in the continued existence of an object, he asks, when that object is not continuously in our view?

How do we know it is the same object when we see it agairr?

To explain this, Hume appeals to the principle of resem­ blance and performs an "experiment" by considering how tfie mind operates when it vi ews an ob iect. If we look at an

60 object for a time, we suppose that it does not change- If we see a succession of related objects, the principle of resem­ blance causes us to attribute sameness to them (202-3):

We find by experience there is such a constancy in almost all the impressions of the senses, that their interruption produces no alteration in them, and hinders them not from returning the same in appearance and in situation as at their first existence- (204).

Therefore, custom or imagination, in combination with these resembling appearances, makes us conclude that an object has an independent and continuing existence apart from our own perceptions. It is apparent that even the formation of something as elusive and metaphysical as belief is, finally, established on a reductive basis: the senses and mere habit of the mind.

Continuing in this vein, Hume critiques the rationalist view that the perceptions of objects and the objects them­ selves must be distinquished; a line of reasoning which also attempts to prove the independent and continuing existence of objects. "The only existences, of which we are certain, are perceptions. ..." Hume says in his refutation, and then explains that we arrive at the conception of cause and effect through past experience,

. . . by which we find, that two beings Cob ;ects3 are constantly conjoin'd together, and are alwavs present at once to the mind. But as no beings are ever present at once to the mind but perceptions; it follows that we may observe a conjunction or a relation of cause and effect between different

61 perceptions, but can never observe it between perceptions and objects. (212)

Thus, one of the great philosophical controversies of all time—whether objects have an independent and continuous identity—is resolved by a metonymic operation: we see similar, successive objects and our minds connect them together through the principle of resemblance, an operation which is itself based on our experience of objects: in other words, our knowledge is a posteriori. At the conclusion of the section, Hume "professes" confusion and claims that he is no longer able to put in his senses to the extent that he originally thought he would. But I think this is

Hume's ironic way of pointing out his skepticism about the positivist doctrine: for he savs that he is being

"ingenuous" and that he is "at present" of this

". - -contrary sentiment to repose no faith at all in my senses or rather imagination. . . "(217).

Hume's goal in Section IV is to prove that all objects to which we ascribe identity—including ourselves—are such as consist of a succession of related objects. He explains that the two relations—resemblance and cause/effect—give us our sense of identity, since they are responsible for the smooth progress of our thought along a train of connected ideas. In fact, Hume reduces that sense of identity to a mere contiguity of perceptions, which is itself a metonymic operation. "The mind," Hume declares, "is a kind of theatre. where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations. . . " (253).

Thus, mind and thought—which are elusive and non- physical—are explained in terms of physical operations, which are based upon sensory input. The massive metaphysical ediface of the human understanding (how we arrive at know­

ledge) is constructed from simple positivist building blocks, reinforced by the mortar of custom/habit.

Hume's Divided Consciousness

Although Hume is part of the British empiricist movement and the metonymic method he usually uses to organize his material in the Treati se is compatible with this movement, Hume's discourse is nevertheless frequently at odds with the empirical stance. For in spite of his reduction of philosophical problems into metonymic solutions, in spite of his vehement and occasionally sarcastic dismissal of idealist viewpoints, his discourse often reflects the synecdochic method of organizing data.

Does this suggest an underlying in Hume's conceptual grasp of the topic in question? Do we have here an empiricist trying to justify his stand through the use of rationalism? Even more provocative is the question of whether Hume is attempting to rationally destroy rationalism with the bludgeon of empiricism. Close study of fiuffie s

63 discourse, and the dichotomy within it, will yield answers to these questions.

Hume's Use of Synecdoche

Echoes of idealist thought can be heard in the axioms

Hume uses as underpinning to his empirical doctrine. An idealist principle to which Hume often appeals in the

Treatise is expressed by him as follows: ". . . We have observ'd, that whatever objects are different are distin­ guishable, and that whatever objects are distinguishable are separable by the thought and imagination" (IS). In this enthymeme, we not only hear the echoes of the idealist principle of correct thinking, but we are also made aware of categories of existence and their relations with each other: distinct objects in the external world and the idea of those objects in the mind are related in that they are both distinguishable if they are distinct. Ideas such as this, whenever Hume uses them in the Treatise, naturally take a synecdochic form.

For example, when Hume writes of "clear and distinct" ideas, as he does in the example below, we are forcibly reminded of the rationalists like Descartes:

. . .'tis a principle generally receiv'd in phil­ osophy, that every thing in nature is individual, and that 'tis utterly absurd to suppose a triangle really existent, which has no precise proportion of sides and angles. If this therefore be absurd in fact and reaJ i ty, it must also be absurd ;n

64 Ldea; since nothing of which we can form a clear and distinct idea is absurd and impossible. (20-1)

Hume appeals to this idealist principle once again when he discusses the ideas of time and space. Anything of which we can form a distinct conception, he explains, intrinsically includes the possibility of existence. A gold mountain, for example, may certainly exist; but since it is impossible to conceive of a mountain without a valley, it cannot exist (36). Hume repeatedly utilizes idealist principles when discussing indivisibility of the soul, infinite divisibility of mathematical points, and other topics throughout the Treatise. By using these principles as building blocks for his epistemology, Hume is continually chipping away at the stability of his discourse, and we, as readers, feel the slippage between the reductive approach of the empiricist and the idealist conceptualization under­ lying it.

But the privileging of synecdochic formulation is even more pervasive in the Treatise than use of idealist principles- Whole sections of the work are cast in the trope of the idealists- One of the most elaborate examples is

Hume's discussion of probability in Part III of the

Treati se, in which the types of probability (the "elements")

Are classified according to the extent they partake of 4 "essence" (belief). Hume first categorizes the types of human reasoning, isolating three kinds: Icnowledge, proofs. and probability (reasoning from conjecture). The latter can be divided into two types, which are contrary to each other: that which is founded on chance, and that which is based on causes- The two are contraries, Hume explains, because

"- . - chance is nothing real in itself, and, properly speaking, is merely the negation of cause." Cause, on the other hand, "... forces us to survey such certain objects, in such certain relations" (125).

When Hume elaborates, he goes beyond a mere descrip­ tion of contiguous elements by showing the relationship between them: it is impossible to reason from mere probability, he explains, so we tend to suppose that there are ". - - a mixture of causes among the chances, and a conjunction of necessity in some particulars, with a total indifference in others-" Hume illustrates the point with one of a pair of dice, which has four sides marked with a certain number, and the other two with a different number.

Although pure chance rules which side of the die will turn up, we still use in assuming that one of the four sides with the same number has a greater probability of turning up. Hence, we consider that "» . . there must always be a mixture of causes among the chances, in order Cfor probability! to be the foundation of any reasoning" (126).

66 Hume then turns to a discussion of the probability of causes, which is more directly applicable to the investiga­ tion of the nature of human understanding. In this section

(XII), he elucidates the relationship between probability and , another type of human reasoning, by explaining that reasoning from probability originates in our notions of cause and effect, viz the more freguently two elements are combined, the more probable their causal relationship is considered to be. In the process of reasoning from prob­ ability, our judgment must pass

. . . thro' several inferior degrees, and in all of them is only to be esteem'd a presumption or probability. The gradation, therefore, from prob­ abilities to proofs is in many cases insensible; and the difference betwixt these kinds of evi­ dence is more easily perceiv'd in the remote degrees than in the near and contiguous. (130-1)

Hume further says that reasoning from probability must take place before any proofs can be constructed, but that eventually very few "experiments" are needed in a new case of observation to convince us that one object will follow another. When we use this kind of "shorthand" reasoning, we naturally run into a second type of probability, which results when a contradiction in our takes place. Hume explains the relation between these two types of probability: if the two elements are always conjoined, the impression in the imagination acquires a greater degr^^e of force or vivacity than if the conjunction between them i^

67 interrupted. Again, Hume has constructed a classification

(two-part, this time) and demonstrated that in our minds,

the two types of probability partake of "truth" in varying


A third "species" of probability is derived from

analogy, and Hume distinguishes it from the other two types:

In those probabilities of chance and causes Cthe first two typesl 'tis the constancy of the union, which is diminish'd; and in the probability deriv'd from analogy, 'tis the resemblance only, which is affected. (142)

Again, there is a continuum of force; the more resemblance,

the more probable will be judged the chances that the two

entities under consideration are causally related.

Although Hume has made a division between the types of probability, the three are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, their interaction is required before any reasoning at all can take place:

If you weaken either the union Cconstant conjunc­ tion 3 or the resemblance, you weaken the principle of transition, and of consequence that belief, which arises from it. . . . Without some deqree of resemblance, as wel1 as uni on, 'tis i mpossi ble there can be any reasoning. . . . (142, emphasis mine)

Following this exhaustive overview of probability, Hume expands his investigation in Section XIII to the classifi­ cation of the types of "unphiIosophical probability." The first category depends upon the force or vivacity of the or i q i n a 1 impression- The mere passage of t?. me can hrir.a

68 about sufficient diminution of that impression to cause a

corresponding diminution of belief. In the second type, a just-experienced event has a superior effect on our judgment

and passions than one more distant in our experience, due to

the superior vivacity the event can confer on the related

idea. The third type of probability involves the relation­

ship, again, between proofs and probability: proof "often

degenerates insensibly" into probability, Hume explains, if

a long chain of connected arguments is required in the

proof; whereas if an inference is drawn directly from an

object, then the resulting conviction is much more "lively."

This is because the vivacity of the idea ". - . decays in

proportion to the distance Cfrom the original object3, and

must lose somewhat in each transition Cfrom one argument to

another in the chain!" (144).

Hume explains the relationship between this third type

of unphilosophi cal probability to the second type of

philosophical probability—that derived from contrary

experiments. The distance of an inference from its original

object sometimes

. , . has a greater influence than even contrary experiments wou d have; and a man may receive a more lively conviction from probable reasoning, which is close and immediate, than from a long chain of consequences, tho' just and conclusive in each part. Nay 'tis seldom such reasonings produce any conviction; and one must have a v/ery strong and firm imagination to preserve the evi­ dence to the end, where it passes thro' so nic-ny stagss. (144)

69 In other words, the immediacy of an inference has a more forceful effect on our judgment concerning causation than a train of strictly correct ; and the lack of that immediacy has an even more negative effect on our judgment than the shock of discovering that our shorthand reasoning has been invalidated by "contrary experiments,"

The fourth species of unphilosophical probability is shown by Hume to be founded—like the third type of philo­ sophical probability—upon the principle of analogy. This type stems from the formation of "general rules," which are the basis of prejudice. The more similar the objects, the more forceful the probability, until we finally form a custom of viewing the objects in this way; hence, the

"general rules" (146-7).

This brief outline of Hume's classification of proba­ bilities throws into relief the system's most significant element: the vivacity/force of an impression/idea—whether it is derived from constant conjunction (causation), resemblance, or analogy—is the foundation in all these types of probability, philosophical or unphilosophical. Hume himself points this out:

Thus it appears upon the whole, that every kifid of opinion or judgment, which amounts not to knowledge Ci-e- which is based on orobabi1itvl, is deriv'd entirely from the force and vivacity of the percep­ tion, and that these qualities constitute in the mind, what we call the belief of the existence of any cbject. (153) Hume also arranges the types in a hierarchy, according to the degree to which they partake of the quality of vivacity or force; in other words, according to how force­ fully they generate belief. The "belief hierarchy" can be outlined as follows, in order of descending force:

1. and demonstration ("experiment")

2. causation and resemblance

3. Other degrees of evidence

Hume's treatment of probability is reflective of the type of reasoning evident in the stage of preadolescent logic, as delineated by Piaget. This stage, according to

Hayden White, corresponds to the synecdochic method of structuring data. This type of logic is not based on verbal statements such as syllogisms, but on objects which

. . . can be collected all together or in classi­ fications: . . . Ctherel v^i 11 be a logic of relations because objects can be materially counted by manipulating them. This will thus be a logic of classifications, relations, and numbers, and not yet a logic of . ... It is a logic in the sense that the operations are coor­ dinated, grouped in whole systems which have their in terms of totalities. And we must verv strongly insist on the necessity of these whole structures for the development of thought. (6)

That Hume sees his of probabilities as a whol e of interrelated parts is obvious in his remark:

What principally gives authority to this system is, beside the undoubted arguments, upon which each part is founded, the agreement of these partii, and the necessity of one to explain the other. (154. italics mine)

71 Hume further explains how the major forms of probability partake of the essential quality of belief, reminding us of White's requirement for synecdoche: that the elements be ordered "... such that their status either as essences or merely as attributes of these essences can be established" (6). Hume accounts for the kind of beliefs which are derived from memory, judgment, constant conjunc­ tion, interrupted conjunction, and from possibility (154).

Another example of an extended synecdoche in the

Treatise, Book I, can be found in Part IV, where Hume

addresses the question of the continued and independent existence of objects, a corollary of which is the subject of the immateriality of the soul. Hume deals with four different positions on this subject: the rationalists', the materialists', Spinoza's and his own; although the view­ points of the rationalists and materialists must often be deduced from what Hume says in refutation of them.

The rationalists claim that our perceptions—and thus by extension, our thoughts, minds, or souls—inhere in a non-material "simple and indivisible substance." Although

Hume refutes their idea of substance by appealing to the empirical principles iie has heretofore established, he also uses rationalist principles to make his pcir>t: whatever can be clearly conceived may indeed e>; i st; and everything which iS distinguishable is separable. Then, reason! r.g from these two idealist principles, Hume draws the empiricist conclusion that perceptions are therefore substances, an outcome which is anathema to rationalists.

Hume further remarks that since we are unable to arrive at a satisfactory idea of "substance" or "inhesion," that is reason enough to abandon the inquiry. Yet, having arrived at the ultimate reductionist position, Hume chooses to continue with the irresolvable "dispute," and to do so, he must make the discursive turn to synecdoche.

At this point Hume rehearses the position of the materialists, who claim that thought is conjoined with extension (material substance). He then demonstrates that the weakness in this position has the same basis as that in the rationalist stance- Both turn on a hidden paradox: how can an immateri al, indivisible subject (our perceptions, thoughts, soul) be associated with an extended substance, either material or immaterial? (240)

Having shown the relationship between these two positions, Hume raises Spinoza's explanation for the problem of the immateriality of the soul- For Spinoza, the world consists of only one simple and indivisible substance. What we perceive and what we feel by reflection are rrierel y modifications of tliat one indivisible substance. Hume links

Spinoza's view to that of the rationalists by sayii,q that

"- - . this hideous hypothesis is almost the same with that of

7:^ the immateriality of the soul, which has become so popular"

(241), and he proceeds to explain the similarity- Then Hume

exposes the weaknesses in Spinoza's hypothesis and shows at

the same time how the theological arguments for the imma­

teriality of the soul contain exactly the same faults as

Spinoza's argument- The result is that Hume has connected

the rationalist/theological precepts even more closely to

those of their enemy, Spinoza- As Hume concludes, "- . - the

Ctheological doctrine of 3 the immateriality, simplicity, and

indivisibility of a thinking substance is a true ,

and will serve to justify all those sentiments, for which

Spinoza is so universally infamous" (240) - The result: the

theologians are atheists like their enemy, Spinoza.


That Hume classified the positions concerning the

topics of probability and the immateriality of the soul,

then showed the relationship between them, is evidence that

the reductive empiricist can indeed survey the data in a

field of inquiry and intellectually conceive of it in a

synecdochic fashion- In addition, in the Treatise's latter

section, evidence can be found that Hume can transcend even that classifying construction and make the tropic turn into the dialectical irony that is so tightly bound up with his discourse in the Enquiry- However, before analyzing this signal development, we must first investigate its roots m

74 the earlier sections of the Treatise- We will then be in a position to evaluate the relative contribution of the tropes and come to some conclusions about Hume's style in Book I of the Treatise-

Incipients of Dialectical Irony in the Treatise

There are two ways to construct a dialectical exchange.

The first is to present the various perspectives as speaking in their own peculiar voices, as in Bakhtin's heteroglossia-

The other form of dialectics is that elaborated by Burke and

White, in which the dialectics are structural, with fully- elaborated perspectives controlling the textual discourse rather than being expressed in actual dialogue form. But the lack of quotation marks and other appurtenances such as dialogue tags do not make the structural "dialogue" any less real or valuable; indeed, this type of dialectics is broad enough in scope to be termed a dialogue of discourses- These two dialectical types help define in great part the difference between Hume's two epistemological works, with the incipient heteroglossaic form emphasized in the

Treati se-

Readers of the Treatise do not doubt that Hume is arguing with other philosophers. In some cases, the readers only sense the context of his argument—in other words, thev are aware of the historical/cultural "presences" influencing

/b the discourse—the dialogic background, as Bakhtin would term it. In other cases, the reader hears the opponents' arguments, as it were, by implication. John Richetti notes the same discursive tactic—he calls it "near dialogue" and

"implicit dialogue"—in Berkeley's discourse, but only hints that Hume incorporates the same dialogicity in his style

(37-3). However, I will argue that this dialectical tendency is indeed common in Hume's writing, either in the implicit form already alluded to: or in an explicit manner in which the opponents actually speak in their own voices or are heard through Hume's exposition and diction-

However, since the opponent contributions are scattered in an inconsistent and isolated manner throughout the

Treatise—except in a single case in one limited section—it is not possible for dialogicity to control the structure of the work's discourse as it does in the Enguirv. Furthermore, the dialogue between Hume and his opponents generally takes an agonistic tone. Hume tends to set up his opponent for the express purpose of "felling" his argument, and apparently has no intention of resolving or harmonizing disparate positions—which is the opposite approach to that of the

Enqui ry-

Yet, there are signs in the Treatise that Hume is able to distance himself from his own perspective, which is necessary to developing a sense of true dialectical iror^y:

76 the ability to be cognizant of the limits of the alternate

ways of conceiving a subject. It is this new ability on the

part of Hume which characterizes the Enguirv's discourse and

makes it such a different literary work from the Treatise.

But a close study of the Treatise will reveal the trans­

formed intellectual formulation of epistemology which makes

the Enquiry's new style of discourse possible; in other

words, the signs of David Hume's changing literary con­

sciousness can be discerned in its nascent form in Book I

°^ the Treatise—in the incipient dialectics as well as in

the limited distancing.

In the pages that follow, the evolving forms of

dialogicity and dialectics in Hume's discourse will be

examined, in the order of increasing definition. This study

will not only assist in charting the progress of the discourse

from its origin to its culmination, but will also provide

insight into the evolution of Hume's career as a literary


Implied Dialogue

Hume often allows a form of indirect protest to his

reader, who is obviously well-educated, acquainted with the

issues at hand, and who easily could be one of his philo­ sophical opponents. Since Hume frames the objection for the protesting party, it is obvious that he has already carried out an internal dialogue of his own with the implied

77 audience, whose positions are familiar to him. Such an objecting "voice" can be heard, for example, when Hume treats of the resemblance between simple impressions and


But if any one should deny this universal resemblance, I know no way of convincing him, but by desiring him to shew a simple impression, that has not a correspondent idea, or a simple idea, that has not a correspondent impression- If he does not answer this challenge, as 'tis certain he cannot, we may from his silence and our own observation establish our conclusion- (4)

Such a piece of discourse can be construed as a highly

condensed conversation, which, if put into dialogue form,

would result in something like this;

Implied interlocutor; David Hume, I don't think you can

make universal claims for your principle of corresponding

ideas and impressions.

Hume: If you are going to make such a claim, you must needs

demonstrate it. Can you conceive of a simple idea without a corresponding impression, etc-?

Implied interlocutor (cogitating): Hmm- Umm- . - .

Hume (agonistically): I thought so-

Although the passage implies a dialogue, it only gives

Hume's opponent a "voice" which only reacts to what Hume has declared- Of course, it is Hume who truncates this opponent's response, possibly in what he considers the interests of economy: he is certain his principle is universal, so there is no need to extend the interchange.

78 However, the implied interlocutor in this sham dialogue is not given the full status of a thinking human being with his own stand or evidence to support it- Thus, this piece of discourse, like all other cases of implied dialogue in the

Treatise, cannot be considered true dialogue in any sense of the word-

In the example above, only a sketchy idea of the implied interlocutor's stance can be gleaned, especially if the reader is not well acquainted with eighteenth century philosophical currents. On occasion, however, Hume does provide an explication of the opponent's position in order to illustrate the historical progress of the argument. When

Hume discusses the mental conception of general and parti­ cular ideas, for example, he points out the "doubt and controversy" surrounding this issue- After tracing the history of the concept's development, and thus providing the dialogizing background, Hume refers to his opponents in an oblique way (indicated by my italics): "Ijt may therefore be thought, that here is a plain dilemma, that decides concerning the nature of those abstract ideas, which afforded so much speculation to philosophers" (17-18). Hume then proceeds to provide a brief outline of his opponents' thought on the subject of abstract ideas in the mind:

The abstract idea of a man represents men of all sizes and all qualities; which 'tis concluded it cannot do, but either by representing at once all possible sizes and all possible qualities, or by

79 representing no particular one at all. Now it having been esteemed absurd to defend the former , as implying an infinite capacity in the mind, i^ has been commonly infer'd in favour of the latter; and our abstract ideas have been suppos'd to present no particular degree either of quantity or quality. But that this inference is erroneous, I shall endeavor to make appear - - - - (18, italics mine)

Again, in the succeeding passages, Hume neglects to give his opponents a chance to fully reply. Furthermore, although he has allowed an explication of the opponent's position within his text, it is presented in Hume's own voice; the diction, the syntax are virtually indistin­ guishable from the stretches of text that belong exclusively and unmistakably to Hume's own particular discourse. So in spite of the fact that another viewpoint has been heard, and the dialogizing background has been established, the passage does not qualify as true heteroglossia per Bakhtin. To qualify, the voices within a text must not only reflect different points of view (and all that encompasses: social, cultural, and historical influences as well), but the images of these languages must also reflect separate idiolects. In other words, their speech must truly be plural speech, not disguised monoglossia. As Morris points out in his study of

Burns' poetry, "not every dialogue is truly dialogical. That is, dialogue as a form sometimes disguises or conceals profoundly nondialogical speech. . . . Parody, irony.

80 mimicry, ventriloquism; all permit a single speaker to create the illusion of plural speech" (7).

In the numerous cases of implied dialogue found throughout the Treatise, Hume's exclusion of other voices is reminiscent of the type of heteroglossia Bakhtin discovers in the "sophistic line" ("first line" of novels, which corresponds to "poetic stylization"). This type of novel, as opposed to the second line or "novelistic stylization," com­ prehends a single language style. Heteroglossia, although it remains outside the novel, does have an effect as " - - . a dialogizing background in which the language and the world of the novel is polemically and forensically implicated"

(Bakhtin 375). It is easy to see that within the world of thought established in the Treatise, a greater world of philosophical discourse is implicated; the rationalists and the skeptics are omnipresent, informing the entire work.

Formulaically Designated Dialogue

In the next stage of dialogicity, Hume provides for the opponents' voices to actually be heard, but the discourse incorporating these voices still does not gualify as true heteroglossia. In these instances, the opponent's discourse is designated by a formulaic tag; sometimes his actual diction is used, but more often the perspective is presented through Hume's exposition- For example, in Part II, Section

III, where Hume discusses the topic of infinite

81 infinite divisibility, he incorporates opponent diction. He points out that the idea of extension, which is composed of minute parts, itself becomes infinite. Then he lets his opponents reply;

It has been objected to me, that infinite divisibility supposes only an infinite number of proportional not of aliouot parts, and that an infinite number of proportional parts does not form an infinite extension. But this distinction is entirely frivolous. Whether these parts be c^ll'cf aliguot or proportional , they cannot be inferior to those minute parts we conceive- . . , (30)

We as readers are quite certain that the voice of the other has been heard because Hume prefaces the remark with a

formulaic tag; "It has been objected to me." Furthermore, he puts the opponents' actual terms in italics to set them

apart from his own discourse. However, Hume's exchange with the opponent forms a closed dialogical couplet, with the

author himself agonistically having the last word and thus eliminating any real chance of dialectics. Hume also elects to exclude this particular piece of discourse from the text proper (by putting it in a footnote) and it cannot then qualify as true heteroglossia. Although in this case it is certainly true that the "voices of others" provide a background or context ". . . outside of which Cthe author's! artistic prose nuances cannot be perceived, and without which they 'do not sound'" (Bakhtin 278), for Bakhtin true heteroglossia means that the contending voices are actually

s: in the text, participating in the struggle among different points of view and speaking with their own socio-cultural languages. Although it was common practice in the eighteenth century not to mention one's opponents by name in a published text, it is not the lack of a name that eliminates the possibility of heteroglossia; it the exclusion of the opponent's voice (perspective) from the text proper that does so-

However, Hume changes his tactics as the text continues and does allow the opposing perspectives to "rise" from their inferior location in the footnotes to the full status of a voice—whether in Hume's diction or in the opponent's.

In Part III, for example, we find Hume allowing rather lengthy explications of his opponents' perspectives- Hume declares that he must first establish that nothing can come into existence without a productive principle (which is itself impossible to demonstrate) before it is possible to demonstrate the necessity of a cause for every new exis­ tence- He appeals to the rationalistic principle that all distinct ideas are separable, and thus it is just as easy to conceive of a cause and an effect as separated as it is to conceive of them as connected in some way- Conclusion:

"- . - every demonstration, which has been produc'd for the necessity of a cause is fallacious and sophistical." Hume then turns the carefully reasoned principle of an opponent

83 (footnoted as "Mr- Hobbes") into ammunition against him. Not only does Hume use a prefatory formulaic tag ("say some philosophers") to indicated a speaker, but it is possible that he uses some of his opponent's terminology, thus approaching very near to true heteroglossia (italics indicate suspected borrowings):

All the points of time and place, say some philosophers, in which we can suppose any object to begin to exist, are in themselves equal: and unless there be some cause, which is peculiar to one time and one place, and which by that means determines and fixes the existence, it must remain in eternal suspence Csic3; and the object can never begin to be, for want of something to fix its existence- (30)

Hume seldom allows such a lengthy explication from an opponent within the text proper- Such a change in tactics may be an indication of the importance, in Hume's mind, of the argument itself or of his opponent, Hobbes the philos­ opher- Yet, although Hobbes gets full credit for his utterance, the "dialogue" takes the form of a closed couplet, with Hume having the last word and thus leaving no room for further exchange- For his response to Hobbes'

"statement" is constructed to halt further discussion: "But

I ask; Is there any more difficulty in supposing the time and place to be fix'd without a cause, than to suppose the existence to be determin'd in that manner?"

Hume elaborates on his reply, then introduces "the second argument" advanced by "Dr- Clarke and others":

34 "Everything, 'tis said, must have a cause; for if anything wanted a cause, i^ wou'd produce itself; that is, exist before it existed; which is impossible" (30)- Although the argument of Dr. Clarke et al- is not accorded the same amount of space as that of Mr, Hobbes, it is plain that the position is given in full. It is also certain that Hume is giving this piece of discourse the status of a "voice," for he introduces it with a dialogue tag, Hume disposes of this objection by isolating a fallacy—that of assuming a premise which is part of the argument—in his opponent's reasoning and demonstrating how his own position remains unaffected.

In this case too, the agonistic "exchange" is bipartite, but there the resemblance ends, for no foreign diction can be detected in the piece of discourse attributed to the opponent- It all sounds like Hume-

The third objection (footnoted as belonging to Mr.

Locke), as well as the succeeding objection (tagged with

"they are still more frivolous, who say. - . . "), also takes the form of a closed dialogical couplet in which the opponents are merely allowed their say and then are silenced by a Humean epigrammatic refutation. It is as if Hume is sitting in a chair, surrounded by and fielding the remarks of Hobbes, Clarke et al., Locke, and the "frivolous" others.

However, he apparently has set rules which allow each interlocutor only one chance to state his case and which

s; reserves to himself the last word on the subject. This approach, of course, destroys any real chance of a true heteroglossaic dialogue or dialectics. Instead, the reader is confronted with an agonistic exchange.

Heteroglossia and Nascent Dialectics

Hume approaches ever nearer to true dialogicity, and thus to structural dialectics, in Part II, Section IV of the

Treatise, which is entitled—appropriately enough—"Objec­ tions answer'd." Hume's approach is to designate each objection by a number and then to give rather lengthy of his opponents' stance, which he proceeds to answer- Some of the arguments take the form of a closed dialogical couplet, while others involve a further step cr vJ towards dialectics: a multipartite exchange- In spite of this advance, however, the opponent's voice is still heard through Hume's exposition—with the exception of a few phrases- Furthermore, Hume still uses his old agonistic tone.

A better example of a multipartite exchange is in Part

II, where Hume also makes another important advance toward dialectics: he shows his ability to stand outside of his argument- In this Part, which treats of time and space, Hume takes the position that mathematical points must be indivisible- To bolster his stand, Hume wishes to show that not even mathematical demonstrations can support the

36 opposing concept of infinite indivisibility. Then,

paradoxically, he declares that both those who support his

position and their opponents will be unable to answer his

question: "I first ask mathematicians, what they mean when

they say one line or surface is equal to, or greater, or

less than another?" (45) Then, in a sort of ventriloquism,

Hume gives voice to the mathematicians who support

indivisibility (his position):

There are few or no mathematicians, who defend the hypothesis of indivisible points: and yet these have the readiest and justest answer to the present equation. They need only reply, that lines or surfaces are equal, when the numbers of points in each are equal. . . . (45)

Hume not only "tells" this interlocutor what to sav,

but actually speaks through him. However, the ventriloquist

plays a trick on his dummy, by pointing out that the very

argument he had taught him to say "is entirely useless" when

it comes to determining equality or inequality in measure­

ment, for we cannot distinquish between these presumed

indivisible points- Here we have an example of Hume

distancing himself sufficiently from his own argument—by

putting it into the mouth of another—to spy out its

limitations and faults- This isolated expository incident

also foreshadows the ventriloquism Hume uses in Section XI

of the Enqui ry-

As the section continues, Hume takes on several opponents, alternately expounding each position and refuting

37 it, and we hear a multipartite exchange which is similar to

the "give and take" of a conversation. As a result of the

near approach to dialectics, „e have at least a rudimentary

idea of the character of Hume's interlocutors. However, once

again the exchange is an isolated one, surrounded by vast

tracts of Hume's mono-voiced exposition, and has the same

generally agonistic character of the Treatise-

Hume's question to the mathematicians has still not

been answered, so he proposes "Dr. Baryow's" viewpoint-

However, this argument, based on congruity, is invalidated

since we cannot have a distinct idea of the parts of those

figures which are being compared- Hume then explains at

great length, on the basis of the three proportions

(greater, less, equal), how we do manage to judge of the

nature of lines and planes- He extends the mental principle

of comparative self-correction to the distinction of a

straight line from a curved line, and then gives voice once

again to the mathematicians, who "pretend" (Hume's word) to

define straight line- After showing that their definition is

really a , he lets the mathematicians state their

definition of a plane surface, which he then proves inade-

guate through two different arguments- Hume invokes the dialogizing background (probably with Locke in mind) by mentioning the vain recourse to a deity who forms perfect

38 geometrical figuroc: ac -. ^A. _, , _ rigures as a standard. Then he flings down a challenge which leads into a dialogue:

TZnfrT^^ ^""^^^ '^"^^ ^^^ "° ^°°=^ ^-d uncertain, L^M^ - K" r^ ^"^ mathematician what infallible insurance he has, not only of the more intricate and obscure propositions of his science, but of the most vulgar and obvious principles? (51)

After asking questions about these obvious principles,

such as whether two straight lines can have a common

segment, Hume composes a reply for one of the mathema­ ticians: " Shou'd he tell me, that these opinions are obviously absurd, and repugnant to our clear ideas; I wou'd

answer- . . " (51, italics mine) that a common segment could indeed be considered impossible under certain conditions, but not others- Hume names these conditions, then turns suddenly to direct address:

For, I beseech you, by what rule or standard do you judge, when you assert, that the line, in which I have suppos'd them to concur, cannot make the same right line, with those two, that form so small an angle betwixt them? (51, italics mine)

Although such a style of direct address is consistent with the style of philosophical writing in the eighteenth century, the sudden switch from third to second person sharply demarcates these words to the opponent, giving them a much more strident and confrontational tone- Hume seems to leap from his chair, grasp the mathematician's collars, and cry, "I beseech you! How can you possibly answer such a question?" The overall effect is not only to heighten the

39 personal style, but to lend a social quality to the passage.

The reader begins to form an idea of two interlocutors: the

rather passionate philosopher and the comparatively detached

mathematician. How this social context leads to hetero­

glossia remains to be seen, however.

The passage continues, with Hume addressing the

mathematician; "Do you therefore mean, that it takes not

the points in the same order and by the same rule, as is

peculiar and essential to a right line? If so, I must inform

you. . . (52). The mathematician must suffer Hume's second-

of his possible position. It is indeed likely that

he would retort with such an idea, but Hume has filtered the

idea through his own consciousness and elaborated it in his

own words—as far as we can tell—and the mathematician has

remained mute in his own chair. No true heteroglossia here,

although we do hear the echo of an exchange.

Hume then outlines the implications of the mathema­

tician's above "reply":

If so, I must inform you, that besides that i.. n judging after this manner you allow, that exten­ sion is compos'd of indivisible points (which, perhaps, is more than you intend) besides this. I say, I must inform you, that neither is this the standard from which we form the idea of a right line. . . . (52)

Hume has snared the mathematician in his own "words " especially as it is likely that the mathematician is not among those who support the concept of indivisible points

90 (Hume said earlier that few mathematicians support it). Of

course, Hume has put these words into the mathematician's

mouth, but we can assume that these words at least approxi­

mate the latter s position- Further, Hume coyly reminds his

opponent, of whom we have by now garnered a rudimentary idea

of his philosophical character, that implicitly accepting

the doctrine of indivisible points may have been more than

he intended! Even worse for his opponent is Hume's lecturing

tone: "I must inform you," he tells the mathematician

twice, and begins the next paragraph—in which he refers to

the arguments supporting infinite divisibility as

"magnificent pretensions"—with the statement, "This may

open our ideas a little. . ."!

Although Hume does construct an echo of a dialogue for

us, for the most part we can only imagine the poor mathema­

tician rooted speechless to his chair, with a series of

expressions mirroring his discomfiture at Hume's barrage of

guestions, answers, and his spoonfeeding of words. The

hapless mathematician must suffer Hume's exposition of his

argument, which is likely being set up as a punching bag to

take Hume's verbal blows- No true heteroglossia here- but

then Hume has been generous—considering his practice within

the Treati se—in allowing the position to be heard.

Hume then mentions a further challenge to his own argument, that of imagining that since no i dea of infinite

91 divisibility is possible, then quantity itself cannot be

infinitely divisible- To discuss the point of contact

argument, Hume says he will accept the mathematician's

demonstrations on paper, intimating to the reader that he

has already asked, and, as he expected, his opponent did not

refuse to draw the diagrams. He even lets the mathematician

speak, although he is only allowed to explain and justify

his method of demonstration;

I know there is no mathematician, who will not refuse to be judg'd by the diagrams he describes upon paper, these being loose draughts, as he will tell us, and serving only to convey with greater facility certain ideas, which are the true foundation of all our reasoning- This I am satisfy'd with, and am willing to rest the contro­ versy merely upon these ideas- (53)

Here we truly have the feeling that the mathematician

has at last managed to speak to us, as well as to Hume, but

not because we note a change in diction or syntax (unless

"loose draughts" belongs to the mathematician) which would

be required in true heteroglossia; but because Hume lets us

know, through formulaic phrasing ("he will tell us"), that

his opponent is speaking- Hume continues the passage, and

the discussion of the point of contact argument, in much the

same fashion- However, as we read, we realize that Hume has

already thought the argument through, and only allows his opponent to speak in order to advance the line of Hume's reasoning- As will be seen, Hume not only controls the argument, but also "instructs" the mathematician what to do

92 and what to imagine or consider. The formula tag introducing

the opponent's speech is italicized;

I desire therefore our mathematician to form, as accurately as possible, the ideas of a circle and a right line; and I then ask, if upon the concep­ tion of their contact he can conceive them as touching in a mathematical point, or if he must necessarily imagine them to concur for some space. Whichever side he chuses CsicJ, he runs himself into equal difficulties, if he affirms, that in tracing these figures in his imagination, he can imagine them to touch only in a point, he allows the possibility of that idea, and consequently of the thing. l£ he says, that in his conception of the contact of those lines, he must make" them concur, he thereby acknowledges the fallacy of geometrical demonstrations, when carry'd biyond a certain degree of minuteness. . . . (53)

Whether these "statements" of the mathematician can be

taken to constitute a separate point of view is ques­

tionable, since Hume has artfully arranged the structure

of the argument—and therefore his opponent's words—to

carry his point. The reader is again reminded of Bakhtin's

warning about disguised monoglossia and senses the

continuing agonistic character of the exposition.

Hume then turns to the concept of a vacuum, which he

claims is invalid on the basis of the foregoing defini­

tion of extension- When he begins to discuss the three objections to this claim, we discover within the density of his discourse an actual three-term "dialogue," although the voices speak in his diction. For Hume then begins to outline what is obviously an opponent's reasoning on the subject, and to ask: "This being granted, I now demand what results

93 •from the concurrence of these two possible ideas. . . ?"

Then he gives the metaphysicians a "voice," monoglot

though it may be; "There are some metaphysicians, who

answer, that since matter and extension are the same. . . "

(54). Although Hume allows a full "answer" from the

metaphysicians, his reply takes the form of a series of

questions and if-then enthymemes to annihilate their

position, thus ending any real exchange. Once more, the

reader has the sense of reading an argument that is merely

being rehearsed and of being present as Hume browbeats the

already-vanquished opponent.

However, as much as Hume controls the argument to lead

to a particular conclusion, it is still obvious that he is

cognizant of his opponents and does at least give them a

part of the argument. That awareness lends a very different

flavor to Hume's style than if he had merely set out to

write a series of reasoned arguments in the third person. A

great part of that unique flavor, of course, can be

credited to the near approach of the discourse to true

heteroglossia, and to the foreshadowings of structural

di alectics.

Finally, in Part IV, Section V we come to the only other discourse in the Treatise which can be said to approach true heteroglossia. However, the polite conver­ sation in which the parties exchange views degenerates into

94 something resembling a shouting match in a mob. On the other

hand, the "dialogue" itself controls almost the entire

section; it is not an isolated interchange, and thus

resembles in great part the structural dialectics which

characterize the latter parts of the Enquirv. Only the

agonistic tone, plus the dialogue tags, prevents it from

achieving the status of dialectical irony.

It is curious that Hume would take up the guestion he

denounces "certain philosophers" for exploring at the cost

of "running us into " (232). Indeed, he enters

into a discussion of those very contradictions concerning

immateriality of the soul. He first mentions the position of

his opponents, who claim that our perceptions inhere in

either material or immaterial substances. Then he begins a

tripartite exchange by issuing a challenge:

. - . I desire those philosophers, who pretend that we have an idea of the substance of our minds, to point out the impression that produces it, and tell distinctly after what manner that impression operates, and from what object it is deriv'd. (233)

Hume directs a series of questions to the philosophers.

which he allows them to attempt to answer. We have a sense

that the opponents are truly speaking, for Hume has italicized their words to set them apart from his own di scourse;

If instead of answering these questions, any one shou'd evade the difficulty, by saying, that the definition of a substance is something which may e>i i st by itself: and that this definition ought

95 to satisfy us: Shou'd this be said, I shou'd observe, that this definition agrees to every thing, that can possibly be conceiv'd; and never will serve to distinguish substance from accident, or the soul from perception. (233)

It is obvious that Hume is controlling the interchange and excluding any possibility for true heteroglossia. For he has assumed that the philosopher-opponents will be unable to answer his questions and will instead resort to subterfuge.

Poor opponents! To be "accused" of such intellectual turptitude, and without a chance to say a word in defense of oneself! True enough, Hume does let them speak their own words (in italics), but out of all the possible discourse available to them, Hume has only let the opponents speak the words by which they condemned themselves. Furthermore, this bogus reply Hume has constructed is well-tailored to his counterreply: he can make the opponents seem foolish indeed, by coming to the conclusion that it follows from their definition that perceptions are substances. The

"dialogue" ends here, for the opponents have nothing more to say and the reader is left with the conclusion that Hume has silenced them.

Hume then takes up a subject in which he later involves the viewpoints of materialists, their antagonists, and

Spinoza- He spends some time setting up this subject, which follows naturally from the question of whether perceptions inhere in a substance, either material or immaterial. This

96 subject encompasses the question of the conjunction of the

soul with matter, a question which itself can only be

answered—according to Hume—by viewing it in the same light

as that category of things which exist and yet are nowhere

(i.e., they do not take a shape—are not "figur'd and

extended"—and thus do not exist in a place), such as a

taste, a sound, passions and emotions, thought, and so on,

The problem is, how a thing which is not extended can occupy

an extended body? For example, does the taste of a fig

occupy the entire body of the fig, or only one part? If it

occupies the entire body, then the taste itself must be

"figur'd and extended," which is as absurd as saying a

passion has a shape- If it occupies a part, then it is

divisible, which is impossible for a non-extended being- The

view of the Scholastics—that it exists, in its entirety,

both in the whole and in the part—is the same thing as

saying, Hume claims, that the thing both exists in a certain

place, but is not in that place, Hume's conclusion: a being

can exist and yet be nowhere-

Having presented the problem in all its facets, Hume

now turns to his philosophical opponents- The materialists

he has already refuted, by pointing out that it is

impossible for a non-extended being to be conjoined with an

extended object- Although they have never actually spoken, the reader garners the substance of their position from

97 Hume's refutation of it. It is the materialists who would

suppose "- . . that several passions may be plac'd in a

circular figure, and that a certain number of smells,

conjoin'd with a certain number of sounds, may make a body

of twelve cubic inches. - - •• (239)- The reader realizes

Hume has explained their position when he says; "But tho'

in this view of things we cannot refuse to condemn the

materialists, who conjoin all thought with extension- - - "


The opponents of these materialists, however, are given

a broader hearing, although it is in Hume's own diction. The

proponents for the immateriality of the soul are the ones whose argument Hume has outlined extensively (234-5) and on which he bases his subsequent reasonings that a thing can exist and yet be nowhere. Indeed, Hume indicates that this is a position to be reckoned with, by labeling it as an

"- - . argument commonly employ'd for the immateriality of the soul, which seems remarkable," instead of refuting it implicitly- Thus, the reader is already prepared for the mention of the non-materialists:

- - - we cannot refuse to condemn the material­ ists, who conjoin all thought with extension; yet a little reflection will show us egual reason for blaming their antagonists, who conjoin all thought with a simple and indivisible substance. (239)

Now we have a straightforward statement of both positions, which Hume obviously plans to refute. Although

93 these arguments have been condensed to mere position

statements and are in Hume's diction, the reader can well

imagine the two interlocutors seated in a chair, glaring

belligerently at Hume, and possibly at each other, as he

proceeds to demolish their respective viewpoints by

appealing to even "the most vulgar philosophy" (239).

Neither opponent is allowed to gainsay Hume. Indeed, he

introduces a third interlocutor—the freethinker—and says this party has reason "to triumph in his turn." Why? Because

Hume has just explained that we come to know of an external object from an impression; since an idea is copied from an

impression, then if that impression is extended, therefore the idea that agrees with it must necessarily be extended.

The triumphant freethinker is now made to speak to a fourth group, labeled as the freethinker's antagonists:

The free-thinker may now triumph in his turn; and having found there are impressions and ideas really extended, may ask his antagonists, how they can incorporate a simple and indivisible subject with an extended perception? (240, italics mine)

It could very well be that the freethinker's antagonists are those individuals who take an anti-materialist position, since Hume has just mentioned that the latter's position— that thought inheres in an indivisible substance—is just as blameworthy as that of the materialists- And since Hume has just proven that ideas and perceptions can be extended, the non-materialists are presented with the problem of

99 conjoining an extended perception with a simple, indivisible

substance (i.e., a non-extended substance), which is appar­

ently impossible. If the antagonists of the freethinkers are

indeed those who take a non-materialist position, then we

have only three interlocutors so far: materialists, non-

materialists, and free-thinkers. The materialists have been

implicitly refuted, and the weaknesses in the non-

materialist position have just been pointed out by the

freethinkers. In addition, the theologians add their voices

to the fray, and again, it seems that they are finding fault

with the non-materialist position:

All the arguments of Theologians may here be retorted upon them Clikely the non-materialists3 . Is the indivisible subject, or immaterial sub­ stance, if you will, on the left or on the right hand of the perception? Is it in this particular part, or in that other? Is it in every part without being extended? Or is it entire in any one part without deserting the rest? (240)

So the theologians, like the freethinkers, are actual

speakers within this passage. Although it is not possible to

discern whether any of the diction is theirs—which means it

is likely Hume's—their dialogue is tagged and they are

given reasonable remarks; not statements whic^l will

undermine them or work to their detriment later in the


So far the reader can picture a discussion circle with four members present: (1) the materialists, who having been implicitly refuted earlier now remain silent; (2) the

100 non-materialists, who have stated their position through

Hume's summarizing statement, and who are now silently

undergoing critiques from (3) the freethinkers, and (4) the

theologians. But we have yet another interlocutor, a fifth

member of the discussion whose dialogue is not tagged.

Although Hume is providing a faithful reflection of

his opponent's position (albeit in his own diction), the

reader senses immediately that it is Hume who is controlling

or directing the entire exchange. In the "dialogue" just

discussed, Hume has (1) presented the viewpoints of the

interlocutors, then (2) followed with commentary on those

viewpoints. In the first instance, after presenting the

positions of the materialists and their antagonists, Hume

demonstrates logically that an impression or idea can be

extended. In the second instance, after Hume has presented

the "retorts" of the freethinkers and the theologians, he

concludes that it is impossible to construct an answer to

this question that will be anything but absurd. So Hume is

himself an interlocutor, a sort of primus inter pares, as

Burke would call it (516), who guides the discussion in the

direction that it is bound to go.

The argument gets even noisier, however, since the

fifth interlocutor, Hume, decides to introduce the question he has condemned as unintelligible: the substance of the soul. At this point, he introduces Spinoza, the sixth

101 speaker, to the circle to present his ideas on the subject.

But before he allows this position to be heard, Hume speaks

quite openly as a member of the group:

I assert, that the doctrine of the immateriality, simplicity, and indivisibility of a thinking substance is a true atheism, and will serve to justify all those sentiments, for which Spinoza is so universally infamous. (240)

Such is Spinoza's introduction to the group, and it is

under this epithet that he must labor to state his position

to an audience that is apparently hostile to him. The reader

imagines all eyes in the circle—with the possible exception

of Hume's—turned balefully toward the "infamous" Spinoza, who has yet to compose his remarks. For Hume is still

"holding the floor" and mentions yet another group, the members of whom are apparently part of the discussion circle;

From this topic Cthat of immateriality of the soul supporting the atheistic position identified with Spinoza!, I hope at least to reap one advantage, that my adversaries will not have any pretext to render the present doctrine CHume's position in Section V3 odious by their declamations, when they see that they can be so easily retorted on them- (240)

Apparently Hume sees his adversaries—likely those who take a non—materialist position—among the discussion group, eager to "retort," and he means to silence them- He does this in the worst way possible: by equating their belief in the "immateriality, simplicity, and indivisibility of a

102 thinking substance" (240) with the atheism that is

identified with Spinoza-

After incurring the disfavor of his adversaries, Hume briefly explains that Spinoza takes the position that all

thought and matter inhere in one unified substance. Then, at

last, Spinoza is allowed to speak for himself:

There is only one substance, says he CSpinozal, in the world; and that substance is perfectly simple and indivisible, and exists every where, without any local presence. Whatever we discover externally by sensation; whatever we feel inter­ nally by reflection; all these are nothing but modifications of that one, simple, and neces­ sarily existent being, and are not possesst Csicl of any separate or distinct existence- Every passion of the soul; every configuration of matter, however different and various, inhere in the same substance, and preserve in themselves their char­ acters of distinction, without communicating them to that subject, in which they inhere. (241, italics mine)

This passage could easily be taken as a summary in

Hume's own words. But the clue of the dialogue tag makes the reader look more closely for signs of Spinoza's diction-

Echoes of his actual voice are likely heard in the following phrases: "exists everywhere, without any local presence," and "modifications of that one, simple, and necessarily existent being," as well as in the last clause, which begins with "every configuration of matter." Here, again, is a true case of heteroglossia within the context of an actual exchange.

103 Hume proceeds to build the foundation for his argument that Spinoza's atheism and the non-materialist position are, in essence, the same. He does this by a mono-voiced recita­ tion of a by now familiar argument about the relationship between impressions and external objects. Then he turns to a dramatic form of presentation, in which there are, again, several interlocutors.

The little drama opens with a sort of soliloquy, in which Hume imagines himself surveying the universe with the foregoing discussion in mind;

. . - there are two different systems of beings presented, to which I suppose myself under a necessity of assigning some substance, or ground of inhension. I observe first the universe of objects or of body: The sun, moon and stars; the earth, seas, plants, animals, men, ships, and other productions either of art or nature. (242)

Hume is not left alone in his contemplation, however; he is besieged by Spinoza, then the theologians, and finally, by a "hundred voices," each declaiming his view­ point and decrying the others. Then "... Spinoza appears, and tells me, that these are only modifications; and that the subject, in which they inhere is simple, incompounded, and indivisible" (242).

After Spinoza speaks, in his own voice and diction,

Hume apparently does not actually reply, but turns to consider the "universe of thought, or my impressions and ideas." As a result of his cogitation, then, Hume inquires—

104 apparently of anyone who will answer—about the nature of these thoughts and receives an answer from the theologians;

"Upon my enquiring concerning these. Theologians present themselves, and tell me, that these also are modifications, and modifications of one simple, uncompounded, and

indivisible substance" (242).

Interestingly enough, Hume has made the theologians say almost exactly the same thing as Spinoza said earlier. The reader, naturally enough, would doubt whether these words could indeed be spoken in the actual accent and diction of the theologians, who are opponents of Spinoza and would certainly couch their viewpoint in different terms. Further, the theologians are most certainly among the nay-sayers in the passage which immediately follows: "Immediately upon which I am deafen'd with the noise of a hundred voices, that treat the first hypothesis with detestation and scorn, and the second with applause and veneration" (242-3).

Although Hume has apparently invited commentary from the different parties merely by considering the topic and listening when the parties appear, he does not answer them.

Instead, he turns to the isolation of his own thoughts, as he does in response to the "hundred voices." He explains briefly why both of the positions are absurd, but decides to go into detail to prove the similarity between Spinoza's system and the theological position- The opponents of

105 Spinoza—presumbly among them the theologi ans—are allowed

to state their objections:

First it has been said against Spinoza- according to the scholastic way of talking, rather than thinking, that a mode, not being any distinct or separate existence, must be the very same with Its substance, and consequently the extension of the universe, must be in a manner identify'd with that simple, uncompounded essence, in which the universe is suppos'd to inhere. (243)

It is very likely that these opponents are speaking in

their own voices; not only does Hume signify their argument

by a dialogue tag; however, they have used one of Spinoza's

terms; mode. This argument is pronounced "just, as far as

we can understand it" by Hume. He then mentions two other

arguments which support his thesis. Although he does not

indicate who presents the arguments, he does introduce the

reasoning with dialogue tags- It is impossible to tell if

foreign diction is used in these passages-

The rest of Section V is continued in a mono-voiced exposition of the topic, with occasional brief forays into couplets of non-heteroglossaic dialogue with the reader (who is addressed as "you"), and with an implicit opponent, whose objections are introduced with such phrases as : "As to what may be said" or "and shou'd it be said." Among these opponents, only those represented by the "schools" manage to speak in what is probably their own diction ("change of relation," "shocking of two globular particles").

106 In summary, then, we find in Section V several different positions represented, with most of their representatives allowed to speak and two even using their own diction; i.e., we have limited heteroglossia. At the same time, the "dialogue" controls almost all of the section, and Hume, as primus inter pares, directs the discussion. Indeed, in the foregoing passages, Hume comes the closest to displaying the kind of dialectical irony that pervades the Enquirv. The only thing lacking is the reader's sense that Hume's opponents have always been allowed a full exposition of their positions and an even chance to retort.

Their "statements" are usually relatively brief (summarized by Hume), although occasionally they are allowed to step beyond the usual couplet form of exchange and dialectically argue the case with each other. Nor does the reader sense that Hume is aware of the limits oi all arguments; he certainly points out the difficulties with his adversaries' positions in his usual agonistic manner, but does not see the limits of his own stand—which takes a metonymic form— except in one particular and limited instance. Thus, the overall nature of this section is such that Burke's true dialectical irony has been excluded.

107 Irreducible Conflicts; The Privileging of Hume's Doctrine?

In addition to the heteroglossaic and dialectical incipients just discussed. Part IV of the Treatise contains another important feature which distinguishes it from the

Enquiry's latter sections. Apparently, by Part IV

Hume feels he has thoroughly explicated his epistemology and consequently undertakes two goals: to vanquish his oppo­ nents once and for all (as indicated by the chapter titles) and to explain some major philosophical controversies—the

nature of the soul and of —in terms of his empiricism. As Hume carries out his programme, we as readers witness a further development; the familiar head-to-head conflict between the paratactical and hierarchical organiza­ tions of discourse usually results in an irreducible conflict; and even when it does not, the lack of lucidity in

Hume's exposition—caused by the conflicting discourse styles and the tortuous syntax—obscures the clear victory of Hume's doctrine. These textual problems, which will be explored section by section, display a pronounced contrast to the sense of lucidity, balance and resolution which the discourse throughout the Enguirv is constructed to achieve.

In Part IV, Section I, Hume discusses the skeptical viewpoint concerning the fallability of human judgment, which will eventually result in an inability to accept any evidence and in a "total extinction of belief." He then

103 paradoxically declares that no one, including himself, could ever assent to such a viewpoint: and that he only presented the appertaining arguments to demonstrate to the reader that, really, all cause/effect reasoning is based on custom.

It appears, then, that even the laudable practice of examining the accuracy of our judgments is in conflict with our reasoning about matters of fact and with our capacity to know and believe: "I have here prov'd, that the very same

Cskepticaia principles. . . subvert all belief and opinion"


Hume also discusses the conflict between skepticism and reason (idealism), which ". , . as it Cskepticisml is suppos d to be contradictory to reason, it gradually diminishes the force of that. - . power, and its own at the same time; till at last they both vanish away into nothing, by a regular and just diminution" (137). Herein we are presented with the first irreducible conflict, which Hume uses to privilege his doctrine- Since rationalism and skep­ ticism have taken each other down in a mutual death grip, all that is left to explain why we believe anything are some principles of Hume's empiricism: the vivacity of ideas and the ease and naturalness of the imaginative process.

T^le unequi vocabl e nature of this conclusion, however, is not to be found in the succeeding sections of Part IV.

The discourse is much denser, more abstruse, and

109 occasionally reflects Hume's discursive dichotomy. Section

II, which analyzes the nature of our belief in the indepen­

dent and continuous existence of external objects, is such

an abstruse section in which Hume uses rationalist

principles to establish his empirical stand; and in which he

at times couches his discourse in synecdochic terms. As

discussed in the previous section of this thesis, Hume

outlines the rationalist principles and contrasts them with

the positivist viewpoint- After a rather obscure argument,

in which the positivists, the rationalists and the skeptics

all have a part, Hume finally concludes that neither the

senses nor reason can give rise to the belief in the

continued existence of bodies (215)—another contradictory

snarl between reason and the senses, which Hume says is

". . - a malady, which can never be radically cur'd, but must

return upon us every moment, however we may chace Csicl it

away. - . " (213). In the conclusion, Hume himself "oro-

fesses" confusion, although mired deeply and almost

invisibly within this demonstration of the irreducible

conflict and the contradictory forms of discourse that seem

to reflect Hume's professed confusion is a conclusion that

only imagination and custom are what make us believe in

body. In the Enquirv^ on the other hand, the contribution of each party is clearly delineated and brought to harmony through the medium of mitigated skepticism.

i 10 In Section III, Hume examines the same topic from the

standpoint of . Here, again, he has to speak the language of the idealists, discussing "accidents,"

"occult qualities," "original or first matter," and

"substantial forms-" Three viewpoints are analyzed—the

vulgar conception of objects; the false philosophy; and the

true philosophy, which the reader comes to realize is

equated with moderate skepticism and with the vulgar concep­ tion, which includes custom- Here we have a foreshadowing of

the moderating force of Hume's skepticism which finally emerges by the end of the Enquiry—and an indication of the overriding importance that custom and habit will assume in the final form of Hume's epistemology- l-^owever, both of these signal concepts are embedded within the rather muddled exposition; thus, the "triumph" of the a posteriori formulation of the subject must be extracted inferentially by the reader- The lack of clarity and sense of direction in argument is obvious when compared with Hume's discourse on similar topics in the Enouirv-

• - '

The same evaluation could be applied to Hume's dis­ course in Section IV- In fact, embedded in the discourse here are the faint outlines of an implied dialogic coup^et. v^hich appears to control the whole section. The first hint of this is when Hume agoni sti cal 1 y engages the positior! of the "iTiodern" philosophers, the skeptics:

1 11 The modern philosophv pretends to be entirely free from this defect Cof the ancient philoso­ phers! and to arise only from the solid- permanent, and consistent principles of the imagination- Upon what grounds this pretension is founded must now be the subject of our enquiry- (226)

After an explication of the skeptics' stand, in which they claim that not even primary qualities (extension and

solidity) can be accounted for, Hume concludes that modern

philosophy can provide ". . . no just nor satisfactory idea

of. . . matter" (229). Since he fears the abstruseness and

intricacy (his words) of the argument, Hume tries again. The

result of his discussion is the following question: how can

we form an idea of an object without having recourse to the

sensible qualities? Answer: we cannot. Thus, we cannot prove the independent existence of objects by the senses;

nor can we prove it without the senses. Result: irreducible

conflict. Hume himself gives voice to this impasse:

Thus there is a direct and total opposition betwixt our reason and our senses: or more prop­ erly speaking, betwixt those conclusions we form from cause and effect, and those that persuade us of the continu'd and independent existence of body. When we reason from cause and effect, we conclude, that neither colour, sound, tasts, nor smell have a continu'd and independent existence- When we exclude these sensible qualities there remains nothing in the universe which has such an existence. (231)

Section V, which was analyzed at length in terms of its dialogicity, addresses the topic of the soul s i,n;nate- riality- Hume reviews the subject from a ration^^iist viewpoint; referees an interchange between various

1 12 opponents; and then turns from the discussion of the union

of extension and substance to the cause of our perceptions,

which entails a complex explanation of the Scholastic

conception of motion, matter, and thought. The result is

that Hume demonstrates the irreducible conflict in the a

ariori position of the Scholastics- It is not until after

careful study, however, that the reader can extract the line

of argument and the relation of the Scholastic position to

the immateriality of the soul and, therefore, its necessity to the discussion. The whole argument hinges on whether motion can cause thought, and the Scholastics claim it cannot- However, after much reasoning, Hume claims that we know from experience that motion does cause thought, and that due to our "fancy" and "propensity to complete a union," we "feign" a belief that thought is conjoined with matter (our bodies)- There is obviously an irreducible conflict between reason, in which we discover that thought and motion are distinct and can never form a union: and experience, in which we learn that they are constantly conjoined. Result: we can never prove t.he i mmateri al i tv of the soul; all we will ever know is what we learn from experi ence-

Apparently, Hume has demonstrated the superiority of his doctrine. However, this conclusion is embedded within intricate rationalistic exposition; aoain, we have the

1 13 mixing of philosophical methods and, consequently, of

discourse styles. In fact. Section V is one of the most

complex in the Treatise and Selby-Bigge's claim that Hume

excised some portions of the work in the interest of

readability would certainly seem to have validity in the

case of this section- It would have been interesting to see

how Hume would have handled this topic in the Enquirv- since

his discourse is much more explicit and its direction is

clearly defined by the time he writes the latter work.

Perhaps, as well, a dialectical treatment of this theme

would have resulted in more clarity and a more obvious

triumph of Hume's doctrine.

In the final section on personal identity, Hume asks what gives us an idea of the self, since we are only aware of a succession of objects? Hume answers the question without invoking an opponent; thus there are no irreducible conflicts between positions- However, in the conclusion to

Book I of the Treati se. Hums seems torn once again between his tendency towards reasoning and abstruse thought (i-e.. rationalism) and his own metonymic doctrine. He dramatizes, as well- the conflict between his love of philosophical studies and the comsnon life, and these two modes cf life are apparently just as incompatible as the two epistemoloqies which he c^innot harmonize. When reasoning becomes too strained or painful, nature (the common life) rescues him bv

i 1 4 inclining him toward everyday activities like playing backgammon or dining. Then, having a rest, he finds himself inclined once again to wrestle with philosophy. Through this little drama, Hume demonstrates the gap between reasoning and the common life, as well as the difficulty philosophy discovers in reconciling them. Furthermore, his principles, as he says earlier, seem too slender for such weighty conclusions; and he admits here that these principles lead to error (265), yet are the very foundation of our lives when it comes to reasoning from cause and effect (the source of all our knowledge). Hume him.self calls attention to the problem by saying that "this contradiction wou d be more excusable, were it compensated by any degree of solidity and satisfaction in the other parts of our reasoning. Sut the case is quite contrary" (266). A priori reasoning is no help either. We can't avoid using it, Hume says, and yet it leads us into irresolvable problems (263). Apparently, both a priori and a posteriori reasoning are problematical and result in an irreducible conflict:

What party, then, shall we choose among these difficulties: If we embrace this principle Lthe "fancy," experience, and custom!, and condemn all refin'd reasonings Crationalisml, we run into the most manifest - If we reject it in favour of these reasonings, we subvert entirely the numari understanding. We have, therefore, no left but betwixt a false reason and none at all- For my part, I know not what ought to be done in the present case- I can only observe what is commonly done: which is, that this difficultv is seldom or never thought of; and even where it

115 has once been present to the mind, is quickly forgot, and leaves but a small impression behind it. Very refin'd reflections have little or no influence upon us: and yet we do not, and cannot establish it for a rule, that they ought not to have any influence: which implies a manifest contradiction. (263)

Nor is skepticism any help in solving these problems. As

Hume points out, the skeptics, in their attempts to refute the rationalists, use reason to "prove the fallaciousness and imbecility of reason":

Reason first appears in possession of the throne, prescribing laws, and imposing maxims, with an ab­ solute sway and authority. Her enemy, therefore, is oblig d to take shelter under her protection, and by making use of rational arguments to prove the fallaciousness and imbecility of reason, pro­ duces in a manner, a patent under her hand and seal. (1S6-7)

Hume proceeds to say that since the skeptical stance is contradictory to the rationalistic one, both are reduced in force until "they both vanish away into nothing, by a regular and just diminution" (137). Hume's empiricism couid certainly be seen as contradictory to the idealist principles and approaches which he often uses to explicate that philosophy. These tantalizing statements of Hume's may suggest that he eventually discovered the conflict in his own discourse, and this may, m c^art, account for the stylistic differences between the Treati se and its later reformulation, the Enquiry ccncerni nq Human Understandinq.

Hume concludes that the frame of ran ' should be infuired, at least in pe,rt , into the rurnor r^f?ry

i 16 imaginations of the philosophers; then, perhaps, ". . . we

might hope to establish a system or a set of opinions, which

If not true. . . might at least be satisfactory to the human

mind, and might stand the test of the most critical examina­

tion" (272)- Interestingly enough, it seems that in this

sentence Hume has written the guideline for his future

thought and work on epistemology. For in the Enguiry, Hume's

aim is a harmonizing one: to balance philosophy with the

common life and to "unite the boundaries of the different

species of philosophy-" It could be said that Hume managed

to clarify his thoughts by writing the Treatise- coming at

last to these two goals- In fact, it could be said, perhaps

without exaggeration, that from a methodological and

ciiscursive point of view, Hume wrote the entire Treati se as

a preface to the Enguirv-

Conciusion to Chapter 2

The nature of Hume's discourse in A Treati se of Human

Nature cannot be defined by one trope. Although his overall

philosophical orientation and method—and thus, his way of intellectually organizing and conceiving of the issues.

concerning human knowledge—are those of an empiricist, Hume

does not limit himself to the metonymic formulation of the

materials of reality. He can, when he feels the issue

warrants it, organize his discourse in a manner that

reflects his synecdochic construal of that issue. E^ut hv

1 1 7 adopting the trope of the idealists—whose method and position he opposes—Hume presents a discourse which is divided within itself and which presents a dilemma to the reader- Finally, the trope of irony is represented in its

incipient form throughout the Treatise, although it does

not inform its overall structure—except in two abbreviated

cases—as it does in the latter parts of the Enguirv.

Furthermore, the Treatise's basic structure is

characterized by conflict: in the agonistic discourse: in

the contradiction between the synecdochic (hierarchical) and metonymic (paratactical) organizations of discourse: and in

the presentation of irreducible conflicts? ail of which results m a lack of clarity and harmony in the work's

di scourse-

The reader is not surprised when Hume complains in the conclusion of putting "out to sea in the same leaky weather- beaten vessel" (263) which has been struck on many shoals: of being ". . . affrighted and confounded with that forlorn solitude, in which I am piac d in my philosophy": of not being able to foresee anything but "dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction" on every side: snd that when he looks inward- he finds "nothing but doubt and ignorance"

(264), f-iel 1 ef - however = is not long in cominn—-for either

Hume or his reader. Within the space of nine years, the

Enquirv is oubl i s^ied and within that work, Hume solves the

lis problems alluded to above. He sets out in a seaworthy ship for new and shining lands indeed, and within that vessel is a company whose varying and contradictory views he manages to reconcile with his own.




In turning from the Treatise to the Enguiry, the reader

immediately notices two things: (1) the decrease in length,

and the subsequent compactness of the discourse in general, and (2) the excision of certain topics—such as time and

space issues—which more nearly concern idealists in general, and abstract philosophers in particular. A critical

analysis of the differences between the two works has been 6 done by Selby-Bigge, in which he notes that the Enquiry has -7/ a "lower philosophical standard" (Nidditch xiv) than the

Treatise, and that the omissions make it impossible to consider the Enquiry as representing the whole of Hume's 3 philosophy, as the latter wished (xx>.

However the philosophical guality of the Enguirv is

judged by philosophers, a study of Hume's discourse in both works will yield insights into Hume's intention as an author and shed light on why he considered the Enquiry to be the definitive form of his philosophy, although other philoso­ phers have found it wanting. Indeed, Hume's discomfort with the Treat i se's "manner" and his decision to recast it in a totally different form is indicative of a new purpose, which is worked out through the discourse of the Enguiry. The evidence further suggests that not only has Hume molded the

120 "matter" into an entirely new structure, but by doing so he

has made his philosophical method more rigorous—which is

one more way of saying the same thing, for method finds its

expression in structured discourse, its tropological

counterpart. Thus I contend that Hume cast his bias unequiv­

ocally on the side of empiricism as he has come to conceive

it, and that the outlines of this bias can clearly be seen

in the consistent metonymizing of the Enquiry's discourse;

and secondly, I a\rer that because Hume's intention in inves­

tigating and writing about this philosophical material

changed significantly, the Enguiry can, indeed, be con­

sidered as his most definitive statement on epistemology.

The new purpose, which so transformed the discourse, is only remotely related to the motive attributed to Hume by Selby-

Bigge and other writers; that Hume recast the Treatise to achieve public recognition, fame, or vulgar success.

Instead, as this thesis will show, the Enquiry's structure indicates a new intellectual consciousness on Hume's part, which is nothing less than an evolution of the author as a literary man and an experienced man of the world.

Hume provided two hints about this new intellectual consciousness and how it would transform his philosophical work. His avowed aim, as mentioned in the Enquiry's Section

I (16), is to "unite the boundaries of the different species of philosophy." Although it is not stated outright, a second

121 goal is alluded to repeatedly throughout the Enquiry; Hume

wishes to harmonize the common life and its common sense

maxims with philosophical inquiry and doctrine. How and to

what extent these aims contributed to the transformed

discourse of the Enquiry are crucial questions this study

will address.

Metonymy and Synecdoche in the Enquirv

Although synecdoche is used extensively to organize

discourse in the Treatise—both to explicate rationalist

positions and to buttress Hume's own stance as well—the

reader of the Enquiry finds comparatively few examples of

it, and these are confined to abbreviated passages. In most

sections of this work, Hume consistently metonymizes his

discourse until he reaches Section VIII, where he begins to

demonstrate the implications of the doctrinal groundwork he

has established in previous sections; additionally, he

carries out his programme without using idealist


In Section I, for example, Hume discusses the two

kinds of philosophy—the easy and the abstruse—and shows how one contributes to the other, as well as how the latter

"mixes" with superstition. This analysis has a synecdochal character, since it shows the relationships between three entities. Yet, in spite of its criticism of abstruse philosophy, the topic is hardly a crucial one to the establishment of the validity of Hume's philosophical

position. Nor does he use synedoche as he did in his first

work on epistemology—as support for his empiricist


In Section II, Hume discusses the two classes of

perception (thoughts/ideas and impressions) and shows the

relationship between them (degree of force or vivacity),

finally concluding that all ideas are based on impressions.

What started as a classification has ended as a metonymy,

and Hume spends the rest of the chapter proving that this

reductive principle is valid.

It is also in Section II that Hume uses synecdoche to

lay down the parameters of his inquiry; he wants to know

the "- - - different operations of the mind, to separate

them from each other, to class them under their proper

heads- - - - " (13), and thence to discover the "secret

principles" governing these operations, which probably

depend upon one another and which can be resolved into a more general and universal one (14)- But as it becomes clear

later in the Enguirv, it is by a study of these various

"operations of the mind" that Hume "discovers" the recurring principle of constant conjunction, which has as its core the appeal to sense perception- So from within this synecdochal matrix, a metonymic principle is incubated and hatched- The

123 universal principle that Hume sought is essentially

reductive in nature; an oxymoronic clash of tropes-

No significant appeal to the idealist trope appears

until Section IV. Here, Hume uses the same idealist

principle to make the distinction between the two objects of

man's investigation; the relations of ideas (geometry,

algebra and arithmetic) and matters of fact. The former are

investigated only by the operation of thought. As for the

latter, which are crucial to the Enguiry's investigation,

Hume says that thought alone will not serve to establish the

truth of any of its propositions. Indeed, "the contrary of

every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never

imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so conformable to reality" (25). The same idealist principle is mentioned at the end of the Enguirv (164). In both cases, Hume is using the principle in order to "divide" his subject, in the manner of the Roman rhetoricians.

It is also in Section IV that Hume examines a most crucial topic to his epistemology: cause and effect, the operation of the mind which is the basis of human knowledge concerning matters of fact. He investigates why, since nature only affords us knowledge of ". . .a few superficial gualities of objects; while she conceals from us those powers and principles on which the influence of these

124 objects entirely depends" (32-3), we insist on forming a

conclusion regarding the future based on our experience with

certain objects. Hume declares that none of the branches of

human knowledge can account for the "secret connection"

between one experience and the generalization to other

similar —the leap of inference (32,34). Infer­

ence is grounded in experience, he explains, and couches

that conclusion in metonymic terms: "In reality, all

arguments from experience are founded on the similarity

which we discover among natural objects. . . " (36): but

claims at the same time that although not even

can account for inference, the latter is most certainly not

based upon the reasoning process. The clarity and

conciseness of this conclusion and its preceding line of

argument are made obvious by a comparison with the corres­ ponding discussion in the Treatise.

In Section V, Hume gives the solution to the above puzzle, explaining that it is custom or habit which is responsible for the leap of inference. Of course, experience and constant conjunction are at the bottom of this prin­ ciple; thus, Hume finds plenty of occasion to discredit abstract reasoning and privilege empiricism as a source of knowledge. The secret connection between cause and effect cannot be discovered by reasoning, he explains, because

". . . the particular powers, by which ail natural

'.cr operations are performed, never appear to the senses. . . "

(42); further, all reasoning is finally based on observation

(44). In the ultimate metonymy, Hume claims that one cannot even draw a conclusion without sense perception:

All belief of matter of fact or real existence i= derived merely from some object, present to the memory or senses Cmemory is merely a record of Ideas which themselves are copied from impres- sionsl, and a customary conjunction between that and some other object. (46)

Thus, Hume demonstrates that the operative factor in cause and effect is his own empirical doctrine, which is metonymic in character.

As Section V continues, Hume makes the distinction between belief and imagination, and at the same time shows the relationship between them. Both are conceptions of the mind, but belief is "a more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady conception of an object" and it tends to "weigh more in the thought" (49). So far we have a modest synecdochic construction, in which degree defines the relationship between the two entities (belief and imagination); but Hume soon reverts to metonymy when he says about belief that

"this manner of conception arises from a customary c onjunction of the object with something present to the memory or senses. . . " (50).

Hume's avowed intention in this section is to find other operations of the mind which are analogous to that of belief and then construct a general to cover all mental

126 operations (50-1). To that end, Hume investigates the three

relations: resemblance, contiguity, and causation. In each

case, he finds they all have something in common: each

partakes of the principle of degree of force or vivacity

(the essence) with which they strike the consciousness. Thus

far, Hume has handled his data in a synecdochic fashion.

Yet in the end, he metonymizes the general principle. For in

each of the relations, the vivacity of the idea is the

strongest when it proceeds from the perception of an actual


But what is there in this whole matter to cause such a strong conception, except only a present object and a customary transition to the idea of another object, which we have been accustomed to conjoin with the former? This is the whole operation of the mind, in all our conclusions concerning matter of fact and existence. . . . The transition from a present object does in all cases give strength and solidity to the related idea. (54)

Hume takes a parting shot at abstract reasoning when he

emphasizes the importance of the principle of custom. It is not probable, he says, that this operation of the mind "so essential to the subsistence of all human creatures" (55) would be entrusted by nature to the fallacious and labored reasoning process of man.

In Section VII Hume signals his metonymic intention by saying that the ideas in the "mathematical sciences" Cpre- sumably he means applied ! are always "clear and determinate" since they are "sensible"; on the other hand,

127 the moral sciences, as dealt with in metaphysics, are much more obscure. Thus, he will rectify this state of affairs by first inquiring into the definitions of power, force, or necessary connection regarding cause and effect- Since our ideas are copies of impressions, it is obvious that if there is any obscurity about an idea, we should seek out the corresponding impression: such will be the ultimate appeal in the moral sciences. Consequently, Hume himself will launch a metonymic search for the impression of power in all possible sources (60-3)- Hume examines whether this impres­ sion is obtained from external objects, or from reflection on the operations of our own minds (i-e., copied from an internal impression), which we derive from observing the effects of our will upon our bodily members. He also inves­ tigates whether we are conscious of a power in our own minds when we mentally examine ideas. In all cases he concludes that all we know proceeds from experience and this provides absolutely no impression of that power which constitutes necessary connection. Hume even discusses the theory of the

Deity as a possible source of power, but this theory has

"- . . no authority when we thus apply it to subjects that lie entirely out of the sphere of experience" (72). Although it might seem that Hume is dealing with synecdochal concepts when he investigates the possible sources of the idea of power, in each case the sources are related by Hume to

123 experience. Since Hume starts his search on a metonymic basis, his conclusion that the nature of the necessary

connection remains unknown is not surprising, as it is consistent with empiricism- Such an explicit and compactly

metonymized version of the search for the impression of power has no counterpart in the Treatise, although Hume does discuss external bodies as a possible source in an emenda­

tion for the work's later editions-

Hume finally concludes that the idea of power

originates in a feeling in the mind, which arises from observation of the constant conjunction of objects or events- The secret powers themselves, then, as well as our consciousness of power or necessary connection not only are inexplicable, but have been reduced to a mere "trick" of the mind which is based on the five senses. Hume's final definition of cause is similarly metonymized:

Similar objects are always conjoined with similar. Of this we have experience. Suitably to this ex­ perience, therefore, we may define a cause to be an object, followed by another, and where al1 the objects mi 1ar to the first are followed by objects si mi 1ar to the second. . . . The appear­ ance of a cause always conveys the mind, by a customary transition, to the idea of the effect. Of this also we have experience. We may, therefore, suitably to this experience, form another defini­ tion of cause, and call it, an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other. (76-7)

In addition to confining synecdoche to abbreviated passages and using it in service of a reductive doctrine.

129 Hume also either scales down his discussion of topics he

formerly handled in the synecdochic mode or abandons them

altogether in the Enquiry. A most significant case-in-point

is Hume's metonymizing of the subject of time and space,

from a whole Part in the Ireatise (over forty pages) to a

few lines in the last section of the Enquirv. Here is a

topic, dear to idealists, which must be dealt with in a

synecdochic fashion—both in philosophical method and in

discourse. In order to discuss the infinite divisibility of

extension and mathematical points, one cannot appeal to the

senses or observation, but must resort to dealing with

mental conceptions. But in this work, Hume has avoided

trafficking with idealists on the topic altogether. Although

the ultimate purpose of the Treatise's synecdochically-

contrived investigation is to demonstrate that an impression

underlies all types of probability, Hume's manner of con­

ceiving his material—and consequently, of writing about

it—is undoubtedly synecdochic, as is the nature of the topic itself- Thus, in the Treatise, the discussion of probability is representative of Hume's divided conscious­ ness- In the Enquiry, however, Hume drops all the elaborate synecdochic apparatus and as a result, his reductive inten­ tion is not only much more emphatic, but it controls the entire section of discourse on the subject. Hume briefly explains that in the case of both chance and the probability

130 of causes, the operative factor is the "force and vigour" of the impression on the imagination- This, of course, is a synecdochic formulation, but it is so compacted that it is absorbed by the general sweep of the reductive intention-

Hume then explains the nature of belief in explicitly metonymic terms: "If we allow, that belief is nothing but a firmer and stronger conception of an object than what attends the mere fictions of the imagination. . ." (57, emphasis mine).

The foreshortening of the material also emphasizes positivism: Hume's examples (the die, the weather), which are observable "objects," take up proportionately more space in the selection, and his tendency to speak in terms of objects and quantity lends a reductive flavor to the section:

But where different effects have been found to follow from causes, which are to appearance exactly similar. . . . we must not overlook the other effects, but must assign to each of them a particular weight and authority, in proportion as we have found it to be more or less frequent . . . . we transfer all the different events, in the same proportion as they have appeared in the past, and conceive one to have existed a hundred times, for instance, another ten times, and another once. As a great number of views do here concur in one event, they fortify and confirm it to the imagination, beget that sentiment which we call beli ef. ... (56)

The other case of extended synecdoche in the Treati se— in which Hume examines the positions concerning the imma­ teriality of the soul—has no counterpart in the Engui_ry-

131 Hume does not discuss this material, even in abbreviated form.

A section-by-section reading of the Enquiry has

revealed that Hume maintains a rigorously empirical stance

and that his discourse reflects this method of organizing

the data of consciousness by taking on a consistently

metonymic character. Whatever appeals to synecdoche Hume

makes are abbreviated and subsumed by the insistent

metonymic sweep of the discourse.

Clearly, Hume has purged his recast version of the

Treatise of the greater part of idealist references. It is

certainly possible that Hume recognized the dichotomy in his

approach to epistemology in the first work, and deliberately

set out to rectify that dichotomy in order to produce a work

which was more consistent in its "manner."

As for Hume's avowed purpose to "unite the boundaries

of the different species of philosophy" (16), it, too, leads to a privileging of Hume's empirical doctrine as the ultimate appeal in the search for the basis of our know­ ledge. However, Hume's approach to this material is much more sophisticated than a mere metonymizing of the issues: he uses dialectical irony to handle the varying perspectives of the "different species of philosophy," as well as to control the overall structure of the Enqui ry—an approach which will be studied in detail later in this chapter. Irony in the Enquiry

That metonymy is the dominant trope in the first seven

sections of the work, which are devoted to an explication of

Hume's empirical doctrine, is understandable. However,

irony is the pervasive trope of the Enguirv's last five

sections and how Hume can remain rigorously metonymic in the

remainder of the work is an apparent problem which this

thesis attempts to resolve. The solution should shed light

on Hume's intention in recasting the Treatise and provide an

answer to those critics who feel that Hume sacrificed philo­

sophical standards for literary fame.

My approach will be to study irony in the first seven sections of the Enguirv, comparing their dialogical character and dialectics with that found in the Treatise.

Then I will concentrate on an analysis of the last sections with a two-pronged approach: (1) the special nature of the irony will be investigated, and (2) the thread of Hume's reductive method will be picked up from Section VII and followed through to the conclusion of the Enquiry.

Dialogicity in the Enguirv

The first three sections of the work are composed in a straightforward monoglossaic style, which is compatible with

Hume's intention to explain the basics of his epistemology.

The text in Section IV is more dialogically rich, however.

Hume addresses either an opponent or his reader in the second person singular; "I beseech you, must the mind proceed in this manner?" He also explicitly addresses

"philosophers" in general and, in a un-Treatise-1ike turn towards ironic self-awareness, includes himself in his warning:

Philosophers, that give themselves airs of superior wisdom and sufficiency, have a hard task when they encounter persons of inquisitive dispo­ sition, who push them from every corner to which they retreat, and who are sure at last to bring them to some dangerous dilemma. The best expe­ dient. . . is to be modest in our pretensions; and even to discover the difficulty ourselves before it is objected to us. By this means, we may make a kind of merit of our very ignorance. (32)

Furthermore, Hume demonstrates a degree of modesty by confessing his ignorance about the foundation of inference

(34). In fact, he even shows an ironic awareness of the limits of his own argument in this section, for he method­ ically establishes that no argument—including strict positivism—can account for the leap of inference. This admission, in comparison with the same one in the Treati se, is truly ironic, for it is couched here in the midst of qualifying phrases such as "I must confess." Hume also concludes the section with an apparent air of modestv:

This is the proposition which I intended to enforce in the present section- If I be right, I pretend not to have made any mighty discovery. And if I be wrong, I must acknowledge myself to be indeed a very backward scholar; since I cannot now discover an argument which, it seems, was perfectly familiar to me long before I was born. (39)

134 Although the latter remark may have certainly been said

with tongue-in-cheek, the overall tone of modesty is cer­

tainly not characteristic of the Hume of the Treatise.

Continuing with an analysis of Section IV, we note that

Hume's dialogue with the reader suggests a much less

agonistic attitude than he displays toward opponents in the

Treatise. In fact, it is in the dialogical character of

Hume's reader appeals that we have even stronger evidence of

his "turn" away from the agonism associated with the atten­

uated heteroglossia in the Treatise and toward dialectical

irony—a further hint of why Hume recast the Treatise in the

way he did. In Part II of the section, the discourse is

especially rich in reader appeal- Hume explains that infer­

ence is not made by a chain of reasoning, then addresses the

reader indirectly:

But as the question is yet new, every reader may not trust so far to his own penetration, as to conclude, because an argument escapes his enquiry, that therefore it does not really exist- For this reason it may be requisite to venture upon a more difficult task; and enumerating all the branches of human knowledge, endeavor to show that none of them can afford such an argument- (35)

Hume has not only made reference to his readers, but has anticipated their puzzlement and about such abstruse subjects- By setting down his line of future inquiry, which is a result of their "response" so far, Hume is also attempting to engage their intellectual partici­ pation- Thus, the discourse that follows on the next two

135 P-g.= i. .et down with the reader xn .ind. Hu.e concludes

thi. pha.e Of the discu.eion with further implicit appeals

to the reader:

result"rn''ir'^°" " '"'""^^ °* reasoning can sa^e of infor'"!^^^""' ' propose as much for the raising J"tT Vt°"' ^= "'*^ ^" intention of imaain= ^'^^^-^^^ties. I cannot find, I cannot open to f"r,="^^^^^^°"i"g- B"t I keep my mind blltJ. il T' '* ""'>' °"^ "ill vouchsafe to Pestow it on me- (36)

After enlisting the reader's intellectual cooperation

for the investigation, Hume "confesses" that he cannot find

an answer- Very likely, the reader will follow in Hume's

mental "footsteps" and conclude that neither he nor anyone

else can find it- Furthermore, Hume apparently (although not

actually) leaves the door open for future dialogue, thus not

only appearing less egotistical, but also establishing a

foundation for dialectics.

A few paragraphs later, Hume turns to direct address of 9 the reader;

You say that the one proposition is an inference from the other. But you must confess that the inference is not intuitive; neither is it demon­ strative: Of what nature is it, then? To say it is experimental, is . (37)

Here the reader is given tagged dialogue and Hume engages in reasoning with him. Although the sample cannot gualify as heteroglossia (the diction is obviously Hume's), the reader is still given the full status of a reasonable human being

136 capable of intellectual interchange. Then Hume explains that

experience cannot penetrate the secret of inference, either:

In vain do you pretend to have learned the nature Of bodies from your past experience. Their secret nature, and consequently all their effects and influence, may change, without any change in their sensible qualities. This happens sometimes, and with regard to some objects: Why may it not happen ^iways, and with regard to all objects: My prac­ tice, you say, refutes my doubts. But you mistake the purport of my question. As an agent. I am quite satisfied in the point; but as a philosopher - - - I Wcint to learn the foundation of this inference. No reading, no enquirv has vet been able to remove my difficulty, or'given me satis­ faction in a matter of such importance. Can I do better than propose the difficulty to the public, even though, perhaps, I have smali hopes of obtaining a solution? We shall at least, by this means, be sensible of our ignorance, if we do not augment our knowledge. (37)

That the reader loses the argument to Hume is

immaterial. True enough, Hume is controlling the argument,

and there is no evidence for polyglossia; yet Hume engages

the reader in the line of argument, giving him credit as an

interlocutor egual to the task. Hume's less egotistical

persona is further underlined by his frequent use of

disclaimers and by his modest admission that he cannot find

the answer and may remain ignorant of it. Furthermore he

explicitly puts his case before the public in the hopes that

they will provide a solution. Although Hume is likely taking

an ironic stance in this passage, since he obviously feels there is no answer, it is still significant that he chose to

137 couch his disclaimer in words which apoeal to the reader's

judgment and opinion.

Comparative analysis of the Treatise sections

corresponding to those just analyzed in the Enquiry reveals

that Hume has conveyed an entirely different ethos in his

reader appeals. Sections III, IV and VI (Treatise Book I) do

not appear to have any appeals that can be certainly identi -

fied as belonging to the reader—unless the reader is

identified with Hume's opponents, such as "Dr. Clarke and

others." Continuing, then, with the analysis of dialogicity

in the Enquiry's first seven sections, we turn to Section

VII. Hume sums up the position of his opponents—Locke and his followers—concerning the "secret powers" that account for the connection between cause and effect, prefacing the summary statements with dialogue tags:

Instead of saying that one billiard-ball moves another by a force which it has derived from the author of nature, it is the Deity himself, they say, who, by a particular volition, moves the second ball. . . . They assert that the Deity is the immediate cause of the union between soul and body. . . . Thus, according to these philoso­ phers, everything is full of God. (70-1, italics mine)

It could certainly be argued that, in the sample above,

Hume's opponents are speaking in their own diction. The statement that "the Deity is the immediate cause of the union between soul and body" contains elements at odds with

Hume's usual diction; in addition, the last statement has a

133 definitely foreign flavor. Earlier in the same paragraph, as

a part of a summary of the opponent position, Hume also

italicizes a word ("occasions"), apparently to separate it

from his own diction. These are, however, the only cases of

heteroglossia that I could isolate in the first seven

sections of the Enquiry.

Hume, of course, cannot resist a refutation to this

line of reasoning. Indeed, his refutation is manifested in

the very diction and syntax of his summary of the opponent's

position, in which the echoes of mockery and agonism are


In like manner, it is not any energy in the will that produces local motion in our members: It is God himself, who is pleased to second our will . - - - Nor do philosophers stop at this conclu­ sion- They sometimes extend the same inference to the mind itself, in its internal operations- (71)

This agonistic tone is in direct conflict with the

studied humility in previous sections of the work- In fact,

one is carried back in one's imagination to the Treatise and

its numerous confrontations between Hume and his opponents,

who are, more often than in the present work, allowed to

speak in their own diction- Note the agonism in Hume's rebuttal:

- . . They rob nature, and all created beings, of every power, in order to render their dependence on the Deity still more sensible and immediate. They consider not that, by this theory, they dimi­ nish, instead of magnifying, the grandeur of those attributes, which they affect so much to celebrate.

139 Hume further remarks that the opponent's position takes us into "fairy land," and at one point addresses the opponents directly; "Whence, I beseech you, do we acquire

any idea of Cthe force by which the mind operates^';'" (72)

But the opponents have no chance to speak in defense of themselves, not even through Hume's summarizing voice- Thus, we have only a dialogue couplet, not a true case of dialectics- As for the rest of the implied dialogue in

Section VII, Hume chooses to locate it in footnotes.

Also in Section VII, Hume constructs discourse rich in reader appeal when he addresses the problem of why we assume there is necessarily a connection between cause and effect-

Hume employs many disclaimers which are indicative of his awareness of the reader, and which lend a less belligerant and less monoglossaic character to his discourse:

I have endeavored to explain and prove this proposition and have expressed my hopes, that, by a proper application of it, men may reach a greater clearness and precision in philosophical reasonings, than what they have hitherto been able to attain- (62)

He also draws a conclusion, he hopes, "without any temerity" (67) -

Hume also makes direct appeals to the reader in this section. Explaining that the impression of necessary connection can never be found in an object, he directs the reader to "contemplate the subject on all sides: you will never find any other origin of that idea" (75). Aftsr

140 summarizing his reasoning on the subject, Hume again manifests an awareness of the reader and his possible

difficulties in following the argument- In addition, he comments self-consciously on the limits of his own discourse

in this respect;

I know not whether the reader will readily apprehend this reasoning. I am afraid that, should I multiply words about it, or throw it into a greater variety of lights, it would only become more obscure and intricate. In all abstract reasonings there is one point of view which, if we can happily hit, we shall go farther towards illustrating the subject than by all the eloquence and copious expressions in the world. (79)

Indeed, Hume is outlining his approach to the work as a whole, if Selby-Bigge is correct in his assumption that

Hume's aim in the Enguirv is to be concise in the interest of readability (xii).

In the Treati se, on the other hand, the tone in the corresponding sections (Section XIV of Part III) is ago­ nistic and monoglossaic. The personal prounoun abounds ("I repeat," "I turn my eye," "I immediately perceive," "I therefore enlarge," "I find," "For thus I reason," "I doubt not," "And this I carry so far") and Hume does not show the same consideration for the reader's viewpoint; indeed, when

Hume exhibits his awareness of the reader at all, it is only to comment—albeit ironically—on the abstruseness of his own reasoning:

141 ild^^ ^^°''^: *° ^'^^ warning, that I have just now examined one of the most ques­ tions in philosophy. . . . su^h a warnino will naturally rouze up the attention of the ;eader. and make him desire a more full account of my ' doctrine.. . . . -. Thi«inA_= requesre^l.t=c^t- •i;s ^ s^o^ reasonable., , that I cannot refuse complying with it. . . . (1 VJ6)

Hume uses the reader to make a vainglorious comment on

his own intellectual prowess and force-feeds him a "reguest"

to further the exposition. His "warning" does not take into

account the reader's possible difficulties in understanding,

nor serve as a road sign of the argument's direction. He

also ventriloquizes the reader to further his argument,

giving the latter the role of a rather hesitant, even

obstinate reasoner. "I am sensible," he declares, "that of

all the paradoxes. . . the present one is the most violent

- - - . I am much afraid . . .with the generality of

readers the biass CsicJ of the mind will prevail. . . "

(166—7). Then Hume gives the reader a voice:

But tho' this be the only reasonable account. . . I doubt not but my sentiments will be treated by many as extravagant- What! the efficacy of causes lie in the determination of the mind! Cthe reader continues to speak, outlining his objections! I can only reply to all these arguments, that the case is here much the same, as if a blind man shou'd pretend to find a great many absurdities in the supposition, that the colour of scarlet is not the same with the sound of a trumpet, nor light the same with solidity- (167-3)

In the Treati se, the reader is excluded from real dialogue, implicit or explicit; for Hume conveys tfte attitude that he has serious doubts that the reader can

142 follow along at all; and if he does manage a few steps in

the general direction, Hume has no doubt that he will

stumble and fall over some foolish mistake in reasoning.

Indeed, he later points out that the reader can be "led

astray by a false philosophy," which the latter will

certainly do if he doesn't keep Hume's principles in mind

(168). Hume's disregard for the reader is summed up in this

statement, which follows a lengthy stretch of reasoning:

"However extraordinary these sentiments may appear, I think

it fruitless to trouble myself with any further

enquiry. . ." (170).

What can be concluded about Hume's attitude toward the

readers of his two works? First, there is evidence that Hume

is much more aware of his reader in the Enquiry, for he not

only addresses the reader and engages him in dialogue more

frequently, but he also appears to take the reader's

response more into account than he did in the Treatise—

i.e., he is careful to keep his explanations simple and

straightforward for the sake of the audience. In other words, Hume is more rhetorical in the Enquiry; conse­ quently, whole new dimensions of tropology become possible within the work's discourse. Hume can now avail himself of a less agonistic form of dialogue.

Secondly, the new relationship with the reader transforms Hume's ethos. He does not appear as self-assured

143 about his correctness in philosophical stance; or as determined to demolish the stand of anyone who would dare to disagree with him—all attitudes which lend themselves to and which are reflected by heteroglossaic agonism in dis­ course. As a result, Hume the author of the Enquirv is more

"approachable," more amenable to hearing other points of view and voices besides his own and including them within his discourse. He first assumes this attitude toward the reader, and when he does, the generally agonistic character

°"f "t^te Treatise begins to dissolve and is transformed in the

Enquiry into a special kind of dialectics, a dialectics which stems from the ultimate tropological turn to irony

Hume makes in the latter part of the Enquiry.

The Nature of Sections I - VII: A Summary

In the first seven sections of the work, the predominant trope is metonymy, which is rigorously com­ patible with Hume's empirical stance. Very few cases of synecdoche are found, and these are either truncated or resolved finally into an ultimate metonymizing of the material. As for irony, there are many instances of the rudimentary form of dialectics; although Hume occasionally slips into the agonistic stance with philosophical oppo­ nents, but not with the readers. Implied dialogue is used sparingly, and in only one paragraph is there found an instance of true heteroglossia. At the same time, Hume shows

144 evidence of appearing more aware of the limits of his own

line of reasoning, thus giving his discourse in these

sections a generally less agonistic character. Hume's concern for the reader further contributes to the tone of harmony in the Enquirv. Thus, a case can certainly be made

that the changes Hume made in recasting the Treatise, at

least in the first seven sections of the Enquirv. are of a

fundamental literary nature, rather than mere surface embel­

lishments in the service of personal ambition. Certainly the more numerous reader appeals and the overall readability

could be aimed at making the author more popular. However,

that Hume rethinks his approach altogether and reorganizes

the topic in his discourse, thus producing a work more rigorously mono-tropic; and that he begins to abandon the

agonism corresponding to his nominal heteroglossia in favor of a more subtle dialectics argues that he had much more in mind than popular applause. Analysis of the last five sec­ tions of the Enquiry should bear out this conclusion, and provide a decisive answer to the questions posed by this thesis: What is the nature of Hume's style in both Book I of the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry concerni nq

Human Understandi no? How can the differences be accounted for? And what was Hume's intention in recasting the topic of epistemology into the form we find in the Enouirv?

14' Irony as Structure and the Test of Empiricism

Throughout the Enguirv. Hume has emphasized the

importance of not losing sight of the common life. Indeed,

it is apparent that one of his aims is to bring philosophy

closer to the common life, and in the last five sections of

the work, Hume attempts that reconciliation by submitting

his doctrine to the test of dialectics. In the last section,

Hume also attempts to "unite the boundaries" of the

different philosophies, as he claimed he would do in Section

I of the Enquiry. But to put his epistemology to the test

and to "unite the boundaries," Hume must make a shift in

consciousness and organize the data in a different manner

than heretofore; in other words, he must shift to a new trope. Metonymizing the material or organizing it on the basis of the relationships between entities will not serve his new and more complex aim in these sections, nor will these tropes adequately serve the ultimate aims of the

Enguirv: to demonstrate that the basis of human knowledge is not rational and synecdochic, but essentially metonymic, deriving from both phases of experience—sense perception and custom; and to demonstrate that skepticism, a critical stance which claims not only to invalidate all epistemo­ logical systems but common sense as well, actually invalidates i tsel f through internal paradox. HOV'J Hume uses the new trope to /anguish his opponents cdnd validate his

146 metonymic doctrine is another issue that analysis of these last sections will address. Indeed, what these last sections will tell us about Hume's style and intention should provide the last pieces of evidence for answering the questions posed by this thesis.

From the beginning of the Enguirv, it is apparent that

Hume has set himself an opponent; the abstract philos­ ophers. In the first section, Hume's attitude toward these thinkers is well summed up by the famous "brambles" passage in which Hume likens them to robbers who hide among their own brambles in the forest (11). Hume emphasizes the use- lessness of their tenets: not only do such philosophers

"contribute nothing either to the advantage or of society," but they are also subject to the censure of Nature herself, who promotes the "mixed life" (8-9). In fact, Hume declares that in their attempts to discover hidden , the abstract philosophers are delving into topics beyond their intellectual grasp (6). He plans to "destroy the false and adulterate" philosophy of these thinkers (12) and substitute a true philosophy, which is, of course, empirici sm.

Although Hume establishes his opponent in the first section of the Enquiry, he does not fully engage him until

Section VIII, in which he addresses the age-old argument about the "presumed" dichotomy between liberty and

147 necessity. Hume is intent upon demonstrating that the

metonymic principle of constant conjunction is operative in

both necessity and liberty- Man's character/motives and his

subsequent behavior constitute the paradigm of contiguous

successive entities- Common sense comes into the equation

when inferences are drawn regarding motives and actions

after sufficient experience with the constant conjunctions

between those motives and actions- On this basis, Hume

accounts for the concept of necessity, claiming that not

only do the vulgar draw inferences from this experienced

uniformity in human behavior, but the philosophers do the

same thing in their everyday life as well as in their


At this point, after having their viewpoint likened to

that of the vulgar, the abstract philosophers (who have

apparently been listening and are quite eager to speak)

break in with an objection; we know it belongs to Hume's

opponents because it is italicized: "But he may have been

seized with a sudden and unknown frenzy" (91)- Hume

implicitly grants the validity of this objection, for he declares he will "change my suppositions" and subsequently presents a better example on which to base his refutation.

In this selection, we are reminded of the Treatise, in which

Hume more often gives his opponents a chance to speak for themselves-

143 Hume then speculates on why, if men agree about necessity in practice, they find it difficult to verbally acknowledge its validity. Here the opponent's stand is so embedded within Hume's exposition that the viewpoint is given "voice" rather than the opponent: "... men still entertain a strong propensity to believe that they penetrate farther into the powers of nature, and perceive something

like a necessary connection between the cause and the effect" (92). Hume mentions that his principle of "ascribing necessity to the determinations of the will" may "contradict the systems of many philosophers" (93), then proceeds to state, without specifically tagging it, what the opponents may "pretend" to answer. He calls on them to support their claim, as if he knows full well they cannot. Any sense of dialogue is minimized, however, by the embedded nature of the interchange.

When Hume discusses liberty, he again asserts that without the observation of constant conjunction, no idea of cause and effect in human actions could have ever been developed. He assumes an opponent—merely a naysayer—to this doctrine, but does not address him:

Let any one defi ne a cause, without comprehending, as a part of the definition, a necessary connect!on with its effect; and let him show distinctly the origin of the idea, expressed by the definition; and I shall readily give up the whole controversy. But if the foregoing explication of the matter be received, this must be absolutely impracticable. (95-6)

149 We as readers know a controversy has been brewing over this issue because Hume has told us so twice; but as far as actually hearing the opposing voices is concerned, we detect barely a murmur. Instead, we are only aware of the opposing position through Hume's exposition of it.

In the next part of Section XIII, Hume changes his tactics and the sense of dialogue becomes more explicit. It also becomes obvious that a dialogical interchange is con­ trolling the entirety of the section's Part II. Indeed, in the first sentence, Hume confronts the opponents—doubtless the abstract philosophers and religionists—by attacking their reasoning: they "pretend" to refute a hypothesis by saying its consequences are dangerous to morality and religion. He also assumes they will apply this objection to his own argument, so he turns it around on them:

This I observe in general, without pretending to draw any advantage from it. I frankly submit to an examination of this kind, and shall venture to affirm that the doctrines, both of necessity and liberty, as above explained, are not only consis­ tent with morality, but are absolutely essential to its support. (97)

Thus Hume has implicitly set up his own judge and jury, but states at the outset that he will be judged favorably—even by his antagonists! He also extenuates his rather harsh condemnation of the opponents, and further builds a more modest ethos by offering himself for examination- But, after setting up this situation rife with dialogic possibilities,

150 will Hume develop it into a true interchange between the parties?

Again, he explains that all parties agree that

necessity is a property of the will of man- Then he allows

his opponents to object;

The only particular in which arv^ one can differ IS, that either, perhaps he wi11 refuse to give' the name of necessity to this property of human actions: But as long as the meaning is understood, I hope the word can do no harm: Or that he will maintain it possible to discover something farther in the operation of matter- But this, ^ must be acknowledged, can be of no consequence to morality or religion. . . . (97, italics mine)

The opponent is signified generically by "any one" or

"he," and his objections are deftly handled within dialogue

couplets by the newly-modest author. Hume's answer to the

second objection leads to his conclusion that "nothing,

therefore, can be more innocent, at least, than this

CHume'sl doctrine" (97).

The next refutation is much more embedded; in fact, the

opponent is not even mentioned. Hume has just explained that

unless an action proceeds from some cause in a person's character or disposition (i.e., necessity), then he cannot be blamed or praised for it:

According to that principle, therefore, which denies necessity, and consequently causes, a man is as pure and untainted after having committed the most horrid crime, as at the first moment of his birth, nor is his character anywise concerned in his actions, since they are not derived from it. . . . (93)

151 ^ ".V^'U^

In this passage, it seems that Hume is representing the

viewpoint, rather than a specific antagonist; the opposing

viewpoints themselves appear to have taken up position and

are participating in a dialogue.

Hume also claims that without liberty, no

can be assigned a moral quality. Then he says that he ". .

can foresee Csicl other objections, derived from topics

which have not been treated of," and proceeds with a lengthy

summary of the opponent's refutation—the longest (a little

over one full page) we have seen in either the Treatise or

the Enquiry. He introduces this rebuttal with a tag ("It may

be said- - - ."), and even includes some diction which is

obviously foreign to his own:

The ultimate Author of all our volitions is the Creator of the world, who first bestowed motion on this immense machine, and placed all beings in that particular position. - - -the volitions and intentions of a Being infinitely wise and powerful - - - - those imperfections have no place in our Creator- He foresaw, he ordained- - . . (99-100)

The gist of the opponent's argument is that if

necessity rules the actions of men, then the chain of neces­

sity can be traced back through all causes, to the ultimate

cause—the Creator; thus, if man's actions are evil, then the Creator is either responsible for them or they are not evil (since the Creator is all-good)—both absurd conclu­ sions- Therefore, the doctrine from which they are deduced is absurd-

1 ;'-> There, in the foregoing passage, is an unprecedented example of Hume's ability to assume an opponent's position, even reducing his own doctrine to on this opponent's behalf. Such a tactic recalls the implications of

Kenneth Burke's requirement for true irony in discourse: the writer must be able to conceptual i ze—and actually par­ ticipate in all the perspectives concerning the topic under consideration; thus, he will be aware of the limitations of his own argument and his investigation will be more disin­ terested, more thorough, and will more nearly approach the ideal of a rigorously honest analysis. Therefore, if he is truly ironic, a thinker will find it difficult to assume an agonistic stance.

But have we then discovered here the same problem as we found in the Treatise? Is this yet another case of Hume's divided mind? Certainly, he has constructed an accurate fascimile of an idealist argument, even using some of the corresponding terminology- However, he presents this summary merely for the sake of argument, not for support of his own metonymic thesis; indeed, this stretch of discourse is merely part of the series of alternating viewpoints- Nor is

Hume straying, with this topic, into the hills and dales that belong exclusively to the idealists, where he stumbles into rocky topics like infinite divisibility of exten'^ion.

Instead, he has staked out his own terrain and never wanders

15" from its boundaries. Furthermore, there is no evidence that

Hume organizes his material around the idealist trope of

synecdoche. When he ventriloquizes the rationalists, we find

echoes of hierarchy and relationship (between God and man

on a descending scale), but not in Hume's structuring of the

topic as a whole.

Of course Hume will rescue his doctrine, which he has

just savaged in rationalist terms. By answering the

opponents, he is organizing his material in dialogical

terms. But Hume goes even further: he presents his answer

in a dialogical form. First, he provides a full explanation

of the idealist position that all phenomenon basically work

toward the overall good of all beings. He even tags one of

their statements; "Every physical ill, say they, makes an

essential part of this benevolent system. . ." (101). Hume

answers this reasoning by appealing to the everyday life: not only will physical ills destroy the effectiveness of this outlook, but not even a well person can maintain such a conviction, either when his personal fortune or his moral

judgment is concerned- The reader is reminded of Hume's aim of reconciling philosophy and the common life by his questi ons:

Are such remote and uncertain speculations Cof the phi 1osophersl able to counterbalance the sentiments which arise from the natural and imme­ diate view of the objects? . - - why should not the acknowledgement of a real distinction between

154 ^fmi^SZIZZ'

Vice and virtue be reconcileable to all speculative systems of philosophy. . . 7 (102-3)

However, Hume admits that the problem of the Deity's

accountability for moral turptitude does not allow for "so

easy and satisfactory an answer" (103). That he is aware of

his own limitations in argument is obvious; however, Hume

includes all philosophers in his dilemma, apparently urging

modesty upon them al 1—something that may affront his

opponents, although he is careful to address his criticisms

to Philosophy and Reason:

To reconcile Cthese issues! has been found hitherto to exceed all the power of philosophy. Happy, if she be thence sensible of her temerity, when she pries into these sublime mysteries- . . Cshe should1 return, with suitable modesty, to her true and proper province, the examination of common life. . . . (103)

With this last embedded address to the opponent.

Section XIII concludes- Looking back over the section's

discourse, it is obvious that Hume has continually been in £

dialogue with his opponents, the abstract philosophers. In

other words, he has chosen to present the section's content

in the form of an interchange of positions or perspectives.

thus giving it an ironic structure in the Burkean sense-

True enough, a case could be made that there is some

similarity to the Treati se: there are a few isolated

examples of implied and explicit dialogue, as well as

evidence for some attenuated heteroglossia. But Hume has

gone beyond these scattered and embryonic forms of

155 «^

dialogicity in this section of the Enquiry: the discourse

is controlled by dialectics and there is evidence that Hume

is aware of the limits of his own argument.

Furthermore, no material is organized in a

synecdochic fashion in Section XIII. What might have been

developed in a hierarchical scheme of related objects—the

discussion of the role constant conjunction plays in various

disciplines (90)—is handled as a mere listing of conti­

guities. The one suggestion of an idealist principle—that

"nothing exists without a cause to its existence" (95)—

plays a very small role in the argument. Instead, Hume

avoids a conflict in methodology altogether and manages to

reduce two great metaphysical constructs—liberty and neces­

sity—to metonymic terms. He has done this not by mono-

voiced, metonymic exposition, but by putting his doctrine to

the test: he provides the viewpoint of his opponents,

studies his doctrine from their perspective, and finds that

he has the answers to defend his stance. His doctrine of

empiricism is not only essential to the conception of both

liberty and necessity but also required for morality. By

taking this position vis a vis his own discourse, Hume

assumes that role which Ijurke points out as essential to the

true ironist: that of the primus i nter pares, who orches­

trates the varying perspectives, guiding the discussion in

the direction it finally must go.

156 Nor is the reader neglected in this discussion of

liberty and necessity. Although Hume is primarily concerned

about his conversation with the abstract philosophers, he

does make the effort to orient the reader and engage him in

the argument in the section's introductory remarks:

I own that this dispute has been so much canvassed on all hands, and has led philosophers into such a labyrinth of obscure sophistry, that it is no wonder, if a sensible reader indulge his ease so far as to turn a deaf ear to the proposal of such a question, from which he can expect neither instruction nor entertainment. But the state of the argument here proposed may, perhaps, serve to renew his attention; as it has more novelty, promises at least some decision of the controversy, and will not much disturb his ease by any intri­ cate or obscure reasoning. I hope, therefore, to make it appear that ail men have always agreed in the doctrine. - - - (31)

Not only is Hume acutely aware of the possible problems

his readers might have with the subject, but he is concerned

about their "ease-" He smoothly incorporates a modest ethos

by flattering his reader ("the sensible reader") and by

minimizing his ability to solve such large questions ("I

hope. - - to make it appear"). However, there is no real

dialogue with the reader in this section; instead, Hume concentrates on providing a context for the ensuing discussion and on reassuring the auditor- Perhaps he places the reader in the same role here that Pamphilius will later assume in the Di aloques concerninq Natural Reli on.

Taking all these factors into account, then, it is plain that the trope of irony informs the structure of Section VIII- Hume has also made progress toward his goal of harmonizing philosophy with the common life- But it remains to be seen whether Hume will achieve his grand goal: to unite the boundaries of the philosophies-

Section X

In this section, Hume's opponent is apparently a staunch believer in miracles and in the testimony which

supports their validity- Hume, however, feels the need to

establish an argument, once and for all, that will

. . . at least silence the most arrogant biootrv and superstition, and free us from their impertinent solicitations. I flatter myself, that I have dis­ covered an argument of a like nature, which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endures- (110)

Hume extenuates, to a small degree, this display of ostentatious vanity by intimating that his argument might not be altogether sound- However, his of the opponents is reminiscent of his agonistic attitude in the

Treatise- Fortunately for his ethos, he then shifts his approach to the topic—probably because in the eighteenth century, questioning the validity of certain religious topics could result in social problems for an author-

Consequently, Hume does not consistently inform the discourse with a sense of the opponent s presence as he did in the previous section. The reader is, of course, aware of

153 this implicit opponent, in the same way that he would sense the dialogizing background- However, this apparent shift in discursive approach is rendered servicable to Hume's aims as a philosopher and a literary man- For by abandoning the direct dialogical method, Hume is forced to find another means to shape his material- Thus, in this section, the ideas themselves—testimony and reason—appear to take on opposing "positions" in the argument- Furthermore, through this alternation of positions, the ironic dependence of one perspective of the dialectic upon its opponent is demon­ strated- And through this dialectical interchange, Hume is able to test, once again, the validity of his doctrine. In fact, he hints that this is his aim at the outset: he discusses the origin of belief—which is based upon probability, which is in turn based on observation—and its relationship to testimony, peppering the passage with the word "experiment" (110-1); then claims that human testimony and the event testified to are the contiguous components of constant conjunction and are bound together by inference, the offspring of sense perception (observation) and custom.

In spite of this hint- however- the test is not readilv apparent, since Hume's mode of argument takes the form of self—extinguishing paradoxes, which tends to obscure that test and its "results-"

159 The result of the dialectic is that Hume demonstrates

that testimony, the very proof upon which miracles rest, is

itself the means of refuting the validity of miracles (127)-

To achieve this end, Hume at first supports the validity of

testimony at every turn- There is "- . . no species of

reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to

human life. . . ," he says, and declares that testimony

should not be excepted from his doctrine of basing knowledge

on the evidence of experience and constant conjunction (111-

12)- In fact, he states outright that our judgments about

the veracity of testimony are not based on any connection

we perceive a priori between testimony and reality, but are

based on our experience (a posteriori) that they are fre­

quently connected. But Hume subsequently dismantles this


argument by declaring that the relationship between testi­

mony and reality is really a ". . - contest of two opposing

experiences; of which one destroys the other. ..." When the degree of miraculousness is used as a criterion for the validity of testimony, it is cancelled by the opposing stance that testimony is only valid insofar as it reflects reality (113). Further, the very nature of miracles—that they violate the laws of nature—also dictates against their possibility (115). Thus we have the first example of a dialectic of opposing positions, which results in mutual destruction. Hume reinforces the shape he has given

160 :^

these passages by his diction: the corresponding pages are

sprinkled liberally with words and phrases reflective of the

perspectival conflict: "contrariety," "mutual destruction,"

"opposition," "contest of two opposites," "one destroys the

other," and "contradiction." The same kind of diction

appears, albeit with less frequency, throughout Section X.

The second part of the section contains more instances

of this self-extinguishing kind of reasoning: the mind

sometimes affirms a miracle on the basis of that very

circumstance which ought to destroy its authority (117);

testimony asserts the miraculous, but there are an infinite number of witnesses who oppose the validity of the incident

(121); miracles supposed to act as proof for one religion have the inherent ability to destroy a rival system, and this ability in turn destroys the credit of the miracles on which the religion was originally based (121-2). In fact, says Hume, only experience can give authority to human testimony, and it is this same experience which insists on the indisputability of the laws of nature. So, as Hume points out, proof opposes proof. He concludes that when

. - - these two kinds of experience are contrary, we have nothing to do but substract Csicl the one from the other, and embrace an opinion, either on one side or the other, with that assurance which arises from the remainder- But according to the principle here explained, this substraction, with regard to all popular , amounts to entire annihilation- - - - (127)

161 In other words, no testimony can prove the existence of a

miracle or be used as a basis for religion- So Hume has

moved from the position of supporting the validity of

testimony to the contrary stance of completely invalidating

it, and the shape of his discourse so far is one which

reflects the content Hume has been at pains to demonstrate:

contrariety of positions and mutual destruction—almost- For

in the end, one of the positions will rise from the ashes

that resulted from the fiery contest of forces.

What is the significance of this series of self-

extinguishing arguments? Price points out that Hume's

argument about miracles is an "ironic inversion of the

deductive method in logic-" That Hume, an empiricist using

the inductive method, should stand the rationalist method on

its head is not surprising- Nor is the use to which he puts

this inverted method inconsistent with his literary aims, as

can be seen in Price's elaboration:

By temporarily assuming the alleged "truth" Cofl the reasoning which links testimony, miracles, and the Christian religion, Hume was later able to destroy the logic of that "truth" by carrying the logical implications of the propositions concerned to their ultimate limit- . - . The irony is apparent: what better way to undermine an oppo­ nent than to use his own arguments against him. (56)

Price's last statement alludes to the unusual nature of the dialectic taking place in Section X. Hume does not merely answer his opponents: he replies by espotssing their

1 ^'^ position, by assuming their voice, and by using their rhetoric. Each of their assertions—such as the magnitude of

the miracle—he both posits and refutes, by showing the

inherent paradox within the argument- Taking the paradox

further, Hume locates it in those individuals who maintain

faith in miracles, saying that such a person is "- . .

conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which

subverts all his principles of understanding. . ." (131)-

Another of Hume's aims in Part II is to refute the

validity of some wel1-supported miracles, and he uses the

same paradoxical approach: first, he supports the miracle

by citing evidence in its favor and pointing out the

trustworthiness of the testimony; then he shows how the

testimony works against itself in each case. Ergo, mutual

destruction- However, instead of refuting one of the

miracles himself, he lets another author—Cardinal Retz—

take care of that. So, in a sense, Hume takes the position of those who believe in the miracle, and Cardinal de Retz

supports the opposing viewpoint- This treatment of the material, which foreshadows that of the next section, is very similar to literary ventriloquism. But Hume apparently does not put his own words into the Cardinal's mouth; he seems to be summarizing one of the latter's documents and he likely uses this material because it agrees with his own opinion on the affair. Support for this conjecture can be

163 gleaned from Hume's subsequent discussion of another miracle- He uses the same conclusion as the Cardinal—that the impossibility of a miracle is evidence enough for its falsity—and even uses some of the same phraseology about

"just reasoners" (124-5).

Hume also turns to the use of implied dialogue when he

"begCsl the limitations here made may be remarked Cby the readerl" (127): that there might be exceptions to the rule that miracles can never be proven from testimony- Ironically recognizing the limitations of his own argument, Hume gives two examples, the first of which would be an exception- It is in the second example, in which a supposed claim that

Queen Elizabeth rose from the dead is examined, that Hume begins a tagged dialogue with persons who can only be the believers in miracles that he mentioned at the beginning of the section- "I should only assert Cher death! to have been pretended," Hume declares, "and that it neither was, nor possibly could be real-" The opponent then replies through

Hume's diction:

You would in vain object to me the difficulty, and almost impossibility of deceiving the world in an affair of such consequence; the wisdom and solid judgment of that renowned queen; with the little or no advantage which she couid reap from so poor an artifice- . - . but I would still reply, that the knavery and folly of men are such common phenomenon, that I should rather believe the most extraordinary events to arise from their concrr- rence, than admit of so signal a violation of the laws of nature- (123)

164 This passage is interesting from two standpoints. First of all, Hume has constructed a tripartite exchange with his opponent about a purely hypothetical situation. Secondly, he has put words into the mouth of his opponent to defend what appears to be an absurd claim. Why does Hume do this? I would hazard a guess that he has found a subtle way of refuting the ultimate miracle: the resurrection of Christ.

He apparently felt he could not do this directly, so he spoke of the reappearance of Queen Elizabeth after three years (note the number) of supposed death. If this is so, then Hume's earlier ironic modesty takes on a new shading.

Does he admit that his argument has exceptions as a DIOV to detract from the subsequent bombshell?

As Hume continues with this line of argument, we begin to see how he tests his e/npirical doctrine through the self- extinguishing dialectics in this section. He says that if an argument like that about Queen Elizabeth should be applied to a new religion, men of sense would immediately detect its falsity. Even attributing it to the Deity would not solve our problem, because we know no more about this Being than what we observe of his works, i.e., nature. From this comment, it is immediately apparent that Hume is privileging his own doctrine, and the metonymizing of the topic also becomes obvious with the next statement:

This still reduces us to past observation, and obliges us to compare the instances of the violation of truth in the testimonv of men, with those of the violation of the laws of nature by miracles, in order to judge which of them is most likely and probable. As the violations of truth are more common in the testimony concerning reli­ gious miracles. . . this must diminish verv much the authority of the former testimony, and'make us form a general resolution, never to lend any attention to it. . . . (129, italics mine)

Thus, sense perception, observation, and experience

with nature's laws are the ultimate authorities to which we

must appeal. Throughout Section X, Hume has been putting two

positions in opposition, and the two positions finally

annihilate each other completely. How does this test Hume's

doctrine? As he said above, since testimony is still based

on the senses, and we cannot rely on the veracity of other

men, our only resort is our own senses and our own experi­

ence. Appealing to the common sense of everyday life (and

thus bringing philosophy and the common life closer to­

gether), Hume finally leads us to the conclusion that we can

give credence to only one of the conflicting positions:

that a miracle cannot be validated since it breaks the laws

of nature. Of course our understanding of nature and its

laws is ultimately derived from observation by the senses

and experience. In other words, Hume's empirical doctrine

emerges victor from the clash of perspectives.

Indeed, Hume foreshadows this very conclusion at the

beginning of Section X. He confirms Tillotson's argument against presence, which says that the authority of scripture and tradition is founded "... merely in the testimony of the apostles, who were eye-witnesses to those miracles of our Savior, by which he proved his divine mission" (109). Hume reveals his position regarding the authority of the senses as opposed to that of testimonv:

Our evidence, then, for the truth of the Christian religion is less than the evidence for the truth of our senses; because, even in the first authors of our religion, it was no greater; and it is evident it must diminish in passing from them to their disciples; nor can any one rest such confi­ dence in their testimony, as in the immediate object of his senses. But a weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger; and therefore, were the doctrine of the real presence ever so clearlv revealed in the scripture, it were directly con­ trary to the rules of just reasoning to give our assent to it. (103)

Here Hume has stated his position outright, and in metonymic terms. He could have continued with this trope, organizing the material and examples one after another according to its template. But infinitely more effective was his choice of dialectical irony as the trope of his dis­ course, for through this trope he is able to demonstrate how the two opposing positions undercut each other to the point of near mutual annihilation, thus effectively clearing the field for the triumphant advent of empiricism-

Section XI

In "Cf a Particular Providence and a Future State,"

Hume's irony takes vet another turn. His purpose in this section is to refute critics who say that his denial ot a

167 Divinity will result in the moral degradation of humanity.

To make his point, he constructs a very explicit dialogue, a sort of mini-maloques concerning Natural Religion, whose dialectics controls the entire structure of the section.

Indeed, Hume says at the outset that he wishes to recount a

"conversation" he had with a friend and submit its content to the reader's, judgment. Thus, the reader has been engaged for the duration, although no direct appeals are made to him again unless the reader can be considered as participating

in the role of a member in the Athenian audience. A non- agonistic tone is established by the polite diction of the two principle interlocutors: "I wish," Hume says to his friend, "you would try your eloquence upon so extraordinary a topic. ..." His friend replies, "And if you please, I shall suppose myself . . ." (134). However, this polite tone is not consistently maintained when "Epicurus" makes his harangue to the Athenian assembly.

Hume claims that it is the "free opposition of sentiments and argumentation" that makes philosophy flourish, and this stance—so different from the agonistic one in the Treatise—is reflected in the content and structure of Section XI. In fact, with its interplay of two perspectives, this section takes the ultimate dialectical form: that of a drama. The dramatic protocol is followed, with the two characters speaking in turn. Their dialogue is

163 tagged, and each explains his position in full. The sense of drama is even more heightened by Hume's use of phraseology compatible with the "setting": "O ve

Athenians," "I come hither," "origin and government of worlds," "public good," and "tradition of your forefathers,

and doctrines of your priests," as well as frequent refer­ ence to "the ." (This ancient diction may also serve to extenuate the harshness of Hume's arguments against providence and the .) However, since the two

"characters" speak in two dialects which are virtually indistinguishable, it is apparent that the dialogue does not qualify as true heteroglossia as recognized by Bakhtin.

Instead of precisely differentiating two voices, dialogicity informs the structure of the discourse.

Hume adopts a fascinating rhetorical stance in Section

XI. First of all, he takes the position which is the opposite of his true sentiments. He is obviously acting as the devil's advocate when he remarks that certain doctrines will "loosen" morality (133-4), a stand which he had stigmatized as "blameable" in Section VIII. Secondly, Hume creates a "friend" to express his own ideas, who takes the position that the doctrine under debate is actually neces­ sary to morality; Hume earlier took the position that his doctrine about liberty and necessity is necessary to morality. Hume also speaks througn a hypothetical persona,

169 *S.^5._

in a type of ventriloquism which ultimately controls the

direction of the dialogue. So again, Hume is the primus

Inter pares, but this time he is disguised. Thirdly, this

mouthpiece presents an oration that has unmistakable echoes

of Plato's Apology.

Why does Hume set such an elaborate dialectical stage?

I think the answer is that by allowing his "friend" to speak

for him, and by the two of them assuming the personae,

respectively, of Epicurus and that philosopher's Athenian

opponents, Hume gains double distance from his own arguments

and appears more objective. Since the eminently wise

Socrates was unjustly accused and sentenced to death, Hume

also gains persuasive value for himself and his ideas by

identifying them with ' speech before the Athenian

assembly. Furthermore, this setup gives Hume another chance

to put his position to the test. This time he allows the

hypothetical persona to address his own antagonists and Hume

himself directly attacks his own doctrines in the role of

his opponents. Within the context, then, of the dialectic

between Hume and his friend, another argument is implied:

that between Hume and the abstract philosophers/reli­

gionists; and Hume is apparently undercutting his own

position, in order to confirm it. The discourse seems to

turn back on itself in repeating loops, as if Hume is decori-

structing his own argument.

170 •' n" / '

In the first part of Section XI, Hume and his "friend"

assume the roles, respectively, of the Athenian audience and

Epicurus. Ironically, the so-called Epicurus talks exactly

like Hume in his speech to his "accusers," the Athenian

assembly: he discusses the claims of the "religious philos­

ophers," who are rash enough to try establishing religion on

principles of reason. These philosophers claim, according to

Epicurus, that the order and arrangement of the universe

reflects a greater intelligence, i.e., a creator, an argu­

ment which takes the form of reasoning from effect to cause.

Epicurus' purpose is to refute this argument, which is cast

in synecdochic terms. That it is a synecdochic construction

is obvious in three ways: (1) An integral part of the

argument is the supposition of a hierarchy with a relation­

ship between the elements of that hierarchy, and (2) an

implicit part of the argument is that the order in the world

is representative of the Creator or his mind, and (3) the

reasoning moves from the world of sense to a

one, which movement is opposite to that metonymy would take.

Thus, in this part of the section, through his "friend"

Epicurus, Hume is undercutting the synecdochic assertion of

his opponents. To achieve his aim, "Epicurus" analyzes the

synecdochic notion of the Deity, which is derived by the

rationalist appraoch to knowledge: man has

and to think accurately, idealists claim, and he will

171 ':1 <:!C

discover truth. But Epicurus counters with a metonymic

refutation which says, in effect, "No, look at the world

outside you if you wish to know." He asserts that the cause

must be proportioned to the effect, when he applies it to

the conception of the Deity, and the metonymic nature

of this principle becomes obvious. The characteristics of

this divinity must be suited to the "appearances" of nature,

which has been created by him. Supposing he has any attri­

butes beyond those which we can infer by observing his

effects in nature apparently launches the reasoner into the

"fairy land" Hume mentioned in Section VII. The same mistake

occurs when religious philosophers infer further effects

from the cause they have originally derived from effects.

This metonymic refutation is summed up in the following

remark, which Epicurus addresses to the Athenian assembly:

You forget, that Cthe Deity's! superlative intelligence and benevolence are entirely imagi­ nary, or, at least, without any foundation in reason; and that you have no ground to ascribe to him any qualities, but what you see he has actually exerted and displayed in his productions. Let your gods, therefore, O philosophers, be suited to the present appearances of nature. . . . (133)

Then Epicurus sets up, in the context of his address

to the assembly, a mock dialogue with the third-person

opponents whom he calls "philosophers." This dialogue is

tagged: Epicurus "asks" them questions, relate'^ their

answer ("If they tell me. . . .">, snd answers them ("I

still insist- . . ."). Of course the hypothetical Athenian

•I T-t audience surely knows that they are the "philosophers"

Epicurus mentions- However, this direct, agonistic confron­

tation with opponents who were earlier called "furious

antagonists" (134) is softened somewhat by Epicurus'

consistent reference to them in the third person. The con­

frontation with the opponents is much more disguised and

embedded, and embodies more deference to the opponents'

viewpoint than the frontal approaches in the Treatise.

However, Epicurus is not always so subtle with his audience,

as will be seen.

The dialogue continues, and Epicurus admits, with an

ironic awareness of his own limitations, that one of the

opponents' conjectures may indeed account for certain pheno­

menon—although he does question its premise. He even allows

that the "religious hypothesis," in a limited way, can be

considered ". . -a particular method of accounting for

the visible phenomena of the universe. . . " <139). but

here he abandons his third—person address for the second

person, and reiterates his admonishment about reason ir;n from

effects to cause to effects. Although Epicurus here abandons

all pretense and blatantly argues with his opponents, the

Athenian assembly, he still couches his refutations in such polite and concessionary phraseology as "I acknowledge," and

"I am sensible of," which helps to extenuate the following sarcastic remarks about the opponents' "imaginings" and

"gross sophisms" and "fallacies."

As to the nature of this "speech," it can be labeled an

example of implied dialogue ("Epicurus" with his "audi­

ence"), in which the dialogue is usually tagged, but in

which there is no heteroglossia. However, in this most

fascinating and complex part of the drama, Hume has actually

constructed a dialogue within a dialogue, which interpene­

trates the several layers of disguise:


is speaking through his "friend" who loves skeptical


who is speaking through the Epicurus persona

who is addressing the Athenian assembly

(which is also Hume's mask)

which has been given the

mask of the "philosophers"

who are really Hume's opponents twice-removed

There is an actual dialogue going on here, lur'ing behind the manifest dialogue of the masks. Hume's opponents

are twice—removed, but Hume himself is thrice-removed from the actual dialogue, and the complexity of disguise seems almost to make it possible for the two layers of dialogue— actual and manifest—to interrogate one another as to the nature of their relationship with each ottser. And yet, this whole complex of disguises and dialogues resolve itself

1 / ^ into one person, Hume, who is merely having a dialogue with himself.

Hume is intellectually versatile enough—indeed, he is

i_ronic enough—to represent his opponent's viewpoint, even

to act as an advocate for it. He can construct a synecdochic

position for the sake of argument and give his opponents a

fair hearing through his own exposition of it. This new

attitude toward the antagonist, so obvious in the Enguirv.

stands in direct contrast with his agonistic treatment of

the opponent in the Treatise: in the latter work, usually

his opponent barely had a chance to speak before Hume cut

him off with a terse dialogue couplet. Thus, although the

present dialogue lacks heteroglossia, it certainly does not

lack perspectival richness. Indeed, we have a dialogue of

the tropes in this section, a dialogue of two intellectual

constructions of reality, and the dynamics of this high-

order dialectical constellation is managed by one man.

Again, this is not reflective of the divided mind Hume

exhibited in the Treati se. On the contrary, Hume uses

dialectical irony in these passages to test his own position as an empiricist—as will be seen.

Following this speech with its implied dialogue, the frame dialogue is resumed. Ths tv^o interlocutors drco their masks and the dialogue's author (Hume himself) tells his

"friend who loves sceptical paradoxes" that ". . . you

175 neglect not the artifice of the demagogues of old. . . you

insinuate yourself into my favour by embracing those prin­ ciples, to which, you know, I have always expressed a

particular attachment" (142). In reality, Hume is accusing himself of artifice and demagoguery- Then Hume and his

"friend" rehash the same topic, with Hume taking the side of

the rationalists. Each interlocutor delivers a polite,

tagged mini-speech in turn. However, Hume's speeches are

delivered with more awareness of the other party, for he

addresses questions to his interlocutor and calls him "you."

The "friend," on the other hand, merely defends and explains

his doctrine. Hume's talent for dialectical irony is most

obvious in this dialogue, for he ironically poses an argu­

ment against himself and says that ". . . it may be possible

to refute this reasoning, which you have put into the mouth of Epicurus" (142, italics mine). Indeed, he declares that he can use his friends argument and apply it to the opposing position:

But allowing you to make experience. . . the only standard of our judgment concerning this, and all other questions of fact; I doubt not but, from the very same experience, to which you appeal, it may be possible to refute this reasoning, which you have put into the mouth of Epicurus. (143)

In other words. Hume can turn his own argument aaamst himself! This talent for viewing his own position from the perspective of another has been obvious throughout this section. It is present when Hume objects thst his Friend's

17£i metonymically based reasoning is harmful to morals. Also, that irony pervades Hume s defense of the argument from , which he conducts while he's "wearing" the mask of the Athenian audience, cannot escape the reader familiar with Hume's works. In the Dialogues concerning Natura-I

Religion, Hume's persona, Philo, does exactly the reverse in attacking Cleanthes, who espouses the argument from design.

Price says that in the Enguirv. Hume is ". , . professing, in an ironic mode, to treat of religious concepts seriously"

(57)- But Hume cannot maintain the pose for long. At the end of the section, he takes his own argument from his

"friend's" mouth and proceeds to expound on it, quite as if

Hume himself had never assumed any other stance. He picks the one point he and his friend had agreed upon—the validity of proceeding from effect to cause—and refutes it.

Again, the argument extinguishes itself.

Hume begins this section by stating that his friend proposed many principles of which Hume "could by no means approve" (133). He then proceeds to put into his friend's mouth arguments of which he obviously does approve. Why does Hume do this? To save himself from ostracism? To appear to take the arguments of the religionists seriously^' Perhaps all of these reasons and one more: perhaps Hume was persuaded that he could best examine his argument from another perspective; that by removing himself from it and

177 putting its premises in the mouth of another, he could spy out its limitations. In other words, Hume's conception of truth was changing and taking this perspective was helpful to him in discovering that truth. By assuming this position vis a vis his argument, Hume shows an ironic awareness or consciousness of the form of his argument, in much the same fashion as Hayden White has suggested. White explains that man's attempt to grasp the data of reality takes the form of a dialectic in our consciousness among the four master tropes, as we try first one, then another way of shaping our data into a meaningful form. But "our discourse," White says, "always tends to slip away from our data towards the structures of consciousness with which we are trying to grasp them. . . " (6). That this tendency is applicable to

Hume's use of irony becomes apparent upon reading White's discussion of the shift by the human consciousness from the synecdochic construal of reality to the ironic mode. In making this turn. White finds that the shift to the new form of consciousness makes it possible for him, as a thinking human being,

Cto viewl the extent to which this taxonomic operation Csynecdochic construal1 fails to take account of certain features of the elements thus classified and, in an even more sophisticated move, Cto J try to determine the extent to whii- h my own taxonomic system is as much a product of my own need to organize reality in this way ratf.ei than in some other as it is ot the objective reality of the elements nreviousiv identified. '6)

17{ Did Hume try the dialogue format, and cast himself as his own opponent, in the hope of better "grasping" his subject or better presenting it to his audience? His inclination toward the ironical suggests that he did.

Not only is Hume able to obtain a better grasp on the subject through irony, but he is also able put his empirical doctrine to the test- This time, however, the test is even more elaborate and sophisticated—with its dramatic compo­ nents and layers of disguise—than in the previous section.

To understand how the test works, we must first ask what

Hume is trying to establish with this labyrinthine drama? In the first place, he wants to prove that the argument from design is not valid, an argument which must be dealt with before proceeding to the second one: that a lack of belief in a deity, and thus in providence and the afterlife, is not detrimental to morality. Hume reduces both these arguments to sense perception and custom, but he does it through dialectics.

The first argument is handled in both Epicurus' speech and in the dialogue between Hume and his friend. In the first case, Epicurus does not merely explain his doctrine; instead, he sets up an implicit dialogue with his opponents.

The whole thrust of his argument is that further effects

(attributes of the Deity) cannot be inferred from a cause

(the Deitv) which has alreadv been inferred from effects

179 (His works). Although he disagrees with this reasoning,

Epicurus does not fail to state the objections his opponents would make, were they to speak; nor does he fail to answer them. When Hume and his friend discuss the same subject, the former brings up still other objections; which must, in turn, be answered. Thus, the question is settled once and for all, and with all possible opponent objections answered.

The next question is whether the Deity does, indeed, exist in the way the opponents conceive. The answer, of course, is that the conception of the Deity must be suited to "appearances" in nature: a metonymic argument -mich

Epicurus traps his opponents into admitting as a consequence of the argument from design. The Deity, then, cannot have any power, benevolence, or intelligence beyond that which we find evidence for in his workmanship: furthermore, philos­ ophers cannot infer new effects from the Deity to whom thev have wrongly attributed greater qualities than those which are consistent with his workmanship. Thus, providence and a future state are not questions which can be reasonably entertained, and the opponents are forced to accept a conception of the Deity which is a considerable reduction from the synecdochic conception.

The crux of the problem is finally reached in the dialogue between F-!ume and his friend- The difficulty brings us back, full circle, to the empiricist doctrines- First

J. 1_>V.' of all, we have no experience of the Deity, as Hume's friend explains:

The Deity is known to us only by his productions, and is a single being in the universe, not compre­ hended under any species or genus, from whoEe experienced attributes or qualities, we can, by analogy, infer any attribute or ouality in him. (144)

We are reminded by this passage of Hume s three relations and can see that none of them are at the heart of such knowledge of the Deity. Nor does Hume forget the common life, which he has been at pains to reconcile with philos­ ophy, when he proceeds with his metonymyzing of religious subjects:

All the philosophy, therefore, in the world, and all the religion, which is nothing but a species of philosophy, will never be able to carry us beyond the usual course of experience, or give us measures of conduct and behavior different from those which are furnished by reflections on common life- (146)

Hume's friend pushes this position to the ultimate metonymic conclusion, not only denying any supernatural knowledge of the Deity, but he also metonymizes the entire subject of providence and a future state to the point where it can no longer be discussed:

It is only when two speci es of objects are found to be constantly conjoined, that we can infer the one from the other; and were an effect preservted, which was entirelv' singular, and could not be comprehended under any linown species, i do net see, that we couid form any conjecture ar infer­ ence at all concerning its cause. If e:;perience and observation and analogy be, indeed, the oniy guides which we can reasonably follow i rs

191 inferences of this nature; both the effect and cause must bear a similarity and resemblance to other effects and causes, which we know, and which we hrive found, in many instances, to be conjoined with each other. (148)

Hume then remarks that he will ". . . leave it to your Cthe opponent's! own reflection to pursue the consequences of this principle." But this is merely polite phraseology, for the consequences are obvious. It has been agreed all along by both parties that experience, observation, and analogy are the basis of reasoning in the argument from design; and

if the religious philosophers do, indeed, pursue the conse­ quences, they will find themselves in the of the atheists- For if the subject must be pursued only on empiri­ cal terms, as Hume has demonstrated it must (from the assumptions fundamental to the argument from design)« then the thing the idea represents does not exist.

The second point Hume wished to make—that moral behavior does not depend on belief in the Deity—is handled in Epicurus' implicit dialogue with his opponents. Me declares that it is not providence which controls events and in the world, but T.an s experience of the course of events and the consequences attending his behavior and character (140). However, Hume, in his final remari:^ to his iriend, supports the opposite viewpoint, ^nd the friend is not given a chance to refute it (147^. Why Hume dots this is open to conjecture. It is possible that he wii shed to appear

18: consistent in his persona and role in the drama. It is also possible that he wished to extenuate the impact of the remarks on the Deity's existence which followed.

Although the two dialogues (Epicurus and the

"philosophers"; Hume and his friend) are devised to test the validity of empiricism, the opponents are given a "fair hearing" throughout and are not agonistically dismissed. How much more convincing, yet how much more thorough, rigorous, and intellectually honest is such a dialectically ironic examination of the subject- Hume has at the same time broadened his scope and recognized his limitations; he has joined the community of thinkers as one of them, not as the scolding, rather condescending iconoclast he conceived himself to be in the Treati se. This new tone argues for a more intellectually sophisticated and facile t^riter who has lost none of his intellectual vigor; it does not argue for a mere extension of the vanity and of the youthful author of the Treati se. Judging merely from the form Hume gives this section, I assert that it is unlikely that Hume revised the Treati se merely for the sake of gaining public applause or readability. If these were his motivations, their effect is greatly diminished by the greater literary and philosophical aims he had in mind vihen he wrote the


Rn Part XII

In the last section of the Enquirv. entitled "Of the

Academical or Sceptical Philosophy," Hume comes to the end of his inquiry and resolves the conflict between the abstract philosophers and his own epistemology. He also introduces a new contender in the ongoing argument—the skeptics. These thinkers play a critical role in Hume's dialectical test of his empirical position, since they main­ tain that no avenue for obtaining knowledge is valid. Hume's approach with these opponents is to pit the skeptics against both the abstract philosophers and the positivists, allowing these positions to cancel each other and leave the field open for his own contest with the skeptics. In fact, Hume makes good use of the role playing and masking tactics he developed in Part XI. Finally, in the dialectical process of testing his doctrine, Hume finds a way to "unite the boundaries" of all philosophies and reconcile them with the common life. The result is a more cogent literary approach and a more consistent philosophical stance, which are byproducts of a more mature and sophisticated thinker.

From the beginning of the section, Hume makes it plain that the skeptics are not only the enemies of "all divines and graver philosophers," but are adherents to a position with which he finds little agreement. Although Hume

134 supported the skeptical stance in the Treatise of Human

Nature, he demonstrates skepticism of this position in the

Enquiry. For Hume maintains that the skeptics are really incapable of maintaining their philosophical stance, which is also totally useless; indeed, he questions their very existence, based on their own position; ". . . it is certain," he says, "that no man ever met with any such absurd creature, or conversed with a man, who had no opinion or principle concerning any subject, either of action or speculation" (149).

Hume, of course, means the extreme skeptics, and in spite of his antagonism to this position, he modestly

"confesses" that if this extreme skepticism is moderated, it is quite useful in philosophical - The reason for his antagonism becomes clearer, however, when he says that:

E'^en our very senses are brought into dispute by a certain species of philosophers; and the maxims of common life are subjected to the same doubt as the most profound principles or conclusions of metaphysics and theology- As these paradoxical tenets (if they may be called tenets) are to be met with in some philosophers- - - they naturally excite our , and make us enquire into the arguments, on which they may be founded- (151)

The skeptics tread on sacred ground when they bring the senses into doubt, and launch missiles against experience and the common life- Hume, of course, must test his position against this pyrrhonist doctrine to resolve the issue and to

13! finally establish the "true metaphysics," as he promised in

Part I of the Enquiry-

Hume begins with a rather embedded exchange in which the "remarks" are not tagged. He recounts the skeptical doctrines and the "trite" examples skeptics use as support for their position. Hume replies, with an awareness of his own argument's limitations, that the more profound arguments against the senses "admit not of so easy a solution." Before he can solve the problem, however, Hume must explain the background of these profound arguments. He outlines the accepted philosophical doctrine that our senses convey to us only the images of objects, representations of objects which are independent of the senses: "These are the obvious dictates of reason; and no man who reflects, ever doubted, that the existence, which we consider, when we say, thi s house and that tree, are nothing but perceptions in the mind. . . " (152).

So "a little philosophy" results in contradicting the instincts of the common life, in which men—and even animals—consider that the images conveyed by their senses are svnonvmous with the objects themselves. Hume cannot be pleased with this development, which forces him to

"contradict or depart from the primary instincts of nature," since his aim is to reconcile the common life with

136 philosophy. In spite of that, he affirms the position at this point.

However, the philosophers Cpresumably the positivists! do not have long to wait before Hume asserts the fallacies in their position. Instead of agonistically confronting them, however, he lets the skeptics discharge the ammunition. At this point, Hume seems to assume the role of the skeptics, for when he outlines their objections, he omits dialogue tags and the diction remains unchanged. If

Hume is ventri1oguizing the skeptics, then it is without using their dialect. Three telling refutations are pre­ sented, the first of which undercuts the basic assumption of the argument: how can it be proven that the images in the mind are, indeed, caused by external objects and not by

something else like the energy of the mind or by the action of some "invisible and unknown spirit" (153)? In the second refutation, Hume questions how it can be determined if external objects produce the perceptions? The answer, of course, is through experience and Hume's old standby doctrine: constant conjunction. In this argument, we are reminded of Hume's refutation of the argument from design in

Section XI:

It is a guestion of fact, whether the perceptions of the senses be produced by external objects, resembling them: how shall this guestion be determined? By experience, surely. . . But here experience is, and must be entirely silent. The mind has never anything present to it but the

137 perceptions, and cannot possibly reach any experience of their connexion with objects. The supposition of such a connexion is, therefore, without any foundation in reasoning. (153)

Since we have only one object—our images—we cannot infer anything about the supposed counterpart, the actual object represented by the images; thus, we have no evidence concerning the qualities of the latter and the basis of our knowledge breaks down.

In this passage, Hume proposes his own doctrine—on behalf of the skeptics—as a refutation of the skeptics' opponents- This is an interesting tactic, since Hume has already made it clear that he opposes these extreme skeptics- However, as will be seen, Hume will reconcile his position with that of the skeptics, by modifying their doctrine and revealing the skeptical nature of his own-

Hume follows these refutations with a tagged implicit dialogue, in which he, in the character of a skeptic, speaks directly to his opponents, the positivist defenders, and the former is shown to triumph. So once again, Hume has demonstrated his ability to distance himself sufficiently from his own viewpoint to "get inside" his opponent's perspective and see its valid points. He even declares that

"this is a topic, therefore, in which the profounder and more philosophical sceptics will always triumph. . . "

(153). Not apparent at all, at this Doint, is the agonism of the Treati se. It is this new tone which gives the reader

133 confidence that Hume is truly testing his own doctrine, not merely going through an exercise which is transparently parti san.

That Hume takes his skeptical role seriously and wishes to represent it fully is obvious in the next few passages, even though he complains that these skeptical reasonings "so little serve. . - any serious purpose" (154). Contemporary philosophers, Hume explains, hold that the "sensible qualities" of matter, such as color and texture, do not exist in the objects, but only in the mind- Having set forth the positivist position, Hume again ventriloquizes the skeptics: if this is true of secondary qualities, then it is also true of primary characteristics such as extension and solidity, since our ideas of the latter are derived from the former. Berkeley's attempt to rescue the primary qualities with his doctrine of abstraction is explained and refuted by Hume. Thus, he demonstrates that the skeptical reasoning has led to an irreducible conflict, which indeed undermines the skeptic himself!

Bereave matter of all its intelligible gualities, both primary and secondary, you in a manner anni­ hilate it, and leave only a certain unknown, inexplicable something, as the cause of our perceptions; a notion so imperfect, that no sceptic will think it worth while to contend against it- (155)

By this time, Hume is back in his own character and he also shows how the skeptical doctrine concerning perceptual

189 images and the actual objects results in an irreducible contradiction between natural instinct and reason- So by assuming the role of the skeptic, and demonstrating his triumphs in argument against both the positivist position and natural instinct, Hume has paradoxically shown how untenable the skeptical principles are. Indeed, he says that these philosophers manage to destroy reasoning through their reason, summing up his analysis of their paradoxical conditior

Furthermore, as a consequence of his dialectical approach,

Hume has deconstructed the argument regarding the evidence of the senses, showing first how the common life instincts are invalidated by the philosophers; then how these positivists are refuted by the skeptics; then how the skeptics undermine themselves! Those skeptics, who attempt to introduce universal doubt about every topic—even matters of fact—are left with nothing to argue about, and we are reminded of Hume's earlier remark that it is not possible to meet or converse with such an "absurd creature" as a skeptic, who has no opinion or principle concerning any subject- Again, how can a person of such dubious existence possibly devise a serious or useful doctrine? It certainly would not be useful to a man whose aims are to reconcile common life with philosophy and to "unite the boundaries" of the philosophies: certainly goals which promote social harmony through the clash of dialectics- It appears that

190 Hume has a hidden agenda: use the skeptics to refute the abstract philosophers while undermining them at the same time, thus leaving the field clear to plant the banner of empirici sm.

As the "dialogue" continues, the skeptics try to

"voice" objections to the abstract philosophers' (metaphy­ sicians and geometricians) analysis of the ideas of time and space, which are obviously in conflict with common sense.

Here it is apparent that Hume is taking the part of the skeptics, in spite of his invalidation of their position

just paragraphs before: first, his diction indicates that he is speaking condescendingly in either the character of the skeptics or himself: second, he declares that the idealist doctrines "shock common sense," and common sense is the outgrowth of experience (with its two components, sense perception and custom); third, we have seen Hume's lengthy refutation of the doctrine of the infinite divisibility of extension in the Treati se. It is likely, though not conclusive from the textual evidence, that Hume has assumed the character of the skeptic, and thus his agonistic diction has been softened through the filter of the mask.

In spite of apparently siding with the skeptics, however, Hume declares that "these seemingly absurd opinions

Cabout infinite divisibility of extensionl are supported by a chain of reasoning, the clearest and most natural. . . "

191 (156). But however clear the chain of reasoning, the conclusions are full of contradiction, as Hume demonstrates with examples. He concludes that even without the skeptical cavils, these abstract reasonings have thrown

Reason herself into amazement (157). So the abstract philos­ ophers have ended with the same snarl of contradiction between reason and common sense as the skeptics. Apparently, neither doctrine is valid, for when Reason is finally driven by these philosophical paradoxes to skepticism, she finds no safe harbor; for skepticism, too, is reduced to absurdity:

"... nothing can be more sceptical, or more full of doubt and hesitation," Hume says, "than this scepticism itself, which arises from some of the paradoxical conclusions of geometry or the science of quantity" (153).

So far, within the context of this argument, Hume apparently has not taken an overt position; instead, he has espoused the abstract philosophers and skeptics in turn, letting the parties debunk each other until they are left with nothing but a hopeless debacle of contradiction- This tactic is well suited to Hume's literary purpose, for he is both less agonistic and more effective in espousing empiricism- But this less agonistic stance, although a natural concomitant of the doctrinal "test," is merely icing on the cake; for however much he may have distanced himself from the argument, he still has managed to invalidate the

192 stand of the abstract philosophers—which is in conflict with that of common sense—on infinite divisibility of time

and space-

Hume then turns to the skeptical objections to the reasonings on matters of fact, which touch upon his own

doctrine quite intimately- Here he enters the ring himself,

and spars with the skeptics, whom he now identifies as

pyrrhonists- To invalidate the common sense maxims, the

skeptics point out the weaknesses in common sense reasoning;

for example, the contradictory opinions held on a subject by

people in different nations and times, or even the contra­

dictions within a single person- However, Hume discounts

these objections as "weak," for since we cannot exist

without reasoning on the basis of common sense every moment

of our lives, any of the objections "- - . derived from

thence, must be insufficient to destroy that evidence"

(153). Indeed, the ". . . great subverter of pyrrhoni sm. . .

is action, and employment, and the occupations of common

life" (153—9) and even the skeptics themselves, once they

leave their studious retreats, cannot help but live

according to common sense principles. So Hume invalidates the skeptics by pointing out the ephemeral nature of their position, which they cannot even maintain in the face of experience: their skeptical principles "vanish like smoke"

(159) when confronted by everyday life. Thus Hume upholds

193 the validity of common sense, an integral part of his own doctrine.

Before administering the final blow to the skeptics,

Hume admonishes them to confine themselves to their philos­ ophical objections rather than trying to invalidate the maxims of the common life. Hume summarizes the principles on which these philosophical objections are based, and the reader soon realizes that he is listing those very precepts he has been at pains to demonstrate throughout the Enquiry: 14 those which are the basis of his empiricism. Here Hume tacitly admits to being a skeptic—albeit a much more moderate skeptic than a pyrrhonist—and the reader realizes for the first time that Hume's doctrine incorporates a skeptical component, an unexpected twist which demonstrates a high degree of ironic awareness on Hume's part. But what is the nature of this moderate skepticism? Hume is appar­ ently a positivist; indeed, he has applied his positivism rigorously to arrive at his doctrine of empiricism: he rejected all other philosophical explanations of the necessary connection, yet assumed a skepticism about posi­ tivism itself since it could not account for the causal link. That Hume's empirical doctrine is thus a combination of positivism and a non-positivistic component (custom)

(common sense) is the result of Hume's ironic awareness of the limitations of his own position and of his whole

194 investigation of epistemology. Thus, it seems apparent that

Hume's doctrine has been formulated by a man who can 15 comprehend the multiple perspectives of an issue and arrive at some impartial conclusions about the validity of these contending viewpoints—including his own.

The contrast with the Hume of the Treatise could not be greater. Seeing Hume in this new light, it is difficult to believe that he rewrote the Treatise merely for the sake of public applause. On the contrary, Hume has revealed to us, through his discourse, the intellectual journey he has made in the years since he wrote the original Treatise: a journey from the confrontational, agonistic partisan for empiricism who, nevertheless, sometimes undercuts his metonymic discourse with the trope favored by idealists; to the generally polite and conversational inquirer who is skeptical of his own skepticism and who puts his combined doctrine of mitigated skepticism to a dialectical test to ensure its validity. The change in the discourse is not confined to superficial revisions which will appeal to the reader and improve Hume's ethos. Instead, the author does indeed appear more modest and less agonistic; and the work is, indeed, much more appealing to the generality of readers because abstruse topics were either abbreviated or elim— inated altogether; but these changes have been elaborated as a result of Hume's restructuring of his conception of the

195 topic of epistemology. They are the result of intellectual growth—both in breadth and depth—and this wholly new formulation is reflected in the structure of his discourse.

However, Hume does not equivocate his way out of a conclusion. His dialectics have been a way not only of testing his doctrine, but also of validating it. Before coming to the conclusion of the Enquirv, however, he deals the final blow to the skeptics and he does it with the bludgeon of common sense; a double victory, both for his doctrine and for his goal of uniting philosophy with the common life. Whether Hume manages to "unite the boundaries" of the various philosophies, however, remains to be seen-

The "most confounding objection" to is the fact that "no durable good can ever result from it" (159).

Ask skeptics what they mean, ask them what proposals they have for application of their doctrine, and they will be thrown into confusion- Their doctrines could never be consistently applied, and even if they could, all human life would come to an end. Fortunately, human nature—even in the pyrrhonists—is too strong to ever be affected by such chimeras:

. . . the first and most trivial event in life will put to flight all his doubts and scruples, and leave him the same, in every point of action and speculation, with the philosophers of every other , or with those who never concerned themselves in any philosophical . (160)

196 So it is that the extreme skeptics are confounded by the very thing to which they raised objections: matters of fact and the common life. Not only do they deny the possi­ bility of any knowledge, but their tenets are utterly useless; an argument which sounds familiar, as Hume made an issue of the uselessness of the arguments of the abstract philosophers in the Enquiry's first section.

In the last few pages, Hume proposes a solution to all the contradictions between abstract philosophers, empiri­ cists, and skeptics, and it is a doctrine he calls

"mitigated scepticism," which is a result of his dialectical

investigation. This doctrine, naturally, can never evolve in

a climate of dogmatism and partisanship. When Hume decries

these enemies to moderation, he seems at the same time to

provide us with an insight into the history of his personal

intellectual struggles which finally resolved themselves

into the doctrine espoused in the Enquiry. When Hume says

that men are made so uneasy by opposing viewpoints that

they violently embrace one viewpoint to avoid that

uneasiness, we are reminded of the positive and agonistic

stance in the Treatise. But the cure for all dogmatists,

Hume feels, is to realize the natural infirmities in reasoning; he recommends a "tincture of pyrrhonism" for the

learned. In other words, Hume is recommending an intellec­ tual approach which incorporates dialectical irony:

197 investigate other perspectives; realize the limits of your own; be cognizant of the "universal doubt and perplexity, which is inherent in human nature" (161).

Hume's Enquiry is a reflection of that attitude he would instill in all philosophers and common men- In the first place, it can be seen by reading the work that Hume tests his doctrine through dialectics and thus demonstrates its validity. Secondly, Hume's final solution is to confine philosophical researches to those topics within the realm of human understanding, i.e., the common life and experience; thus, through the dialectical test of his doctrine, Hume succeeds in demonstrating how philosophy and the common life can be united, while delimiting the realm of philosophical

inquiry to that territory which can best be comprehended by his own doctrine, which he now calls mitigated skepticism.

In the third place, this doctrine, which Hume says will be useful as long as the world endures (110), has evolved from a clash of perspectives.

Hume himself says that mitigated skepticism is the offspring of excessive skepticism, or pyrrhonism, which is itself corrected by common sense and matters of fact (161-

62). In fact, we would never arrive at this correct view without Pyrrhonism, according to Hume:

. . . nothing can be more serviceable, than to be once thoroughly convinced of the force of the Pyrrhonian doubt, and of the impossibility, that

193 anything, but the strong power of natural instinct, could free us from it. (162)

Pyrrhonism evolved in response not only to the principles of abstract reasoning, but also to those of positivism. So without considering these three positions from their respective vantage points, Hume could never have formed, much less tested, his epistemology. Without them, he could have never developed mitigated skepticism, and we would have continued to flounder in the foolish error of the abstract philosophers or in the ludicrous conclusions of the pyrrhonists.

What we have here, then, is a dialectic, with each element contributing to and modifying the others. In other words, we have laid bare the greater ironic structure of

Hume's Enguiry. In this contest, as well, Hume's humble irony comes to light, for each element of the dialectic is mutually dependent, as Burke required- Hume's ironic approach includes that "sense of fundamental kinship with the enemy," the cognizance that all perspectives are "co- substantial" with each other (Burke 514), for Hume accorded his opponents egual status in his investigation and his doctrinal test. As for the guiding hand in this dialectical piece of discourse, it is obviously Hume himself, who, like

Socrates in the Platonic dialogues, guides the argument in the direction it is bound to go, while acting himself as a participant.

199 ^

How does Hume achieve his final goal of uniting the boundaries of the philosophies? Although it might appear that Hume's doctrine has triumphed and the other perspec­ tives have been vanquished, the fact is that they are all united within his doctrine, since the latter has evolved from an interaction of all viewpoints. In addition, Hume has shown the errors and contradictions in certain investiga­ tions and inquiries, all of which also serve to fragment the philosophical lines. Further, he recommends confining all philosophical "researches" to those areas which are comore- * hensible to human understanding: in other words, to matters of fact and the common life. This is certainly not a dimin- ishment of philosophy, for as Hume says, "... philo­ sophical decisions are nothing but the reflections of common life, methodized and corrected" (162). Hume even explains which topics philosophers should confine themselves to: these topics, of course, are compatible with Hume's doctrine of mitigated skepticism. There are only two fields of inquiry which fit these requirements: quantity and number, which can be demonstrated; and matters of fact and existence, which are founded on experience. If philosophers fail to keep their limitations in mind, they will wander into "fairy land" once again, and develop into contentious factions. Thus- Hume has united the boundaries of

200 philosophy, by showing the philosophers the common content and goal of their inquiries-

The Enquiry concludes, then, with Hume proposing a means to keep philosophy rigorously confined within the bounds of human understanding- He imagines perusing the libraries in a quest of reform;

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask. Does i_t contain any abstract reasoninq concerninq quantity or number? No- Does it contain any exper­ imental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No- Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistrv and illusion- (165)

Conclusion to Chapter 4

Hume has submitted his doctrine to the test of dialectics, and it has passed the test. In fact, it has emerged from the crucible of the last five sections of the

Enquiry as the only valid approach in philosophy. But Hume ironic approach is not confined to these last few sections,

Indeed, dialectics controls the entire structure of the work, for it can be divided rather loosely into sections with dominant voices:

Section I Abstract Philosophers ?^ Hume

Sections II - VII Hume

Sections VIII XI Abstract Philosophers ?•: Hume

Section XII Skeptics, Hume, S< Abstract Phi 1osophers

201 Hume appears to have distanced himself by constructing a sort of dialectic, with three "voices" or elements contri­ buting their viewpoints to the whole Enguirv. and with this point in mind, the title of the work assumes a new dimension of meaning- Can an inquiry take place without opposing viewpoints?

Hume has achieved the two goals he set for himself at the beginning of the work: to unite the boundaries of the various philosophies and to harmonize philosophy with the common life. He has succeeded in doing this because his investigation into epistemology took the form of dialectical irony, and the result was a mitigated form of skepticism,

Hume also demonstrated that inquiring into realms beyond the limits of mitigated skepticism would only result in error, contradiction, illusion, and partisanship, and that the boundaries of philosophy would only remain united if philos­ ophers confined themselves to questions within the grasp of human understanding: i-e-, to subjects within the scope of inquiry of mitigated skepticism-

Casting a glance back over the Enquiry, a study of the tropological form of the discourse reveals to us that Hume has remained rigorously metonymic in those sections that are devoted to an explanation of his doctrine, and that he submits his metonymic doctrine to a dialectical test, in which it is validated. Thus it can be affirmed from the

'->r\'ry02 evidence of the structure of his discourse that Hume did, indeed, remain rigorously metonymic throughout the Enquiry; which is certainly a contrast to the divided consciousness revealed by the discourse in the Treatise.

Taking all this into account, it is difficult to agree with the contention that Hume recast the Treatise into the

Enquiry for the sake of public applause or merely in the

interests of readability- The discourse, I assert, provides abundant evidence that Hume's purpose for recasting the

Treatise was primarily to demonstrate the evolution in his thinking on the subject of epistemology and to eliminate the philosophical conflict in his thought- Such goals can only be propounded by an individual who is immersed in the process of intellectual development, not by a modest thinker who is in quest of superficial rewards like public fame.



Now that a thorough analysis of David Hume's two epistemological works has been completed, as well as conclusions garnered from that analysis, it is possible to cast a reflective glance over this thesis as a whole and determine whether the original intent has been fulfilled-

The impetus for this study was provided by two questions: why did Hume recast the Treatise of Human Nature into the

Enguiry concerning Human Understand!nq? What is the nature of the revisions that resulted in the latter work? I had hoped that by studying both the external and the internal evidence, I would not only be able to provide at least some tentative answers to those questions, but I would also be able to discover some clues as to Hume's intention; thus providing some insight into the evolution of his thought and the progress of his career as a literary man- Furthermore, I had hoped to find evidence which would decide the question of whether Hume was motivated to revise the Treati se in great part, if not solely, by the desire for public favor or vulgar success, or in the interest of mere readability.

Critics have been able to find more than enough external evidence—epistolary and documentary—to supp..rt the hypothesis that Hume was primarily conct^rned with public approval: Hume's own autobiography provided particularly

204 forceful evidence- However, as I have shown in Chapter 1, the external evidence also serves to refute that hypothesis.

Letters and other documents in Hume s own words indicate

that he was rethinking his approach to the data of

epistemology- Hume began to consider himself as part of a

communitv of thinkers, rather than as an isolated iconoclast

whose aim was to single-handedly slay all the dragons of

error created by his philosophical opponents-

The effect of this new conception on Hume's discourse

was nothing less than revolutionary. As mv analvsis of the

internal evidence (in Chapters 3 and 4) has shown, the

discourse on epistemology has evolved from the agonistic,

conflict—ridden style of the Treati se to the collaborative

and harmonious style characteristic of the Enguiry. Hume's

methodological conflict—reflected in the dichotomy in

tropological grounding of the Treatise's discourse—was also

resolved in the Enquiry. In the latter work, Hume severely

limited his use of the idealist trope (synecdoche) to

organize the materials of reality in his consciousness, and

thus in his discourse. In fact, the consistent metonymizing

of the Enquiry's discourse is evidence that Hume cast his

bias unequivocably on the side of empiricism as he had come

to conceive it-

These conclusions based on a study of tropology have

implications for the evaluation of Hume's career as a

205 philosopher and as a literary man. For if he was, indeed, aware—either consciously or subconsciously—of the discur­ sive dichotomy in the Treatise, and set out to correct it, does this not compel his critics to reconsider the importance of the Enquiry? Many critics, among them Selby-

Bigge, have given the later work lower marks for philo­ sophical quality and contribution, choosing to disregard

Hume's desire that the Enguirv be considered the definitive version of his "philosophical sentiments and principles."

But if my analysis of his discourse is sound, Hume has not only improved his style, but has also made his philosophical method more rigorous. Thus, his preference for the Enqui ry

as a philosophical work is more than vindicated.

Hume's choice of irony as the trope of discourse for the latter sections of the Enquiry also has signi f i ca»-sce in the progress of his literary career. That the author of the

Treati se underwent nothing less than an intellectual

transformation before he was able to write the Enguiry is evidenced by the evolution of the discourse from one work to

another. Before Hume could implement his two grand goals—to unite the philosophical boundaries and to join philosophy with common sense maxims—he was forced to relinqL^ish his agonistic and egotistical approach and replace it vjith one which was conducive to harmony. Given his new

'06 conceptualization of epistemology, dialectical irony was the only discursive choice.

Furthermore, having attained to this final trope in the

"plot of discursive formation," Hume continued to organize his discourse according to its template: dialectical irony is prominent in his subsequent works- Tropological analysis was helpful in discovering that the seeds of Hume's mature works, like the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. are to be found in his very first work, and their fruition is to be traced in the revision of that work. This indicates that

Hume reached his maturity as a thinker and as a man of letters earlier, perhaps, than has generally been believed.

Finally, tropological analysis has provided an insight into Hume's "fictions of reality," as Damrosch terms it.

Hume's discourse reveals that, for him, arriving at the truth was a process; a journey with false starts, uneven progress, conflicts in approach, long hiatuses. In a very real sense, the evolution of Hume's discourse from the

Treati se to the Enguiry "enacts"—to use Richetti 's term— the development of Hume's thought on epistemology.

Structural analysis, then, has proven fruitful in discovering the nature and rationale of Hume's revision of his first work on epistemology. Both the external and internal evidence garnered in this thesis argues against the hypothesis that Hume recast the Treati se into the Enquiry

207 merely in the interest of popular applause, literary fame, or simple readability; and argues instead for a fundamental reconceptualization of the material as the reason for revision-

Finally, I would like to suggest that tropology would be a useful tool in studying the evolution of Hume's thought in his writings on history, , politics, and other topics- Would the same of metonymic discourse subjected to the test of dialectics be found in those works?

Would we find a pervasive dialectical irony, which presents in full all viewpoints on a problem, deriving at last a conclusion which most nearly approximates truth because it has passed through the crucible of multiple perspectives? I would not be surprised if the answers to those questions were to be "yes," for Hume's last work, the Dialogues, takes the form of dialectical irony carried to its limits; and other scholars, most notably John V- Price, notes the overall ironic nature of Hume's work. Analysis involving the tropes could only provide further insight into Hume's evolution as a thinker and as a literary man.

!03 ENDNOTES 1 A summary of Price's discussion of the Enguirv may help Illuminate his issue-centered approach. To begin with. Price warns prospective readers that "irony is hard to isolate in any given work. In Hume's writings, the irony is frequently the result of an interpretation that conflicts with the intended one." He mentions several forms the irony can take, including rhetorical extravagance, overstatement, understatement, ambiguity and naivete (46). Hume's ironic attack on metaphysical philosophers is analyzed, with Price pointing out that the irony is not as obvious as it is in his treatment of religion. Hume attacks the rationalistic principles but treats the philosophers themselves with "calm amusement," ironically highlighting the fallacy of divorcing reasoning from experience (47-9). For Hume, it is far better to admit one's ignorance, rather than construct elaborate philosophical or religious argusuents that either explain nothing or are mere illusions. In fact, admitting ignorance is the only way to begin the search for truth, which would be based on experience and reason (49-50). The rationalists, conseguently, are on the receiving end of most of Hume's irony, but philosophers in general also come in for their share. Price says, "Philosophers, like the rest of us, are not incapable of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel; that is the irony of their position." They may be quite particular in their reasoning, and yet construct systems that have very little basis in empirical reality (50—1). Hume's "surprise" that the "harmless and innocent sceptical philosophy" should be the target of so much reproach, is an example of both—and irony, according to Price (both literally true and ironic). Hume's blend of irony and skepticism in the Enquiry is compared to Swift's in the Modest Proposal, with Price saying they have similar purposes: both prepare the reader for the forthcoming irony with a plausible approach at the beginning of the work (51- 2). Hume's application of skeptical principles to religion is then discussed, with Price contending that Hume is sincere in his argument that religion is based on faith, not reason. His ironic discrediting of testimony as a basis for miracles is given extended treatment- Price explains how Hume uses his opponent's own arguments against him and destroys the reasoning which serves as the fourjdation for establishing the validity of testimony, miracles, and the Christian religion. The ironic scope to Section IX of the Enouirv. in which Hume has a conversation with a "friend who loves sceptical paradoxes" is investigated as MGI1 (58-9).

209 Following are examples of the "enactment of thought" found in Richetti's book. Philosophical Writing: Locke. Berkeley, Hume. According to Richetti, Hume's conception of personal identity is reflected in his discourse about personal identity. For Hume, the identity is nothing but an aggregate of ideas, which have been gleaned from perception, and are held together by certain relations, such as resem­ blance and cause/effect; and is based on the memory of those perceptions. He quotes Norman Kemp Smith, who explains that the self, like everything else, is to be understood only in terms of relation. For Richetti, Hume composes an analoov of that notion of the self, for the identity is ". . . a pic­ ture the mind sustains by powers of composition implicitly analogous to literary or artistic fashioning" (225-6). Richetti also explains that the "metaphysical agony" Hume finds himself in at the end of Book I is not merely expressive, but rather "... a largely rhetorical means of staging uncertainty, demolishing metaphysics, and preparing the ground for the psychological and moral reimaging of man in Books II and III"(217).^

David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L.A. Selby- Bigge, 2nd edition ed. P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 207. Subsequent references to Hume's writings in the Treati se are to this edition. 4 In a similar argument, Jeffrey Smitten has pointed out in his analysis of the Di alogues concerni nq Natural Religi on that the three major viewpoints are arranged according to the synecdochic template. Smitten says, "Pamphilus Cthe narrator! does not dismiss any of the three speakers: in a move typical of synecdoche, he categorizes them, assuming they all share at least some portion of the truth. . . " (12) .

There are other examples of multipartite exchanges in the Treati se. Note especially the one between Hume, the reader, and the abstract philosophers in Book I, Part II, Section III, which deals with the precedence of cause to effect. 6 L. A. Selby-Bigge analyzes the differences between sections of the Treatise and provides useful comparative tables in P. H. Nidditch's edition of the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Frinci nl e--:^ of Morals. 7 David Hume, Enquiries concerninq Human i 'nd erst and i nq ar^-i concerninq the Prif ciples of Morals, ed. P. H. Nidditch (Nt^w York: Oxford University Press, 1975), xx. All subsequent

210 references to Hume's writings in the Enguirv are to this edition. 3 Other remarks by Selby-Bigge in the introduction to Nidditch's edition of the Enguiries (ix, x, xii, xix) are indiL.c:,tive of the judgment that Hume's first Enguiry is of a lower philosophical standard than the Treatise. 9 There is a possibility that Hume is not addressing the reader, but some other nebulous third party, to whom he may be referring on page 36: "Should it be said that, from a number of uniform experiments, we infer a connection between the sensible qualities and the secret powers. ..." How­ ever, since it is not clear whom Hume is addressing, I have opted to designate it as the reader. 10 A similar multi-partite interchange with the reader occurs in the last paragraph of Section IV, Part II, in which the reader is addressed as "you," is given tagged dialogue, and in which Hume anticipates his line of thought —all to prove that inference is not supported by a chain of reasoning. Again, Hume makes a token admission that he might be wrong. 11 Michael Morrisroe points out in his essay that Hume appears to resolve philosophical disputes by pointing out problems of definition or language, which he calls "verbal disputes" (79). This is certainly the case in the issue of liberty and necessity. As Hume himself says, ". . . the whole controversy has hitherto turned merely upon words" and that the problem will easily be resolved by "a few intelli­ gible definitions" (31). 12 According to Price, Hume first establishes testimony as a reliable criteria for "truth" about events; then he turns the tables and ". . . the irony of his former praise of testimony becomes apparent" (54). The ironic view toward testimony is extended to cover other products of the human mind, in addition to religious issues. But Hume is not entirely unsympathetic to the human condition, Price claims. For Hume, "life was a permanent ironic contrast between man's professions, of, on the one hand, values and knowledge, and, on the other hand, his contradictorv execution of those values and knowledge" (55). 13 Price says that "even the stupidest of ten-year-olds" could see that the arguments of the friend are the arguments of Hume, which he had advanced elsewhere in the Enqi|j^__. Posing the argument in this way, according to Price, server the double purpoF,e of deceiving the unintelligent ar.d

211 enlightening the perceptive. Among those who could be deceived is the orthodox religionist, who gains a false sense of security from the form of the argument, but who will soon become aware of the irony "if he is at all perceptive" (57-3). Hume may indeed have in mind to tuck his views in a labyrinth of protective irony, but the ironv itself may be serving a larger puroose- 14 Donald Siebert says that in the Treatise- Hume "... acts out the part of the pyrrhonist and then metamorphoseCsl before our eyes into a true sceptic—that is, one sceptical of his own doubts-" After the Treatise, however, Hume' never "relives" the transformation, but merely warns against Pyrrhonism, and it is ". . . never Hume himself who might be a victim of the malaise." By the time he writes the first Enquiry, Hume speaks from "... a comfortable distance of the errors of pyrrhonism- , ." (S3). Mv reading of Section XII agrees with Siebert s- Although Hume does identify himself as a skeptic, he is careful to distinguish himself from the pyrrhonists by stating, immediately after he lists his own epistemological principles, that these principles are the most forceful the skeptic can use, but that no durable good or benefit to society can be expected from them if they are taken to extremes- The uselessness of their principles is one of the main objections Hume has to the rationalists, as wel1- 15 Richetti writes that Hume's style in the Treati se changes to one which is rhetorically self-conscious enough to encompass conflicting claims of different philosophical schools; one whose manner embodies the tactful and socially useful form of polite discourse described in the Enguiry concerning the Principles of Mora1s. "Hume is now essentially a mimic of various positions, an ironic ventriloquist who paraphrases with controlled incredulity, affected deference, thinly disguised contempt, and above all thereby with powerfully implicit authority the various traditional claims or ambitions of philosophy. . . . Hume arrives in the Enouiries at a disinterested 'enquiring' approach which ne^er quite leaves the self-interrogating mode, never ceases to consider philosophical speculation as severely limited and potentially deluding. . . " (255).

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