Knowledge and Sensory Knowledge in Hume's Treatise

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Abstract
I argue that the Hume of the Treatise maintains an account of knowledge according to which (i) every instance of knowledge must be an immediately present perception (i.e., an impression or an idea); (ii) an object of this perception must be a token of a knowable relation; (iii) this token knowable relation must have parts of the instance of knowledge as relata (i.e., the same perception that has it as an object); and any perception that satisfies (i)-(iii) is an instance of knowledge. I then apply this account to the case of sense perception. I argue that Hume holds that relations of impressions can be intuited, are knowable, and are necessary. For Hume, these relations constitute sensory knowledge. While Hume is rightly labeled an empiricist for many reasons, a close inspection of his account of knowledge reveals yet another way in which he deserves the label.
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Archival date: 2020-02-11
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