Two Puzzles in Hume's Epistemology

History of Philosophy Quarterly 25 (4):301 - 314 (2008)
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There are two major puzzles in Hume’s epistemology. The first involves Hume’s fall into despair in the conclusion of Book One of the Treatise. When Hume reflects back upon the results of his research, he becomes so alarmed that he nearly throws his books and papers into the fire. Why did his investigations push him towards such intense skeptical sentiments? What dark discoveries did he make? The second puzzle concerns the way in which Hume emerges from this skeptical crisis and proceeds with his investigations. Why the sudden change of heart? What accounts for the return of hope? Each of these puzzles represents a serious challenge to traditional approaches to Hume’s epistemology. A proper solution to them requires a careful examination of Hume’s claims about the untrustworthiness of our cognitive faculties as well as his strategy for improving their performance.
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