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A Priori Knowledge of Matters of Fact. Do animals acquire all their knowledge of matters of fact and real existence from sense p - Term Paper Example

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A Priori Knowledge of Matters of Fact. Do animals acquire all their knowledge of matters of fact and real existence from sense p

In this sense, Hume regards reason as an instinct both in humans and animals. My work narrows down to animal reasoning with a few studies and comparisons to human reasoning. Animal actions depend on two sorts of reasoning: based on experience and instincts. Reasoning and experience The claim about reasoning ability being essentially different in animals and humans was rejected by Descartes by arguing that animals have reason, and concluded it with certain observed behaviors in animals. He began with claims about human understanding, indicating some behavior in which animals resemble human, therefore concluding that animals must also take after humans in their reasoning (More, 1996). Hume on the other hand disagrees to this order of argument in the opposite direction where clearly states that animals learn from experiences. He cites some examples horses learn what heights they can safely leap, and dogs learn to fear the sight of a whip (EHU 9.2-3; SBN 105). More over, animals do not clearly utilize “any process of argument or reasoning” to make such inferences. Indeed, Hume says that it is “impossible” for them to do so, due to their “imperfect understandings” (EHU 9.5; SBN 106). Reasoning and instincts We have seen in first sort of animal reasoning that it almost resembles the human reasoning. However, this is quite different in the second kind of action. Hume claims that reason is itself an instinct and this is made peculiar after considering the two types of instincts: the generalized cognitive instinct of reason which is the ability to relate ideas in various ways, and the specialized cognitive instincts that comprise knowledge of particular matters of fact required for the animal’s survival (Boyle, 2003). Hume cites an example to support the latter sort of reasoning when he says “a bird which chooses the location and materials of her nest and then sits on her eggs for the appropriate amount of time” (EHU 9.6; SBN 108). Hume argues that such knowledge comes “from the original hand of nature,” and that we call such knowledge “instincts” (EHU 9.6; SBN 108). He also argues that although humans may marvel at such knowledge, “their wonder will, perhaps, cease or diminish, when they consider, that the experimental reasoning itself, which they possess in common with beasts, and on which the whole conduct of life depends, is nothing but a species of instinct or mechanical power” (EHU 9.6; SBN 108). This way, Hume sticks to his argument that the specific instincts of animals are do not differ from the ability, both in humans and animals, to reason according to experience. It would be lame to think that humans lack instincts altogether, they do also possess instincts which are mostly portrayed in their passions such as thirst, hunger, love, resentment and attachment to other humans. They however rarely utilize such instincts for survival which seems to be the matter of fact with animals that have more of these instincts. According to Massey’s (1976), it is clearly an empirical matter whether human beings or any other ...Show more


Philosophy Submission Date: Introduction According to Hume’s writings, the reasoning of humans and animals are similar, the difference comes in their reasoning abilities. One of the differences is that animals, unlike humans, possess specific cognitive instincts tat are designed to assist them propagate and survive, and another difference is that humans, unlike animals, have the ability to improve their reasoning…
Author : pwuckert
A Priori Knowledge of Matters of Fact. Do animals acquire all their knowledge of matters of fact and real existence from sense p essay example
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A Priori Knowledge of Matters of Fact. Do animals acquire all their knowledge of matters of fact and real existence from sense perception and causal reasoning If not, what is this knowledge like and where do they get it What is instinct Is causal
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