FOM: hume

Reuben Hersh rhersh at
Sat Jan 17 11:20:57 EST 1998

Here's the quote from David Hume that I referred to yesterday.

(It seems he did pay attention to real mathematicians.)

It's from p.231 of the Treatise of Human Nature (Penguin, 1969)

"In all demonstrative sciences the rules are certain and infallible, but 
when we apply them, our fallible and incertain faculties are very apt to 
depart from them, and fall to error...By this means all knowledge 
degenerates to probability...There is no Algebraist nor Mathematician so 
expert in his science, as to place entire confidence in any truth 
immediately upon his discovery of it, or regard it as any thing, but a mere 
probability.   Every time he runs over his proofs , his confidence 
encreases; but still more by the approbation of his friends, and is 
rais'd to its utmost perfection  by the universal assent and applause of 
the learned world.  Now 'tis evident that this gradual encrease of 
assurance is nothing but the addition of new probabilities."

Quoting Hume does not necessarily mean agreeing with every word.
It means, Here is something to consider.

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