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Hume Studies Volume XXV, Numbers 1 and 2, April/November 1999, pp. 83-99 Force and Vivacity in the Treatise and the Enquiry FRANCIS W. DAUER Hume's appeal to "force and vivacity" presents a challenge to those of us who try to render his views as plausible as possible. Of course, if we reject "folk psychology " or an appeal to our consciousness, the challenge becomes insurmountable . Fortunately, in today's philosophical climate such appeals are no longer universally rejected, and at least in some quarters there may be interest in discerning what such appeals may reveal. But even granting such an appeal, is there anything given to our consciousness that will do the kind of work Hume intends for force and vivacity? I shall attempt to make an affirmative answer as plausible as I can. Recall that Hume appeals to force and vivacity to distinguish (1) impressions from ideas, (2) memory from other ideas, and (3) beliefs from fictions of the fancy. In my defense of Hume, I shall urge that, taken separately, each of these appeals has some plausibility and to this extent provides some tentative suggestions on what it is like to perceive, remember, and believe. Before proceeding to this defense, several preliminaries are called for. Hume's view on force and vivacity underwent changes in his writings, and no one view can be said to be his account of force and vivacity. His initial view occurs in Book I of the Treatise (which was published along with Book II). By the time the Appendix of the Treatise was published with Book III, we see Hume shifting away from his initial view. Further changes, as well as a full appreciation of the shift, can be found in the Enquiry. For most of this paper I shall primarily be concerned with his later views, though earlier views will Francis W. Dauer is a professor at the Department of Philosophy, South Hall, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA. e-mail: dauer@humanitas.ucsb.edu 84 Francis W. Dauer occasionally be mentioned for contrast. In the final section, I shall address the more exegetical issues concerning Hume's change of mind over the years. While space constraints prevent a discussion that will do justice to the views of other commentators, a few words may be in order to indicate what I think is needed to render Hume's views plausible. Leaving aside commentators finding fatal defects with his account, those trying to salvage a tolerable reading of Hume more or less identify force and vivacity with belief (which Hume on one occasion says is the true and proper name for the feeling). One group focuses on Hume's use of 'force' and proposes a functionalist account of force and vivacity whereby it is a causal property of "perceptions" (in the wide sense) to produce such states as passions and actions which are functionally related to beliefs.1 At least on the face of it, this is at odds with force and vivacity being available to consciousness, and I shall take it that Hume took force and vivacity to be so available. Beyond this, while I shall take it that Hume appealed to force and vivacity to distinguish impressions from ideas, a functionalist account has difficulties in preventing impressions from degenerating into mere beliefs (unless something quite foreign to the Humean framework is appealed to).2 A second line of thought is due to Wayne Waxman, who identifies force and vivacity with something like a felt sense of reality or truth, with impressions having this quality in the highest degree.3 While this avoids the first defect of the functionalist account, I believe it fails to avoid a variant of the second problem: without appealing to something quite un-Humean, some impressions can become mere beliefs, and vice versa.41 shall assume that force and vivacity must be consciously available, and that appealing to them, at least in one guise, must allow impressions and ideas to be distinguished. Impressions Hume introduces the distinction between impressions and ideas in the Treatise by saying: The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness with which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 83-99
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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