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When in doubt, write a blog post

Yet again, I have to say I do not understand my philosophy reading. It's by David Hume and it's "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding." I don't get it! I'm going to write what I think I get from the reading here, so that maybe I'll understand it better. Philosophy is incredibly dense reading, and it's hard to read with a robotic voice. I have a feeling, though, that even if I did read it in Braille, I'd have a hard time following it. I will get through this class, just like I did last year with the hard classes. I will probably even do okay, but I don't like it when I don't understand things. I also feel bad about not understanding it, since the professor is so nice and supportive. I will probably need to talk it over with her. That's not even close to the end of the world. And I know that this is good preparation for being a social worker, when I'll need to ask for deal with understanding texts, contexts and concepts. I will have to ask for what I need and find reasonable ways to get things done. The challenge is good for me, or at least, that's what I keep telling myself (smile).

Okay, so, what I think he's saying is that sensation is always stronger than thought. Thought, or concept is weaker. I'm not sure I agree with this. I find that sensation is strong, but imagining that sensation can be incredibly powerful. I've heard of people actually being tricked into thinking they can't feel anything at all. That's pretty powerful. And if I tell you to imagine a lemon, you'll probably pucker up, just as if you were actually eating one.

He goes into the idea that a "blind man" can't conceive color. If we're speaking of a congenitally totally blind person, then, yes, this is probably true. But it depends on people's definition of conveiving color. I've had people describe red, when they've never seen it. In other words, they have an idea of red. It may be very different from Hume's idea of red, but do we really always see red the same way? How do we really know that everyone experiences red the same way anyway?

He also mentioned that if a blind person is able to see, they gain knowledge of these things. That might be true, but I question if it's the same as what he thinks it is. For example, there have been studies that show that someone who gains sight for the first time at adulthood will have difficulty connecting the feel of an object with the look of it. I don't completely understand this stuff. I think it would have some interesting implications with things like medicine.

I have a hard time with these comple ideas. I don't understand it all behind the fancy language, but I want to. I can talk about it in plain concepts, but talking in the language of philosophers confuses me! Philosophy and theology in one day is definitely challenging. I like it, I just don't get it! Anyone get any of this?



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(Deleted comment)
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
I see what you mean about colors like "rust" or things that aren't bright enough for you and I to see and visualize. I didn't think of that before.

It is similar with some of the guided imagery stuff I've seen. I can't conceptualize it at all, because I've never seen it. Visualizing a calm pond does nothing for me, but imagining the sun on my back or the sound of birds chirping does help. It's similar to the idea of red to me, in the sense that some of it works, some of it doesn't. If, for example, I were to experience a calm pond in some way, I might be able to visualize one. Does that make sense?
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC)
reading philosophy
When you read this stuff, try to think of it as just one person's ideas, not truth or factoids. This is somethign that may be hard because at this point in your life you are usedto truths and factoids. The American educational system has mostly raised you to be memorizers, not explorers. Your own personality makes you an explorer... So... Try to get into his time period and the things that would influence his thinking. His concept of blindness is probably different from ours... What would it be? Probably the total born blind. Philosophy hasn't advanced far enough yet for people to understand that person A doesn't perceive red the same way as person B.

HTH. [hugs]
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
Re: reading philosophy
Your advice on being an explorer makes sense. I do it all of the time in this blog, but it's hard to transfer that to school. I'm used to having to memoize a word or concept. The quizs seem to be more about using a concept than actually matching the concept with the person, although there is still some of that. Thanks for the advice.

Hugs back!
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
a bit more thinking
Wasn't quite done yet. LOL!

I was just thinking that sometimes you have to sort of treat the ideas like facts in order to learn the material for the purpose of taking the test. But it's still his ideas... In the end, you're allowed to disagree with them. So treat them like class facts, but not like things that need to change your mind.

Can you tell I've been reading theology?
Oct. 4th, 2006 07:39 pm (UTC)
Re: a bit more thinking
Another good point. Yeah, I can tell you've been reading theology. This stuff is confusing, but interesting. You have more courage than I do going into this field. I'm content to keep it a hobby. Thanks for taking time out and commenting. Your suggestions are helpful!
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