David Hume believed that the ability to REASON is possessed by all humankind (assuming even rudimentary natural development… such as the mental powers of a two year old). Thus, the power of Reason, being shared by all, can UNITE all; it can provide common ground for interactions and, hopefully, agreements. If we did NOT share the same basic Reasoning faculty, then, writes Hume, *“nothing could be more fruitless than to reason or dispute together.”* (and, indeed, such activities seem fruitless enough already).

When we persist in disagreement it is due either to Reason-blinding prejudice or to a confusion concerning TERMS.

Nothing preserves a dispute so long (assuming open minds) says Hume, than* “ambiguous expressions.”* Mathematicians typically don’t dispute over equations because their Terms are well-defined. In math, *“an oval is never mistaken for a circle.”*

But of course, in the imprecise world of the everyday, there are no perfect circles. Unlike mathematics, the Terms of philosophical disputes are not always *“clear and determinate”* as they are in mathematics. In math, the smallest difference is immediately perceivable. Not so when it comes to the vague values assigned to Ideas. *“The chief obstacle, therefore, to our improvement in the moral or metaphysical sciences,”* writes Hume, *“is the obscurity of the ideas, and the ambiguity of terms.” *

### Like this:

Like Loading...

*Related*

## Published by Hammering Shield

You may use and cite freely from these essays.
To Contact: account name: hammeringshield; email provider: gmail.com
View all posts by Hammering Shield