Immanence without Reductionism, Irreducibility without Mysticism: A Reexamination of David Hume on Experience, Skepticism, and Custom

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts major in Philosophy (Option 1: Thesis)



First Advisor

Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez, PhD


The history of interpretations surrounding David Hume’s epistemology has in great part resulted in a predominantly negative reputation for the thinker despite also an acknowledged significance and influence he holds in modern philosophy and various other developments of the time. Much of this has to do with the basic presupposition that he sought to employ skepticism in the name of finding a rigorous mechanistic standard of justification for human knowledge, even if to the point of atomistic extremity. Alternatives to this paradigm have indeed been put forward, but remain in some manner a relative minority to influencing the greater perception of Hume. This study hence explores both the source of uncharitable interpretations within Hume’s works on human understanding, as well as how such readings fall apart upon a closer inspection of the texts. The resulting worldview that emerge wildly differs from the dominant atomistic-mechanistic narrative, and even surpasses the implications drawn out by prior constructive readings: a radical but mitigated skeptical perspective that fearlessly internalizes the inexorable fallibility of knowledge, always taken in the immanent but irreducibly complex context of common practice and ordinary life, such as to exclude both the excessive reductionism of rigid epistemological verification and the wantonly obscure mystical tendencies of metaphysics.

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