Hume and the Missing Shade of Blue

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI:
Hume and the Missing Shade of Blue

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Hume declares that the doctrine that every simple idea must arise from a simple impression is a “first principle” in the science of human nature. Then, in both The Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, he presents what he takes to be a decisive counterexample to this first principle: Presented with a spectrum of colors with one shade missing, we can form an idea of this missing shade even if we have never had a prior impression of it. The suggestion here is that, for Hume, simple ideas can resemble each other in various degrees without compromising their simplicity. Because of this, the system of colors forms a space in which gaps can be recognized and, if not too small, can be filled in.

Keywords: color; Hume; ideas; impressions; internal relations; simplicity

Chapter.  4212 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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