Volume 92, Issue 3, July 2015
Ethical and Religious Themes in Humean Philosophy
The World of the Vulgar and the Ignorant
Hume and Nagarjuna on the Substantiality and Independence of Objects
There are remarkable parallels between Hume and Nagarjuna in their denial of substantiality and independence in objects and their subsequent attitude toward our ordinary world. Acknowledging a deep-rooted human tendency to take objects as independent entities, they both argue that there is nothing intrinsic in those objects that make them unitary and independent, and that those characters are, strictly speaking, merely fictitious, mental constructs. They nonetheless affirm the existence of our ordinary world as real. Although their main purposes of the philosophical inquiry are different (epistemological for Hume, and soteriological for Nagarjuna), their accounts of the nature of our world allow us to accept it in the way we ordinarily believe with the deeper understanding of it. It is only in this world where we think, act, and interact with others that an epistemology grounded in human sentiment and experience (for Hume) or humans liberation (for Nagarjuna) is possible.