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Scientiae Studia

versão impressa ISSN 1678-3166


MATOS, José Claudio Morelli. Instinct and reason in human nature in David Hume and Charles Darwin. Sci. stud. [online]. 2007, vol.5, n.3, pp.263-286. ISSN 1678-3166.

This discussion intends to show some relevant elements, in order to establish a comparison between the works of David Hume and Charles Darwin concerning human and other animal's cognitive capacities. Hume develops a theory to explain causal knowledge in terms of a natural instinct - habit. The presence of this instinct can be understood by reference to a general theory of nature that conceives the world governed by constant laws and regularities, without any supposition of interference of an external design or intention. This leads Hume in the way of an approximation between human cognitive capacities and the cognitive capacities of other animals, which also reveals instinctive learning of causal type. Darwin, on his turn, offers a graduation of many capacities of knowledge, distinguishing instinctive action from action resulting from deliberation and inference, and points to the fact that many animals have a significant degree of intelligent behavior. Darwinian mechanism of evolution by natural selection wants to explain this character, in humans as much as in animals. From that results the contemporary fashion in epistemology called evolutionary epistemology that, by following Darwin, lacks a more detailed interpretation of Hume's teaching that could, we suppose, offer elements to the treatment of questions such as the capacity of causal knowledge.

Palavras-chave : Darwin; Hume; Knowledge; Epistemology; Natural selection.

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