Philosopher David Hume on the Reasoning of Animals Summary

SECTION IX: on the Reasoning of Animals


82-85. Concerning animals, two things are evident.

First,
animals, as well as people, learn from experience that the same events will follow from the same causes. A horse learns from experience the height it can jump. A dog learns from experience to answer to its name and not to another.

Second,
this learning is not from reasoning for animals any more than it is for children. Nature has provided another principle. But for mankind and animals, it is instinct that acts unknown to us and them, that teaches a man to avoid fire and a bird to know the art of incubation and nursing its young.

Why, then, do humans surpass animals in reasoning and one person can surpass another, if the difference is not in the reasoning itself? Answer: the difference is in the giving of attention, in memory, and in observation. One mind may be larger and better able to comprehend, or better able to remember a chain of consequences, or better able to discern between ideas, not mistaking one for another. One mind in observation may be better able to form general maxims, to see beyond prejudice, or to have greater social confidence and be able to enlarge one's own experiences by those of others. And there are many other circumstances that can be factors.

Philosopher David Hume on the Reasoning of Animals Summary

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