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You cannot conclude an Ought from an Is
Barry MagidApril 28th 2018
If you give a factual description of the way things are that has no compelling reason to conclude anything about the way things ought to be. The way things ought to be is an emotional response to the way things are and has no basis in logic, reason, or empirical descriptions of things. The philosopher Hume's position on morality is that such judgements just approve one state of affairs over another, but that has no absolute grounding in things like reason or religion. Hume, like Adam Smith, wanted to ground ethics in sentiment, fellow feeling, or what we would call empathy. It cannot be universalized or arrived at by reason. Hume and Buddha had many ideas in common about the nature of the self and yet came to very different conclusions about how we ought to live.
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David Hume had very similar ideas to Buddha about the nature of the self, or rather, about the nature of the not-self. He believed that human existence was nothing more than a "bundle" of experiences together, and there existed no further thing which did the bundling. The Buddhist doctrine of anatta also claims there is no self at all. In fact, Hume might have gotten this idea from Buddhism, as there were very early translations of Buddhist texts available around that time where Hume was living...
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