This paper will argue that despite habit, custom, and the existence of God, one does not know in fact if the future will be a resemblance of the past. Basing on the works of famous philosophers Immanuel Kant and David Hume, we’ll come to the conclusion that no one can foresee one’s future even on the basis of strict knowledge of the past and even having habits and customs that presumably have to lead to some definite outcome. The two thinkers argued about those things, and using their ideas we’ll substantiate the thesis under consideration.
Hume was usually blamed for the fact that he had too atomistic view of perception, but he admitted that some relationships can be perceived. "We should not consider as reasoning about any of our observations on the identity or on relationship of time and place, for in none of these observations our mind cannot comprehended the limits of what is directly perceived by the senses" (A Treatise of Human Nature 34). Causation, he says, is different in that it takes us beyond the impressions of our senses and gives us information about the unperceived existences. The argument for this is, apparently, unfounded. We believe in the existence of many relations of time and place that we can not accept; we believe that the time stretches into the past and future, and space stretches far beyond the limits of our room. Hume applies a valid argument that while we sometimes perceive the relationship of time and place, we never perceive the causal relationships that must, if assumed, derive from the relations which can be perceived. The dispute thus boils down to one empirical fact: whether we sometimes perceive or not a link that can be called causal? Hume says - no, his opponents say - yes, but actually to understand the evidence of each of the parties is hard (A Treatise of Human Nature 58).
The strongest argument in favor of Hume can be deduced from the nature of the causal laws of physics. It turns out that the simple rules of the form "A causes B" is never allowed in science, and they are mostly considered as rough assumptions at the early stages of the development of science. Causal laws that supersede these simple rules in the advanced sciences are so complex that no one can assume that they are given in perception and that they are obviously well concluded from the observed processes of nature. As far as it concerns physical sciences, Hume is entirely right: such a proposition as "A causes B" can never be taken, and our tendency to accept it can be explained by the laws of habit and association. These laws are in their exact form will become carefully designed by the allegations with respect to nervous tissue: initially by its physiology, chemistry, and then - physics.
However, the opponent of Hume, even if he generally admits what has been said about physical sciences, he can not yet consider himself as defeated. He can say that in psychology we have cases where you can perceive a causal relationship. In general, the concept of cause is likely to come from an act, and we can say that we are able to perceive the relationship between an act of will and the subsequent action that is more than the constant action. The same can be said about the connection between the sudden pain and screaming. However, such views were extremely difficult for psychology. Between the desire to move the arm and the subsequent movement there is a long chain of causal and intermediate events, consisting of processes in the nerves and muscles. We take only finite terms of the process - an act of volition and motion, but it is in fact impossible to see a direct causal link between them. This argument is not comprehensive in this wide issue, but it shows that the rash to assume that we perceive causal relationships, in which case we think – we do. Therefore, the advantage is in the debate about causality in favor of the views of Hume that reason is nothing but a constant sequence. However, the proof is not as exhaustive as suggested by Hume (An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding 88).
Hume considers as not enough to reduce the proof of a causal relationship to the experience of often repeated coincidence; he continues to prove that such experience will not meet the expectations of such coincidences in the future. For example, when person sees an apple, past experience leads his to expect that it will taste like an apple but not the steak; but there is no reasonable justification for that expectation. If there was such an excuse, it would come from the principle that "the cases that we have not met in our experience should be like those we have already experienced." This principle is not a logical necessity, since we can at least suggest changes according to the order of nature. Therefore, it would stand as a principle of probability. But all the possible arguments presuppose this principle, so it can not be proven by any plausible argument or there can not be shown its probability of any of these arguments. Therefore, "the assumption that the future is similar to the past is not based on any argument, but derives solely from habit," – this is Hume’s conclusion that is full of skepticism (An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding 253).
Hume also claimed that "all probable reasoning is nothing but a kind of feeling. Not only in poetry and music, but in philosophy we have to follow your own taste and sense. When I am convinced of a principle, it only means that a certain idea has particularly strong effect on me; when I prefer the same chain of arguments to the other, I just decide on the basis of feelings that one has more influence on me. Between the objects there is not any accessible to our observation necessary connection, and only by acting of habit but not any principle on the imagination can we deduce from the existence of one object the conclusion of the existence of another" (A Treatise of Human Nature 34).
In his research, Hume also finds a new explanation of the concept of faith. He claims that we believe in more probable events to come as an absolute. "Therefore, transferring the past to the future to determine the action that will appear as a result for any reason, we seem to carry over the various events in the same proportion in which they met in the past, imagining that one of them happened, for example, one hundred times, the second – ten times, and the third - just once. Since a large number of possibilities for the same event is met here, they reinforce and confirm it in our imagination, generate the feeling which we call faith, and give the object a sense of advantage over the opposite event, which is not supported by the same number of experiments" (A Treatise of Human Nature 267). In fact, it is neither the faith, nor the hope nor expectation. It is true that man, who does not know anything about the likely nature of reality, expects the most likely event certainly, but a person knowledgeable about the likely nature of reality expects the same event with a sense of risk of nonoccurrence of expected. Faith is not that: it just makes it possible the opposite expectation to happen: a person who believes in miracles waits for the onset of an incredible event, and believes in the omnipotence of God is waiting for the miracle not with the sense of hope, but with an absolute certainty.
The new, compared to the previous point is that "faith" is no longer a sense that allows you to distinguish the truth from fiction, but the feeling that distinguishes the most likely event in the series of possible ones. Perhaps, such a feeling exists; it can be called unreasonable expectation or unconscious calculation. Maybe it takes a great place in everyday life, but beyond that its value can not be extended.
Kant is known to have a unique perception of the general form of both external events and phenomena of inner experience. In short, in his opinion, the time exists both for a separate subject, and for the outside world (of course, if both are understood as phenomena). Therefore, a usual question about the relationship of any positive notion of the Kantian philosophy of time is raised (Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics 52).
Kant here started with the obvious thing: any real action is happening now in the present tense. Further, the purpose is thought (and the purpose is something thinkable) as something that can be implemented in the future. The purpose is something that must be achieved or in the future (such as a comfortable old age), or saved in the future (when it’s available in present, for instance, life). You could even say that the purpose exists in the subjective future. "Of course, we are talking about the subjective future as a possible state of the subject - that is, the sense of the word "future", which is embedded in the words "my future" (Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics 124).
Maximus, being the link between the target and action, is also a link (conceivable) between the future and the present. It remains to clarify the relationship of the law to the time. The law, rules, regulations, etc. are something given, something that already take place at the time when the subject just prepares to commit an act. "The law has no retroactive effect": the law, which arose after or during the commission of the act, cannot be extended on this act (Critique of Pure Reason 39). Thus, the law is in the past, and it was given before the subject appeared with his objectives and actions. Strictly speaking, an act of assertion of certain norms and fundamental principle has only relation to the past, but not the law itself. The law itself only extends beyond the norm, at the present time. Thus, the law is the link (once occurred) between past and present.
According to the familiar skeptical thesis, the past does not exist, but the person has a vision of "the past" being different from "future" and "present." At the same time, Kant demonstrates the confidence that the past exists in some sense, and it is possible to appeal to it. This is some kind of updating personal experience, that is, the process by which one "mentally refers to the past (remember) only with the intention to predict future " (An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? 19) However, such prediction is regarded by Kant as an empirical, and therefore does not lead to the production of concepts. For the opportunity for the concept to appear, one should work not with the ability of foresight, but with the ability of imagination. But imagination in this perspective is interpreted by Kant as being associated with the memory, thus "reproductive imagination may cause again in certain case signs for the concepts even from distant past" (An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? 19). However, the sign can not be substituted by objects, and this means that for the production of ideas imagination is a necessary but not sufficient element.
Of course, one must have a fair amount of imagination to imagine the past. Hume has shown that there is no logical necessity, according to which we can verify our understanding of it. And, then, no one can logically prove that the thing that is now available is the consequence of what had taken place. In other words, there is no rational reason to consider something non-existent as the cause of the existence of what is available. Then it is possible to conclude that even being the subject of the discipline of history, the past can not be a subject of contemplation, however, the question on how past was given is still to solve.
Therefore, both philosophers conclude that there is a pre-established harmony between the order of nature and change of our ideas. The succession of ideas controls habit, a deep principle of our thinking that transfers past to the future. Correctness of this instinct, which is activated only by impressions, and arises directly out of human nature (remember Kant's assertion that all knowledge begins from experience, but not all of it originates from experience) is explained by the wisdom of nature that is able to fit unknown to us laws of change of impressions. Second, as Kant believed, getting used to a sequence of events, we expect its repetition. But what is the nature of such expectations? To understand this, one must understand that the expected event is phenomenally different from any other imaginable event. We feel it differently.
The imaginary events that are comprehended in similar situations may be felt in a different way through links of a similar sequence. Hence, the source of confidence in the appearance of any event is in its impressionable past. Therefore, you can expect only the things that have taken place before. And that means unconditional acceptance by the identity of past and future. This recognition is inherent in any act of waiting (or associations of this state with a certain future). From the above statement it is also clear that this is an absolute identification of the past and the future has nothing to do with experience, and is rooted in the nature of reproductive imagination (thus the "habit" is not the second but the first nature). And a belief in the identity of the past and the future is enough to generate the belief that every event has a cause. True, the need to link cause and effect is able to be felt and not just comprehended rationally.
Kant, Immanuel. Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Foward as a Science. 1783. (Gary Hatfield (trans.) In Henry Allison and Peter Heath (ed.). 2002. Theoretical Philosophy after 1781). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 51–169.
Kant, Immanuel. An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? 1784. (Mary J. Gregor (trans.). In Mary J. Gregor (ed.). 1996. Practical Philosophy). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 17–22.
Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. 1781; (2nd edition 1787. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (trans.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Hume, David. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, edited by Tom L. Beauchamp, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.