Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



1981. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, IX:87-90. Copyright © 1981 Kanne


While modem science has made important contributions to the advance of learning, Hume has pointed out that a crucial element of its methodology is seriously flawed. His analysis concluded that there is no rational justification for inductive reasoning. Viewed from another perspective, the point of Hume's criticism would seem to be that the scientist's faith in the order of nature is without any ground in nature.

Whitehead found Hume's analysis to be profoundly unsettling because it leads to such utter skepticism. Whitehead believed the key to induction is to be found in the right understanding of the immediate occasion of knowledge in its full concreteness. If one turns to experience in all of its fullness, then it will be seen that Hume's analysis deals only in abstract considerations and not in the concrete occasions of experience.

By returning to the immediate occasion of experience Whitehead believed that the essential relatedness of nature will be discovered. It is this relatedness, which is discovered in our pre-analytic knowledge, that provides the ground for our faith in the order of nature and justifies inductive reasoning.

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