BACK in 1839, philosopher David Hume couldn't hold back any longer, so he sallied forth, at the grand old age of eighteen, to write his Treatise of Human Nature. Why not? The Scots are notoriously dour and flinty, and certainly exposed at a young age to the reality of a long winter, so a young lad raised on haggis and mutton ought to have a clear and unclouded mind uninflamed by the fripperies of London and its Sassenach coffee-houses.
He starts out, as any philosopher must, by clearing the ground. In young David's case, he tells us the difference between "impression" and "idea." The difference between the two, he writes, consists in the "degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness."
There should be no problem in discriminating between the two, he writes, even though "in sleep, in a fever, in madness... our ideas may approach our impressions."
Oh yeah? Just how then do we do it? How close can an hallucination approach us in force and vivacity before we dignify it with the rank of "impression?" Other than the classic professorial put-down that it's obvious?
Christopher Chantrill is a writer and conservative, and author of Road to the Middle Class. He runs usgovernmentspending.com, the go-to resource for government finance data, is a frequent contributor to the American Thinker, and blogs regularly at Rare.us. He lives in Seattle, Washington ...
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First there was TARP at $700 billion and change. But did you know that the total financial bailout of 2008, in spending and guarantees, amounted to over $20 trillion?