Hume’s Scepticism in Masaryk’s Essay About Probability and in His Other Papers

Zdeněk Novotný


It was Hume's concept of knowledge that marked Masaryk's philosophy more than influential Kant. Masaryk devoted Hume his inaugural lecture The Probability Calculus and Hume's Scepticism at Prague University in 1882. He tried to face his scepticism concerning causation and induction by a formula P = n:(n+1) or P = (n+1):(n+2) where P means the increasing probability that an event that had happened n times in the past will happen again. Hume stresses that there is an essential difference between probability and certainty, and we have no logical reason to presuppose that the past experience (however massive) is legitimate for expectation that the future will resemble to the past. Only our belief, not knowledge, leads us to that. Although Masaryk did not accept Hume's scepticism, he had deep understanding for his way of thinking. Reflection of Hume's influence on Masaryk in Czech philosophy is unsatisfactory, which is stated in this article.


epistemology; scepticism; probability; belief; knowledge

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: