In "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", Hume says1:

All events seem entirely loose and separate. One event follows another; but we never can observe any tie between them. They seem conjoined, but never connected.

In this sentence he distinctly distinguishes "connected" from "conjoined". What is the difference in this context between the two?

1 Answer 1


"Conjoined" here means following one after another without connection. For instance, we might say that the series of #1 hits on a Billboard chart are conjoined but have no connection with each other. The point Hume is driving to is that there is no such thing as cause and effect (thereby awaking you from your dogmatic slumber). But IMHO this is more of a philosophical question than an English language question.

  • I was wondering if it's philosophical or English related, but the fact that he uses it in stark contrast made me wonder if there isn't/wasn't a difference between the words themselves, since AFAIK these words are synonymous (which is what the dictionary says). Specifically, something being "conjoined, but not connected" seems like a paradox, but it doesn't look like he's trying to use a paradox here.
    – TomM
    Jul 6, 2017 at 16:29
  • 1
    It's not necessarily philosophical, but a little abstract, I agree. Conjoined is used to mean they are joined in some way (i.e. physically connected, coming one after the other, etc...) but that they are not "connected" in any other sense; meaning they have no logical connection to each other. The Billboard hits example is pretty good. Another example: conjoined twins. They are conjoined together at some body part but they are not "connected" in thought. They are two distinct people with their own thoughts. Does that help make more sense?
    – Kace36
    Jul 7, 2017 at 5:21

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