David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS)
– 25 August 1776)
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* ''999'' (anthology) or ''99 ...br>David Hume
The (Latin for "British Encyclopædia") is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia. It is published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.; the company has existed since the 18th century, although it has changed ownership various tim ...''. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century ... philosopher
A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom'. The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek th ...
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the st ...
An economist is a professional and practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.
The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy. Within this field there are ...
A librarian is a person who works professionally in a library providing access to information, and sometimes social or technical programming, or instruction on information literacy to users.
The role of the librarian has changed much over time ...
An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a letter, a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays have been sub-classified as for ...
, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical
In philosophy, empiricism is an epistemological theory that holds that knowledge or justification comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views within epistemology, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empir ...
Skepticism, also spelled scepticism, is a questioning attitude or doubt toward knowledge claims that are seen as mere belief or dogma. For example, if a person is skeptical about claims made by their government about an ongoing war then the pe ...
, and naturalism
[ Beginning with ''] A Treatise of Human Nature
'' A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'' (1739–40) is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the ...'' (1739–40), Hume strove to create a naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. Hume argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge derives solely from experience
Experience refers to conscious events in general, more specifically to perceptions, or to the practical knowledge and familiarity that is produced by these conscious processes. Understood as a conscious event in the widest sense, experience involv .... This places him with Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon led the advancement of both ..., Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan'', in which he expounds an influen ..., John Locke
John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "father of liberalism". Considered one of ..., and George Berkeley
George Berkeley (; 12 March 168514 January 1753) – known as Bishop Berkeley ( Bishop of Cloyne of the Anglican Church of Ireland) – was an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immate ... as an Empiricist
In philosophy, empiricism is an epistemological theory that holds that knowledge or justification comes only or primarily from sensory experience. It is one of several views within epistemology, along with rationalism and skepticism. Empiri ....
Hume argued that inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning in which a general principle is derived from a body of observations. It consists of making broad generalizations based on specific observations. Inductive reasoning is distinct from ''deductive'' r ... and belief in causality
Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one event, process, state, or object (''a'' ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state, or object (an ''effect'') where the ca ... cannot be justified rationally; instead, they result from custom and mental habit. We never actually perceive that one event causes another but only experience the " constant conjunction
In philosophy, constant conjunction is a relationship between two events, where one event is invariably followed by the other: if the occurrence of A is always followed by B, A and B are said to be ''constantly conjoined''. A critical philosophica ..." of events. This problem of induction
First formulated by David Hume, the problem of induction questions our reasons for believing that the future will resemble the past, or more broadly it questions predictions about unobserved things based on previous observations. This infere ... means that to draw any causal inferences from past experience, it is necessary to presuppose that the future will resemble the past, a presupposition which cannot itself be grounded in prior experience.
An opponent of philosophical rationalists
In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary of Philosophy'' ..., Hume held that passions rather than reason govern human behaviour, famously proclaiming that " Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions." Hume was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on emotion or sentiment rather than abstract moral principle. He maintained an early commitment to naturalistic explanations of moral phenomena and is usually taken to have first clearly expounded the is–ought problem
The is–ought problem, as articulated by the Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume, arises when one makes claims about what ''ought'' to be that are based solely on statements about what ''is''. Hume found that there seems to be a signi ..., or the idea that a statement of fact alone can never give rise to a normative
Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good, desirable, or permissible, and others as bad, undesirable, or impermissible. A norm in ... conclusion of what ''ought'' to be done.
Hume also denied that humans have an actual conception of the self, positing that we experience only a bundle of sensations, and that the self is nothing more than this bundle of causally-connected perceptions. Hume's compatibilist
Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent.
Compatibilists believe that freedom can be present or absent in situations for ... theory of free will
Free will is the capacity of agents to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.
Free will is closely linked to the concepts of moral responsibility, praise, culpability, sin, and other judgements which apply only to a ... takes causal determinism as fully compatible with human freedom. His views on philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is "the philosophical examination of the central themes and concepts involved in religious traditions". Philosophical discussions on such topics date from ancient times, and appear in the earliest known texts concerning ph ..., including his rejection of miracles and the argument from design for God's existence, were especially controversial for their time.
Hume influenced utilitarianism
In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals.
Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different char ..., logical positivism
Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion o ..., the philosophy of science
Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultim ..., early analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy using analysis, popular in the Western world and particularly the Anglosphere, which began around the turn of the 20th century in the contemporary era in the United Kingdom, United St ..., cognitive science, theology
Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the ..., and many other fields and thinkers. Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and ... credited Hume as the inspiration who had awakened him from his "dogmatic slumbers."
Hume was born on 26 April 1711 (
Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate dating systems before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually, this is the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar as enacted in various European countries between 158 ...), as David Home, in a tenement
A tenement is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access. They are common on the British Isles, particularly in Scotland. In the medieval Old Town, ... on the north side of Edinburgh
Edinburgh ( ; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (interchangeably Edinburghshire before 1921), it is located in Lothian ...'s Lawnmarket
The Royal Mile () is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W. M. Gilbert's ''Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century'' (1901), de .... He was the second of two sons born to Catherine Home ( née
A birth name is the name of a person given upon birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name, or the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire name entered onto a birth certificate or birth re ... Falconer), daughter of Sir David Falconer of Newton and wife Mary Falconer ( née
A birth name is the name of a person given upon birth. The term may be applied to the surname, the given name, or the entire name. Where births are required to be officially registered, the entire name entered onto a birth certificate or birth re ... Norvell), [Hume, David. 1778 776] and Joseph
My Own Life
" In ''The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Revolution in 1688'' 1. London. Archived from th
on 13 August 2015. Also availabl
Retrieved 18 May 2020.
A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many humans, and sometimes various companion animals. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to it. ... of Chirnside
Chirnside is a hillside village in Berwickshire, Scotland, west of Berwick-upon-Tweed and east of Duns.
The parish church at Chirnside dates from the 12th century. It was substantially rebuilt in 1878 and extensively restored and ... in the County of Berwick, an advocate of Ninewells. Joseph died just after David's second birthday. Catherine, who never remarried, raised the two brothers and their sister on her own.
Hume changed his family name's spelling in 1734, as the surname 'Home' (pronounced as 'Hume') was not well-known in England. Hume never married and lived partly at his Chirnside
Chirnside is a hillside village in Berwickshire, Scotland, west of Berwick-upon-Tweed and east of Duns.
The parish church at Chirnside dates from the 12th century. It was substantially rebuilt in 1878 and extensively restored and ... family home in Berwickshire
Berwickshire ( gd, Siorrachd Bhearaig) is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in south-eastern Scotland, on the English border. Berwickshire County Council existed from 1890 until 1975, when the area became part of ..., which had belonged to the family since the 16th century. His finances as a young man were very "slender", as his family was not rich and, as a younger son, he had little patrimony to live on.
Hume attended the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals) is a public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted a royal charter by King James VI in 158 ... at an unusually early ageeither 12 or possibly as young as 10at a time when 14 was the typical age. Initially, Hume considered a career in law
Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ..., because of his family. However, in his words, he came to have:
…an insurmountable aversion to everything but the pursuits of Philosophy and general Learning; and while y familyfanceyed I was poring over Voet and Vinnius, He had little respect for the professors of his time, telling a friend in 1735 that "there is nothing to be learnt from a Professor, which is not to be met with in Books". He did not graduate.
Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during the political crises that led to the est ... and Virgil were the Authors which I was secretly devouring.
"Disease of the learned"
Aged 18 or so, Hume made a philosophical discovery that opened up to him "a new Scene of Thought", inspiring him "to throw up every other Pleasure or Business to apply entirely to it". As he did not recount what this scene exactly was, commentators have offered a variety of speculations. One prominent interpretation among contemporary Humean scholarship is that this new "scene of thought" was Hume's realisation that Francis Hutcheson's theory of ''moral sense'' could be applied to the understanding of morality as well.
From this inspiration, Hume set out to spend a minimum of 10 years reading and writing. He soon came to the verge of a mental breakdown, first starting with a coldnesswhich he attributed to a "Laziness of Temper"that lasted about nine months. Later, some
Scurvy is a disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Early symptoms of deficiency include weakness, feeling tired and sore arms and legs. Without treatment, decreased red blood cells, gum disease, changes to hair, and bleeding ... spots broke out on his fingers, persuading Hume's physician to diagnose Hume as suffering from the "Disease of the Learned".
Hume wrote that he "went under a Course of Bitters and Anti-Hysteric Pills", taken along with a pint of claret
Bordeaux wine ( oc, vin de Bordèu, french: vin de Bordeaux) is produced in the Bordeaux region of southwest France, around the city of Bordeaux, on the Garonne River. To the north of the city the Dordogne River joins the Garonne forming th ... every day. He also decided to have a more active life to better continue his learning. His health improved somewhat, but in 1731 he was afflicted with a ravenous appetite and palpitations of the heart. After eating well for a time, he went from being "tall, lean and raw-bon'd" to being "sturdy, robust ndhealthful-like." Indeed, Hume would become well known for being obese and having a fondness for good port and cheese.
Although having noble ancestry, at 25 years of age, Hume had no source of income and no learned profession. As was common at his time, he became a
A merchant is a person who trades in commodities produced by other people, especially one who trades with foreign countries. Historically, a merchant is anyone who is involved in business or trade. Merchants have operated for as long as industr ...'s assistant, despite having to leave his native Scotland. He travelled via Bristol
Bristol () is a city, ceremonial county and unitary authority in England. Situated on the River Avon, it is bordered by the ceremonial counties of Gloucestershire to the north and Somerset to the south. Bristol is the most populous city in S ... to La Flèche in Anjou Anjou may refer to:
Geography and titles France
*County of Anjou, a historical county in France and predecessor of the Duchy of Anjou
**Count of Anjou, title of nobility
*Duchy of Anjou, a historical duchy and later a province of France
**Duke ..., France. There he had frequent discourse with the Jesuits
, image = Ihs-logo.svg
, image_size = 175px
, caption = ChristogramOfficial seal of the Jesuits
, abbreviation = SJ
, nickname = Jesuits
, formation =
, founders = ... of the College of La Flèche.
Hume was derailed in his attempts to start a university career by protests over his alleged " atheism
Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no d ...", also lamenting that his literary debut, '' A Treatise of Human Nature
'' A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'' (1739–40) is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the ...'', "fell dead-born from the press." However, he found literary success in his lifetime as an essayist, and a career as a librarian at the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals) is a public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted a royal charter by King James VI in 158 .... His tenure there, and the access to research materials it provided, resulted in Hume's writing the massive six-volume '' The History of England'', which became a bestseller and the standard history of England in its day. For over 60 years, Hume was the dominant interpreter of English history. He described his "love for literary fame" as his "ruling passion" and judged his two late works, the so-called "first" and "second" enquiries, '' An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding'' and '' An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals'', as his greatest literary and philosophical achievements. He would ask of his contemporaries to judge him on the merits of the later texts alone, rather than on the more radical formulations of his early, youthful work, dismissing his philosophical debut as juvenilia
Juvenilia are literary, musical or artistic works produced by authors during their youth. Written juvenilia, if published at all, usually appears as a retrospective publication, some time after the author has become well known for later works.
...: "A work which the Author had projected before he left College." Despite Hume's protestations, a consensus exists today that his most important arguments and philosophically distinctive doctrines are found in the original form they take in the ''Treatise''. Though he was only 23 years old when starting this work, it is now regarded as one of the most important in the history of Western philosophy
Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics. The word ' ....
Hume worked for four years on his first major work, ''
A Treatise of Human Nature
'' A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'' (1739–40) is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the ...'', subtitled "Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects", completing it in 1738 at the age of 28. Although many scholars today consider the ''Treatise'' to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in Western philosophy, critics in Great Britain
Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of ... at the time described it as "abstract and unintelligible". As Hume had spent most of his savings during those four years, he resolved "to make a very rigid frugality supply isdeficiency of fortune, to maintain unimpaired my independency, and to regard every object as contemptible except the improvements of my talents in literature". [Hume, David. 1993 ]
Despite the disappointment, Hume later wrote: "Being naturally of a cheerful and 734
Year 734 ( DCCXXXIV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 734 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar er ... " A Kind of History of My Life." In ''The Cambridge Companion to Hume'', edited by D. F. Norton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII of England, King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest university press
A university press is an academic publishing hous .... . sanguine
Sanguine () or red chalk is chalk of a reddish-brown colour, so called because it resembles the colour of dried blood. It has been popular for centuries for drawing (where white chalk only works on coloured paper). The word comes via French fr ... temper, I soon recovered from the blow and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country." There, in an attempt to make his larger work better known and more intelligible, he published the '' An Abstract of a Book lately Published'' as a summary of the main doctrines of the ''Treatise'', without revealing its authorship. Although there has been some academic speculation as to who actually wrote this pamphlet, it is generally regarded as Hume's creation.
After the publication of ''Essays Moral and Political'' in 1741included in the later edition as '' Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary''Hume applied for the Chair of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy at the
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals) is a public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted a royal charter by King James VI in 158 .... However, the position was given to William Cleghorn after Edinburgh ministers petitioned the town council not to appoint Hume because he was seen as an atheist
Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no d ....
In 1745, during the Jacobite risings
, war =
, image = Prince James Francis Edward Stuart by Louis Gabriel Blanchet.jpg
, image_size = 150px
, caption = James Francis Edward Stuart, Jacobite claimant between 1701 and 1766
, active ..., Hume tutored the Marquess of Annandale (1720–92), an engagement that ended in disarray after about a year. Hume then started his great historical work, '' The History of England'', taking fifteen years and running to over a million words. During this time he was also involved with the Canongate Theatre through his friend John Home, a preacher.
In this context, he associated with Lord Monboddo and other thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment
The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century ... in Edinburgh. From 1746, Hume served for three years as secretary to General James St Clair, who was envoy to the courts of Turin
Turin ( , Piedmontese: ; it, Torino ) is a city and an important business and cultural centre in Northern Italy. It is the capital city of Piedmont and of the Metropolitan City of Turin, and was the first Italian capital from 1861 to 1865. The ... and Vienna
, iso_code = AT-9
, registration_plate = W
, postal_code_type = Postal code
, postal_code =
, timezone = CET
, utc_offset = +1
, timezone_DST .... At that time Hume also wrote ''Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding'', later published as '' An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding''. Often called the ''First Enquiry'', it proved little more successful than the ''Treatise'', perhaps because of the publication of his short autobiography ''My Own Life'', which "made friends difficult for the first Enquiry". By the end of this period Hume had attained his well-known corpulent stature; "the good table of the General and the prolonged inactive life had done their work", leaving him "a man of tremendous bulk".
In 1749 he went to live with his brother in the countryside, although he continued to associate with the aforementioned Scottish Enlightenment
The Scottish Enlightenment ( sco, Scots Enlichtenment, gd, Soillseachadh na h-Alba) was the period in 18th- and early-19th-century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By the eighteenth century ... figures.
Hume's religious views were often suspect and, in the 1750s, it was necessary for his friends to avert a trial against him on the charge of
Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ..., specifically in an ecclesiastical court. However, he "would not have come and could not be forced to attend if he said he was not a member of the Established Church". Hume failed to gain the chair of philosophy at the University of Glasgow
, image = UofG Coat of Arms.png
, image_size = 150px
, caption = Coat of arms
, latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis
, motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita
, ... due to his religious views. By this time, he had published the ''Philosophical Essays'', which were decidedly anti-religious. Even Adam Smith, his personal friend who had vacated the Glasgow philosophy chair, was against his appointment out of concern that public opinion would be against it. In 1761 all his works were banned on the '' Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The ''Index Librorum Prohibitorum'' ("List of Prohibited Books") was a list of publications deemed heretical or contrary to morality by the Sacred Congregation of the Index (a former Dicastery of the Roman Curia), and Catholics were forbi ...''.
Hume returned to Edinburgh in 1751. In the following year, the Faculty of Advocates
The Faculty of Advocates is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise as advocates before the courts of Scotland, especially the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary. The Faculty of Advocates is a constit ... hired him to be their Librarian, a job in which he would receive little to no pay, but which nonetheless gave him "the command of a large library". ["The Faculty of Advocates chose me their Librarian, an office from which I received little or no emolument, but which gave me the command of a large library." ( Hume 1776:11).] This resource enabled him to continue historical research for ''The History of England''. Hume's volume of ''Political Discourses'', written in 1749 and published by Kincaid & Donaldson in 1752, was the only work he considered successful on first publication.
Eventually, with the publication of his six-volume ''The History of England'' between 1754 and 1762, Hume achieved the fame that he coveted. The volumes traced events from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, and was a bestseller in its day. Hume was also a longtime friend of bookseller Andrew Millar, who sold Hume's ''History'' (after acquiring the rights from Scottish bookseller Gavin Hamilton), although the relationship was sometimes complicated. Letters between them illuminate both men's interest in the success of the ''History''. In 1762 Hume moved from Jack's Land on the Canongate
The Canongate is a street and associated district in central Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland. The street forms the main eastern length of the Royal Mile while the district is the main eastern section of Edinburgh's Old Town. It began ... to James Court on the Lawnmarket
The Royal Mile () is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W. M. Gilbert's ''Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century'' (1901), de .... He sold the house to James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (; 29 October 1740 ( N.S.) – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer, diarist, and lawyer, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for his biography of his friend and older contemporary the English writer S ... in 1766.
From 1763 to 1765, Hume was invited to attend Lord Hertford in
Paris () is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), making it the 30th most densely populated city in the world in 2020. Si ..., where he became secretary to the British embassy. Hume was well received in Paris, and while there he met with Isaac de Pinto.
In 1765, Hume served as British Chargé d'affaires, writing "despatches to the British Secretary of State". He wrote of his Paris life, "I really wish often for the plain roughness of The Poker Club of Edinburgh…to correct and qualify so much lusciousness." In 1766, upon returning to Britain, Hume encouraged his patron Lord Hertford to invest in a number of slave plantations, acquired by George Colebrooke and others in the Windward Islands
french: Îles du Vent
, image_name =
, image_caption = ''Political'' Windward Islands. Clockwise: Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.
, image_alt =
, locator_map =
, location = Caribbean Sea .... In June 1766 Hume facilitated the purchase of the slave plantation by writing to Victor-Thérèse Charpentier, marquis d'Ennery, the French governor of Martinique, on behalf of his friend, John Stewart, a wine merchant and lent Stewart £400 earlier in the same year. According to Dr. Felix Waldmann, a former Hume Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Hume's "puckish scepticism about the existence of religious miracles played a significant part in defining the critical outlook which underpins the practice of modern science. But his views served to reinforce the institution of racialised slavery in the later 18th century."
In 1766, Hume left Paris to accompany Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Rev ... to England. Once there, he and Rousseau fell out, [ Scurr, Ruth. 4 November 2017. "An Enlightened Friendship." ''] leaving Hume sufficiently worried about the damage to his reputation from the quarrel with Rousseau. So much so, that Hume would author an account of the dispute, titling it ''"A concise and genuine account of the dispute between Mr. Hume and Mr. Rousseau''".
In 1767, Hume was appointed Under Secretary of State for the Northern Department. Here, he wrote that he was given "all the secrets of the Kingdom". In 1769 he returned to James' Court in Edinburgh, where he would live from 1771 until his death in 1776.
Hume's nephew and namesake, David Hume of Ninewells (1757–1838), was a co-founder of the Wall Street Journal
''The Wall Street Journal'' is an American business-focused, international daily newspaper based in New York City, with international editions also available in Chinese and Japanese. The ''Journal'', along with its Asian editions, is published ...''. Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. It is a registered charity that operates on a wholly independent and non-partisan basis and provides public benefit throughout Scotland. It was established i ... in 1783. He was a Professor of Scots Law at Edinburgh University and rose to be Principal Clerk of Session in the Scottish High Court and Baron of the Exchequer. He is buried with his uncle in Old Calton Cemetery.
In the last year of his life, Hume wrote an extremely brief autobiographical essay titled "My Own Life",
summing up his entire life in "fewer than 5 pages"; it contains many interesting judgments that have been of enduring interest to subsequent readers of Hume. [Siebert, Donald T. 1984.] Donald Seibert (1984), a scholar of 18th-century literature, judged it a "remarkable autobiography, even though it may lack the usual attractions of that genre. Anyone hankering for startling revelations or amusing anecdotes had better look elsewhere."
David Hume's Last Words: The Importance of My Own Life
" ''Studies in Scottish Literature'' 19(1):132–147. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
Despite condemning vanity as a dangerous passion, in his autobiography Hume confesses his belief that the "love of literary fame" had served as his "ruling passion" in life, and claims that this desire "never soured my temper, notwithstanding my frequent disappointments". One such disappointment Hume discusses in this account is in the initial literary reception of the ''Treatise'', which he claims to have overcome by means of the success of the ''Essays'': "the work was favourably received, and soon made me entirely forget my former disappointment". Hume, in his own retrospective judgment, argues that his philosophical debut's apparent failure "had proceeded more from the manner than the matter". He thus suggests that "I had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion, in going to the press too early."
Hume also provides an unambiguous self-assessment of the relative value of his works: that "my Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals; which, in my own opinion (who ought not to judge on that subject) is of all my writings, historical, philosophical, or literary, incomparably the best." He also wrote of his social relations: "My company was not unacceptable to the young and careless, as well as to the studious and literary", noting of his complex relation to religion, as well as to the state, that "though I wantonly exposed myself to the rage of both civil and religious factions, they seemed to be disarmed in my behalf of their wonted fury". He goes on to profess of his character: "My friends never had occasion to vindicate any one circumstance of my character and conduct." Hume concludes the essay with a frank admission:
I cannot say there is no vanity in making this funeral oration of myself, but I hope it is not a misplaced one; and this is a matter of fact which is easily cleared and ascertained.
Diarist and biographer
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (; 29 October 1740 ( N.S.) – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer, diarist, and lawyer, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for his biography of his friend and older contemporary the English writer S ... saw Hume a few weeks before his death from a form of abdominal cancer. Hume told him that he sincerely believed it a "most unreasonable fancy" that there might be life after death. Hume asked that his body be interred in a "simple Roman tomb", requesting in his will
Will may refer to:
* Will and testament, instructions for the disposition of one's property after death
* Will (philosophy), or willpower
* Will (sociology)
* Will, volition (psychology)
* Will, a modal verb - see Shall and w ... that it be inscribed only with his name and the year of his birth and death, "leaving it to Posterity to add the Rest".
David Hume died at the southwest corner of St. Andrew's Square in Edinburgh's New Town
New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created.
New or NEW may refer to:
* New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz
Albums and EPs
* ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartney, 2013
* ''New'' (EP), by Regurgitator, ..., at what is now 21 Saint David Street. A popular story, consistent with some historical evidence, suggests that the street was named after Hume.
His tomb stands, as he wished it, on the southwestern slope of Calton Hill
Calton Hill () is a hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, situated beyond the east end of Princes Street and included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Views of, and from, the hill are often used in photographs and paintings of the ci ..., in the Old Calton Cemetery. Adam Smith later recounted Hume's amusing speculation that he might ask Charon
In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (; grc, Χάρων) is a psychopomp, the ferryman of Hades, the Greek underworld. He carries the souls of those who have been given funeral rites across the rivers Acheron and Styx, which separate the wo ..., Hades
Hades (; grc-gre, ᾍδης, Háidēs; ), in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, with which his name became synonymous. Hades was the eldest son of Cronus and Rhea, although this also m ...' ferryman, to allow him a few more years of life in order to see "the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of superstition". The ferryman replied, "You loitering rogue, that will not happen these many hundred years.… Get into the boat this instant."
A Treatise of Human Nature
'' A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'' (1739–40) is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the ...'' begins with the introduction: "'Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, more or less, to human nature.… Even Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and Natural Religion, are in some measure dependent on the science of Man." The science of man, as Hume explains, is the "only solid foundation for the other sciences" and that the method for this science requires both experience and observation as the foundations of a logical argument. In regards to this, philosophical historian Frederick Copleston
Frederick Charles Copleston (10 April 1907 – 3 February 1994) was an English Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, philosopher, and historian of philosophy, best known for his influential multi-volume '' A History of Philosophy'' (1946–75).
Co ... (1999) suggests that it was Hume's aim to apply to the science of man the method of experimental philosophy (the term that was current at the time to imply natural philosophy
Natural philosophy or philosophy of nature (from Latin ''philosophia naturalis'') is the philosophical study of physics, that is, nature and the physical universe. It was dominant before the development of modern science.
From the ancient wo ...), and that "Hume's plan is to extend to philosophy in general the methodological limitations of Newtonian physics
Classical mechanics is a physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. For objects governed by classical mec ...."
Until recently, Hume was seen as a forerunner of logical positivism
Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion o ..., a form of anti- metaphysical
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality, the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity, and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consci ... empiricism. According to the logical positivists (in summary of their verification principle), unless a statement could be verified by experience, or else was true or false by definition (i.e. either tautological or contradictory
In traditional logic, a contradiction occurs when a proposition conflicts either with itself or established fact. It is often used as a tool to detect disingenuous beliefs and bias. Illustrating a general tendency in applied logic, Aristotle's ...), then it was meaningless. Hume, on this view, was a proto-positivist, who, in his philosophical writings, attempted to demonstrate the ways in which ordinary propositions about objects, causal relations, the self, and so on, are semantically equivalent to propositions about one's experiences.
Many commentators have since rejected this understanding of Humean empiricism, stressing an epistemological
Epistemology (; ), or the theory of knowledge, is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major subfields such as ethics, logic, and metaphysics.
Epist ... (rather than a semantic
Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference, meaning, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and comput ...) reading of his project. [For example, see ; ; and .] According to this opposing view, Hume's empiricism consisted in the idea that it is our knowledge, and not our ability to conceive, that is restricted to what can be experienced. Hume thought that we can form beliefs about that which extends beyond any possible experience, through the operation of faculties such as custom and the imagination, but he was sceptical about claims to knowledge on this basis.
Impressions and ideas
A central doctrine of Hume's philosophy, stated in the very first lines of the '' Treatise of Human Nature'', is that the mind consists of perceptions, or the mental objects which are present to it, and which divide into two categories: "All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds, which I shall call and ." Hume believed that it would "not be very necessary to employ many words in explaining this distinction", which commentators have generally taken to mean the distinction between ''
Feelings are subjective self-contained phenomenal experiences. According to the ''APA Dictionary of Psychology'', a feeling is "a self-contained phenomenal experience"; and feelings are "subjective, evaluative, and independent of the sensation ...'' and '' thinking
In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, reasoning, concept formation, problem solving, an ...''. [Garrett, Don. 2002. ''Cognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. .] Controversially, Hume, in some sense, may regard the distinction as a matter of degree, as he takes ''impressions'' to be distinguished from ideas on the basis of their force, liveliness, and vivacitywhat Henry E. Allison (2008) calls the "FLV criterion." [ Allison, Henry E. 2008. ''Custom and Reason in Hume: A Kantian Reading of the First Book of the Treatise''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. .] ''Ideas'' are therefore "faint" impressions. For example, experiencing the painful sensation of touching a hot pan's handle is more forceful than simply thinking about touching a hot pan. According to Hume, ''impressions'' are meant to be the original form of all our ideas. From this, Don Garrett (2002) has coined the term ''copy principle, '' referring to Hume's doctrine that all ideas are ultimately copied from some original impression, whether it be a passion or sensation, from which they derive.
Simple and complex
After establishing the forcefulness of impressions and ideas, these two categories are further broken down into ''simple'' and ''complex'': "simple perceptions or impressions and ideas are such as admit of no distinction nor separation", whereas "the complex are the contrary to these, and may be distinguished into parts".
[Hume, David. 1739] When looking at an apple, a person experiences a variety of colour-sensationswhat Hume notes as a complex impression. Similarly, a person experiences a variety of taste-sensations, tactile-sensations, and smell-sensations when biting into an apple, with the overall sensationagain, a complex impression. Thinking about an apple allows a person to form complex ideas, which are made of similar parts as the complex impressions they were developed from, but which are also less forceful. Hume believes that complex perceptions can be broken down into smaller and smaller parts until perceptions are reached that have no parts of their own, and these perceptions are thus referred to as simple.
''A Treatise of Human Nature'' 1
London: John Noon. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
Principles of association
Regardless of how boundless it may seem, a person's imagination is confined to the mind's ability to recombine the information it has already acquired from the body's sensory experience (the ideas that have been derived from impressions). In addition, "as our imagination takes our most basic ideas and leads us to form new ones, it is directed by three principles of association, namely, resemblance, contiguity, and cause and effect":
* The principle of resemblance refers to the tendency of ideas to become associated if the objects they represent resemble one another. For example, someone looking at an illustration of a flower can conceive an idea of the physical flower because the idea of the illustrated object is associated with the physical object's idea.
* The principle of contiguity describes the tendency of ideas to become associated if the objects they represent are near to each other in time or space, such as when the thought of a crayon in a box leads one to think of the crayon contiguous to it.
* The principle of cause and effect refers to the tendency of ideas to become associated if the objects they represent are causally related, which explains how remembering a broken window can make someone think of a ball that had caused the window to shatter.
Hume elaborates more on the last principle, explaining that, when somebody observes that one object or event consistently produces the same object or event, that results in "an expectation that a particular event (a 'cause') will be followed by another event (an 'effect') previously and constantly associated with it".
[Norton, David Fate. 1999 993]
" Pp. 398–403 in ''
Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
''The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy'' (1995; second edition 1999; third edition 2015) is a dictionary of philosophy published by Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambri ...'' (2nd ed.), edited by R. Audi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII of England, King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest university press
A university press is an academic publishing hous .... Retrieved 18 May 2020. – via Gale
A gale is a strong wind; the word is typically used as a descriptor in nautical contexts. The U.S. National Weather Service defines a gale as sustained surface winds moving at a speed of between 34 and 47 knots (, or ).
[Hume, David. 1990 ] However, even though custom can serve as a guide in life, it still only represents an expectation. In other words: 748
Year 748 ( DCCXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 748 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calend ... '' An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding''. New York: Anchor
An anchor is a device, normally made of metal , used to secure a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ''ancora'', which itself comes from the Greek ἄγ .../ Doubleday.
Experience cannot establish a necessary connection between cause and effect, because we can imagine without contradiction a case where the cause does not produce its usual effect…the reason why we mistakenly infer that there is something in the cause that necessarily produces its effect is because our past experiences have habituated us to think in this way. Continuing this idea, Hume argues that "only in the pure realm of ideas, logic, and mathematics, not contingent on the direct sense awareness of reality, ancausation safely…be applied—all other sciences are reduced to probability".
He uses this scepticism to reject metaphysics and many theological views on the basis that they are not grounded in fact and observations, and are therefore beyond the reach of human understanding.
Induction and causation
The cornerstone of Hume's epistemology is the
problem of induction
First formulated by David Hume, the problem of induction questions our reasons for believing that the future will resemble the past, or more broadly it questions predictions about unobserved things based on previous observations. This infere .... This may be the area of Hume's thought where his scepticism about human powers of reason is most pronounced. The problem revolves around the plausibility of inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning in which a general principle is derived from a body of observations. It consists of making broad generalizations based on specific observations. Inductive reasoning is distinct from ''deductive'' r ..., that is, reasoning from the observed behaviour of objects to their behaviour when unobserved. As Hume wrote, induction concerns how things behave when they go "beyond the present testimony of the senses, or the records of our memory". Hume argues that we tend to believe that things behave in a regular manner, meaning that patterns in the behaviour of objects seem to persist into the future, and throughout the unobserved present. Hume's argument is that we cannot rationally justify the claim that nature will continue to be uniform, as justification comes in only two varieties—demonstrative reasoning and probable reasoning [These are Hume's terms. In modern parlance, ''demonstration'' may be termed '']—and both of these are inadequate. With regard to demonstrative reasoning, Hume argues that the uniformity principle cannot be demonstrated, as it is "consistent and conceivable" that nature might stop being regular. Turning to probable reasoning, Hume argues that we cannot hold that nature will continue to be uniform because it has been in the past. As this is using the very sort of reasoning (induction) that is under question, it would be deductive reasoning
Deductive reasoning is the mental process of drawing deductive inferences. An inference is deductively valid if its conclusion follows logically from its premises, i.e. if it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be fal ...'', while ''probability'' may be termed '' inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning in which a general principle is derived from a body of observations. It consists of making broad generalizations based on specific observations. Inductive reasoning is distinct from ''deductive'' r ...''.
Millican, Peter. 1996.
Hume, Induction and Probability
University of Leeds
, mottoeng = And knowledge will be increased
, established = 1831 – Leeds School of Medicine1874 – Yorkshire College of Science1884 - Yorkshire College1887 – affiliated to the federal Victoria University1904 – University of Leeds
, .... Archived from th
on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
Circular may refer to:
* The shape of a circle
* ''Circular'' (album), a 2006 album by Spanish singer Vega
* Circular letter (disambiguation)
** Flyer (pamphlet)
A flyer (or flier) is a form of paper
Paper is a thin sheet material pro .... Thus, no form of justification will rationally warrant our inductive inferences.
Hume's solution to this problem is to argue that, rather than reason, natural instinct explains the human practice of making inductive inferences. He asserts that "Nature, by an absolute and uncontroulable 'sic''.html" ;"title="sic.html" ;"title="'sic">'sic''">sic.html" ;"title="'sic">'sic''necessity has determin'd us to judge as well as to breathe and feel." In 1985, and in agreement with Hume, John D. Kenyon writes:
Reason might manage to raise a doubt about the truth of a conclusion of natural inductive inference just for a moment ... but the sheer agreeableness of animal faith will protect us from excessive caution and sterile suspension of belief.Others, such as Charles Sanders Peirce, have demurred from Hume's solution, while some, such as Kant and Karl Popper, have thought that Hume's analysis has "posed a most fundamental challenge to all human knowledge claims".
The notion of causation is closely linked to the problem of induction. According to Hume, we reason inductively by associating constantly conjoined events. It is the mental act of association that is the basis of our concept of causation. At least three interpretations of Hume's theory of causation are represented in the literature:
Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion o ...;
# the sceptical realist; and
# the quasi-realist.
Hume acknowledged that there are events constantly unfolding, and humanity cannot guarantee that these events are caused by prior events or are independent instances. He opposed the widely accepted theory of causation that 'all events have a specific course or reason'. Therefore, Hume crafted his own theory of causation, formed through his empiricist and sceptic beliefs. He split causation into two realms: "All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact." Relations of Ideas are ''a priori'' and represent universal bonds between ideas that mark the cornerstones of human thought. Matters of Fact are dependent on the observer and experience. They are often not universally held to be true among multiple persons. Hume was an Empiricist, meaning he believed "causes and effects are discoverable not by reason, but by experience". He goes on to say that, even with the perspective of the past, humanity cannot dictate future events because thoughts of the past are limited, compared to the possibilities for the future. Hume's separation between Matters of Fact and Relations of Ideas is often referred to as " Hume's fork." [Morris, William Edward, and Charlotte R. Brown. 2019 ]
Hume explains his theory of causation and causal inference by division into three different parts. In these three branches he explains his ideas and compares and contrasts his views to his predecessors. These branches are the Critical Phase, the Constructive Phase, and Belief. 001 001, O01, or OO1 may refer to:
*1 (number), a number, a numeral
*001, fictional British agent, see 00 Agent
*001, former emergency telephone number for the Norwegian fire brigade (until 1986)
*AM-RB 001, the code-name for the Aston Martin Valkyr ...
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''SEP'') combines an online encyclopedia of philosophy with peer-reviewed publication of original papers in philosophy, freely accessible to Internet users. It is maintained by Stanford University. Eac ...''. Stanford: Metaphysics Research Lab. Retrieved 18 May 2020. ["Davidhume.org." Texts – An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748, 1777). Web. 19 March 2017.] In the Critical Phase, Hume denies his predecessors' theories of causation. Next, he uses the Constructive Phase to resolve any doubts the reader may have had while observing the Critical Phase. "Habit or Custom" mends the gaps in reasoning that occur without the human mind even realising it. Associating ideas has become second nature to the human mind. It "makes us expect for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared in the past". However, Hume says that this association cannot be trusted because the span of the human mind to comprehend the past is not necessarily applicable to the wide and distant future. This leads him to the third branch of causal inference, Belief. Belief is what drives the human mind to hold that expectancy of the future is based on past experience. Throughout his explanation of causal inference, Hume is arguing that the future is not certain to be repetition of the past and that the only way to justify induction is through uniformity.
The logical positivist
Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion o ... interpretation is that Hume analyses causal propositions, such as "A causes B", in terms of regularities in perception: "A causes B" is equivalent to "Whenever A-type events happen, B-type ones follow", where "whenever" refers to all possible perceptions. In his ''Treatise of Human Nature'', Hume wrote:
Power and necessity…are…qualities of perceptions, not of objects…felt by the soul and not perceiv'd externally in bodies.
This view is rejected by sceptical realists, who argue that Hume thought that causation amounts to more than just the regular succession of events.
Hume said that, when two events are causally conjoined, a necessary connection underpins the conjunction:
Shall we rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By no means…there is a ''necessary connexion'' to be taken into consideration.
Angela Coventry writes that, for Hume, "there is nothing in any particular instance of cause and effect involving external objects which suggests the idea of power or necessary connection" and "we are ignorant of the powers that operate between objects". However, while denying the possibility of knowing the powers between objects, Hume accepted the causal principle, writing: "I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause."
It has been argued that, while Hume did not think that causation is reducible to pure regularity, he was not a fully fledged realist either.
Simon Blackburn (born 12 July 1944) is an English academic philosopher known for his work in metaethics, where he defends quasi-realism, and in the philosophy of language; more recently, he has gained a large general audience from his effor ... calls this a quasi-realist reading, saying that "Someone talking of cause is voicing a distinct mental set: he is by no means in the same state as someone merely describing regular sequences." In Hume's words, "nothing is more usual than to apply to external bodies every internal sensation, which they occasion".
Empiricist philosophers, such as Hume and Berkeley, favoured the
Bundle theory, originated by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, is the ontological theory about objecthood in which an object consists only of a collection (''bundle'') of properties, relations or tropes.
According to bundle th ... of personal identity
Personal identity is the unique numerical identity of a person over time. Discussions regarding personal identity typically aim to determine the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and a person at another time ca .... In this theory, "the mind itself, far from being an independent power, is simply 'a bundle of perceptions' without unity or cohesive quality". The self is nothing but a bundle of experiences linked by the relations of causation and resemblance; or, more accurately, the empirically warranted idea of the self is just the idea of such a bundle. According to Hume:
This view is supported by, for example, positivist interpreters, who have seen Hume as suggesting that terms such as "self", "person", or "mind" refer to collections of "sense-contents". A modern-day version of the bundle theory of the mind has been advanced by Derek Parfit
Derek Antony Parfit (; 11 December 1942 – 1 or 2 January 2017) was a British philosopher who specialised in personal identity, rationality, and ethics. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential moral philosophers of t ... in his '' Reasons and Persons
''Reasons and Persons'' is a 1984 book by the philosopher Derek Parfit, in which the author discusses ethics, rationality and personal identity.
It is divided into four parts, dedicated to self-defeating theories, rationality and time, person ...''.
However, some philosophers have criticised Hume's bundle-theory interpretation of personal identity. They argue that distinct selves can have perceptions that stand in relation to similarity and causality. Thus, perceptions must already come parcelled into distinct "bundles" before they can be associated according to the relations of similarity and causality. In other words, the mind must already possess a unity that cannot be generated, or constituted, by these relations alone. Since the bundle-theory interpretation portrays Hume as answering an ontological
In metaphysics, ontology is the philosophical study of being, as well as related concepts such as existence, becoming, and reality.
Ontology addresses questions like how entities are grouped into categories and which of these entities exi ... question, philosophers like Galen Strawson
Galen John Strawson (born 1952) is a British analytic philosopher and literary critic who works primarily on philosophy of mind, metaphysics (including free will, panpsychism, the mind-body problem, and the self), John Locke, David Hume, Imm ... see Hume as not very concerned with such questions and have queried whether this view is really Hume's. Instead, Strawson suggests that Hume might have been answering an epistemological question about the causal origin of our concept of the self. In the Appendix to the ''Treatise'', Hume declares himself dissatisfied with his earlier account of personal identity in Book 1. Corliss Swain notes that "Commentators agree that if Hume did find some new problem" when he reviewed the section on personal identity, "he wasn't forthcoming about its nature in the Appendix." One interpretation of Hume's view of the self, argued for by philosopher and psychologist James Giles, is that Hume is not arguing for a bundle theory, which is a form of reductionism, but rather for an eliminative view of the self. Rather than reducing the self to a bundle of perceptions, Hume rejects the idea of the self altogether. On this interpretation, Hume is proposing a " no-self theory" and thus has much in common with Buddhist thought (see '' anattā
In Buddhism, the term ''anattā'' (Pali: अनत्ता) or ''anātman'' (Sanskrit: अनात्मन्) refers to the doctrine of "non-self" – that no unchanging, permanent self or essence can be found in any phenomenon. While often ...''). Psychologist Alison Gopnik has argued that Hume was in a position to learn about Buddhist thought during his time in France in the 1730s.
'' Practical reason'' relates to whether standards or principles exist that are also authoritative for all rational beings, dictating people's intentions and actions. Hume is mainly considered an anti-rationalist, denying the possibility for practical reason, although other philosophers such as Christine Korsgaard, Jean Hampton, and Elijah Millgram claim that Hume is not so much of an anti-rationalist as he is just a sceptic of practical reason.
Hume denied the existence of practical reason as a principle because he claimed reason does not have any effect on morality, since morality is capable of producing effects in people that reason alone cannot create. As Hume explains in ''
A Treatise of Human Nature
'' A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'' (1739–40) is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the ...'' (1740):
Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason."Since practical reason is supposed to regulate our actions (in theory), Hume denied practical reason on the grounds that reason cannot directly oppose passions. As Hume puts it, "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." Reason is less significant than any passion because reason has no original influence, while "A passion is an original existence, or, if you will, modification of existence."
Practical reason is also concerned with the value of actions rather than the truth of propositions, so Hume believed that reason's shortcoming of affecting morality proved that practical reason could not be authoritative for all rational beings, since morality was essential for dictating people's intentions and actions.
Hume's writings on ethics began in the 1740 ''
A treatise is a formal and systematic written discourse on some subject, generally longer and treating it in greater depth than an essay, and more concerned with investigating or exposing the principles of the subject and its conclusions." Tr ...'' and were refined in his '' An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals'' (1751). He understood ''feeling'', rather than ''knowing'', as that which governs ethical actions, stating that "moral decisions are grounded in moral sentiment." Arguing that reason cannot be behind morality, he wrote:
Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.
Hume's ''moral sentimentalism'' was shared by his close friend Adam Smith, and the two were mutually influenced by the moral reflections of their older contemporary, Francis Hutcheson.
Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher, currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secula ... claims that Hume's argument that morals cannot have a rational basis alone "would have been enough to earn him a place in the history of ethics."
Hume also put forward the '' is–ought problem
The is–ought problem, as articulated by the Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume, arises when one makes claims about what ''ought'' to be that are based solely on statements about what ''is''. Hume found that there seems to be a signi ...'', later known as ''Hume's Law'', denying the possibility of logically deriving what ''ought'' to be from what ''is''. According to the ''Treatise'' (1740), in every system of morality that Hume has read, the author begins by stating facts about the world as it ''is'' but always ends up suddenly referring to what ''ought'' to be the case. Hume demands that a reason should be given for inferring what ''ought to be'' the case, from ''what is'' the case. This is because it "seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others."
Hume's theory of ethics has been influential in modern-day meta-ethical theory, helping to inspire emotivism
Emotivism is a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes. Hence, it is colloquially known as the hurrah/boo theory. Influenced by the growth of analytic philosophy and logical posi ..., and ethical expressivism
In meta-ethics, expressivism is a theory about the meaning of moral language. According to expressivism, sentences that employ moral terms – for example, "It is wrong to torture an innocent human being" – are not descriptive or fact-stating; ... and non-cognitivism
Non-cognitivism is the meta-ethical view that ethical sentences do not express propositions (i.e., statements) and thus cannot be true or false (they are not truth-apt). A noncognitivist denies the cognitivist claim that "moral judgments are ..., as well as Allan Gibbard
Allan may refer to:
* Allan (name), a given name and surname, including list of people and characters with this name
* Allan (footballer, born 1984) (Allan Barreto da Silva), Brazilian football striker
* Allan (footballer, born 1989) (A ...'s general theory of moral judgment and judgments of rationality.
Hume's ideas about aesthetics and the
theory of art
A theory of art is intended to contrast with a definition of art. Traditionally, ''definitions'' are composed of necessary and sufficient conditions and a single counterexample overthrows such a definition. ''Theorizing'' about art, on the othe ... are spread throughout his works, but are particularly connected with his ethical writings, and also the essays " Of the Standard of Taste" and " Of Tragedy" (1757). His views are rooted in the work of Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison (1 May 1672 – 17 June 1719) was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. He was the eldest son of The Reverend Lancelot Addison. His name is usually remembered alongside that of his long-standing friend Richard ... and Francis Hutcheson. In the ''Treatise'' (1740), he touches on the connection between beauty & deformity and vice & virtue. His later writings on the subject continue to draw parallels of beauty and deformity in art with conduct and character.
In "Standard of Taste", Hume argues that no rules can be drawn up about what is a tasteful object. However, a reliable critic of taste can be recognised as objective, sensible and unprejudiced, and as having extensive experience. "Of Tragedy" addresses the question of why humans enjoy tragic drama. Hume was concerned with the way spectators find pleasure in the sorrow and anxiety depicted in a tragedy. He argued that this was because the spectator is aware that he is witnessing a dramatic performance. There is pleasure in realising that the terrible events that are being shown are actually fiction. Furthermore, Hume laid down rules for educating people in taste and correct conduct, and his writings in this area have been very influential on English and Anglo-Saxon aesthetics.
Free will, determinism, and responsibility
Hume, along with
Thomas Hobbes ( ; 5/15 April 1588 – 4/14 December 1679) was an English philosopher, considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy. Hobbes is best known for his 1651 book ''Leviathan'', in which he expounds an influen ..., is cited as a classical compatibilist about the notions of freedom
Freedom is understood as either having the ability to act or change without constraint or to possess the power and resources to fulfill one's purposes unhindered. Freedom is often associated with liberty and autonomy in the sense of "giving o ... and determinism
Determinism is a philosophical view, where all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have developed from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and cons .... '' Compatibilism
Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent.
Compatibilists believe that freedom can be present or absent in situations for ...'' seeks to reconcile human freedom with the mechanist view that human beings are part of a deterministic universe, which is completely governed by physical law
Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiments or observations, that describe or predict a range of natural phenomena. The term ''law'' has diverse usage in many cases (approximate, accurate, broad, or narrow ...s. Hume, on this point, was influenced greatly by the scientific revolution, particularly by Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, and author (described in his time as a " natural philosopher"), widely recognised as one of the g .... Hume argued that the dispute between freedom and determinism continued over 2000 years due to ambiguous terminology. He wrote: "From this circumstance alone, that a controversy has been long kept on foot…we may presume that there is some ambiguity in the expression," and that different disputants use different meanings for the same terms.
Hume defines the concept of necessity as "the uniformity, observable in the operations of nature; where similar objects are constantly conjoined together," and liberty
Liberty is the ability to do as one pleases, or a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant (i.e. privilege). It is a synonym for the word freedom.
In modern politics, liberty is understood as the state of being free within society f ... as "a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will." He then argues that, according to these definitions, not only are the two compatible, but liberty ''requires'' necessity. For if our actions were not necessitated in the above sense, they would "have so little in connexion with motives, inclinations and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other." But if our actions are not thus connected to the will, then our actions can never be free: they would be matters of "chance; which is universally allowed to have no existence." Australian philosopher John Passmore
John Passmore AC (9 September 1914 – 25 July 2004) was an Australian philosopher.
John Passmore was born on 9 September 1914 in Manly, Sydney, where he grew up. He was educated at Sydney Boys High School. Sydney High School Old Boys ... writes that confusion has arisen because "necessity" has been taken to mean "necessary connexion." Once this has been abandoned, Hume argues that "liberty and necessity will be found not to be in conflict one with another."
Moreover, Hume goes on to argue that in order to be held morally responsible
In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission in accordance with one's moral obligations.
Deciding what (if anything) counts as "morally obligatory" is a pr ..., it is required that our behaviour be caused or necessitated, for, as he wrote:
Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and perishing; and where they proceed not from some ''cause'' in the character and disposition of the person who performed them, they can neither redound to his honour, if good; nor infamy, if evil.
Hume describes the link between causality and our capacity to rationally make a decision from this an inference of the mind. Human beings assess a situation based upon certain predetermined events and from that form a choice. Hume believes that this choice is made spontaneously. Hume calls this form of decision making the liberty of spontaneity.
Education writer Richard Wright considers that Hume's position rejects a famous moral puzzle attributed to French philosopher Jean Buridan. The Buridan's ass puzzle describes a donkey that is hungry. This donkey has separate bales of hay on both sides, which are of equal distances from him. The problem concerns which bale the donkey chooses. Buridan was said to believe that the donkey would die, because he has no autonomy. The donkey is incapable of forming a rational decision as there is no motive to choose one bale of hay over the other. However, human beings are different, because a human who is placed in a position where he is forced to choose one loaf of bread over another will make a decision to take one in lieu of the other. For Buridan, humans have the capacity of autonomy, and he recognises the choice that is ultimately made will be based on chance, as both loaves of bread are exactly the same. However, Wright says that Hume completely rejects this notion, arguing that a human will spontaneously act in such a situation because he is faced with impending death if he fails to do so. Such a decision is not made on the basis of chance, but rather on necessity and spontaneity, given the prior predetermined events leading up to the predicament.
Hume's argument is supported by modern-day compatibilists such as R. E. Hobart, a pseudonym of philosopher Dickinson S. Miller. However, P. F. Strawson argued that the issue of whether we hold one another morally responsible does not ultimately depend on the truth or falsity of a metaphysical thesis such as determinism. This is because our so holding one another is a non-rational human sentiment that is not predicated on such theses.
Philosopher Paul Russell (2005) contends that Hume wrote "on almost every central question in the philosophy of religion", and that these writings "are among the most important and influential contributions on this topic."
Touching on the philosophy, psychology, history, and anthropology of religious thought, Hume's 1757 dissertation " The Natural History of Religion" argues that the monotheistic
Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity, an all-supreme being that is universally referred to as God. Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxfo ... religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all derive from earlier polytheistic
Polytheism is the belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religious sects and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, th ... religions. He went on to suggest that all religious belief "traces, in the end, to dread of the unknown". Hume had also written on religious subjects in the first ''Enquiry'', as well as later in the '' Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion''.
Although he wrote a great deal about religion, Hume's personal views have been the subject of much debate.
[For example, see ; ; and .] Some modern critics have described Hume's religious views as agnostic
Agnosticism is the view or belief that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. (page 56 in 1967 edition) Another definition provided is the view that "human reason is incapable of providing sufficien ... or have described him as a " Pyrrhonian skeptic". Contemporaries considered him to be an atheist
Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there no d ..., or at least un-Christian, enough so that the Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland ( sco, The Kirk o Scotland; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba) is the national church in Scotland.
The Church of Scotland was principally shaped by John Knox, in the Reformation of 1560, when it split from the Catholic Church an ... seriously considered bringing charges of infidelity against him. Evidence of his un-Christian beliefs can especially be found in his writings on miracles, in which he attempts to separate historical method from the narrative accounts of miracles. Nevertheless, modern scholars have tended to dismiss the claims of Hume's contemporaries describing him as an atheist as coming from religiously intolerant people who did not understand Hume’s philosophy. The fact that contemporaries suspected him of atheism is exemplified by a story Hume liked to tell:
The best theologian he ever met, he used to say, was the old Edinburgh fishwife who, having recognized him as Hume the atheist, refused to pull him out of the bog into which he had fallen until he declared he was a Christian and repeated the Lord's prayer.
However, in works such as "Of Superstition and Enthusiasm", Hume specifically seems to support the standard religious views of his time and place.
[Hume, David. 1777 741] This still meant that he could be very critical of the Catholic Church, dismissing it with the standard
Of Superstition and Enthusiasm
" Essay X in
Essays Moral, Political, and Literary (1742–1754)
'' Retrieved 19 May 2020
Liberty Fund edition
Protestantism is a branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Protestant Reformation, a movement that began seeking to reform the Catholic Church from within in the 16th century against what its followers perceived to b ... accusations of superstition and idolatry, as well as dismissing as idolatry what his compatriots saw as uncivilised beliefs. He also considered extreme Protestant sects, the members of which he called "enthusiasts", to be corrupters of religion. By contrast, in " The Natural History of Religion", Hume presents arguments suggesting that polytheism
Polytheism is the belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religious sects and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism ... had much to commend it over monotheism
Monotheism is the belief that there is only one deity, an all-supreme being that is universally referred to as God. Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A., eds. (1974). "Monotheism". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxfor .... Additionally, when mentioning religion as a factor in his ''History of England'', Hume uses it to show the deleterious effect it has on human progress. In his '' Treatise of Human Nature'', Hume wrote: "Generally speaking, the errors in religions are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
Lou Reich (1998) argues that Hume was a religious naturalist and rejects interpretations of Hume as an atheist. Paul Russell (2008) writes that Hume was plainly sceptical about religious belief, although perhaps not to the extent of complete atheism. He suggests that Hume's position is best characterised by the term " irreligion
Irreligion or nonreligion is the absence or rejection of religion, or indifference to it. Irreligion takes many forms, ranging from the casual and unaware to full-fledged philosophies such as atheism and agnosticism, secular humanism and anti ...," while philosopher David O'Connor (2013) argues that Hume's final position was "weakly deistic
Deism ( or ; derived from the Latin '' deus'', meaning " god") is the philosophical position and rationalistic theology that generally rejects revelation as a source of divine knowledge, and asserts that empirical reason and observati ...". For O'Connor, Hume's "position is deeply ironic. This is because, while inclining towards a weak form of deism
Deism ( or ; derived from the Latin '' deus'', meaning "god") is the philosophical position and rationalistic theology that generally rejects revelation as a source of divine knowledge, and asserts that empirical reason and observation of ..., he seriously doubts that we can ever find a sufficiently favourable balance of evidence to justify accepting any religious position." He adds that Hume "did not believe in the God of standard theism ... but he did not rule out all concepts of deity", and that "ambiguity suited his purposes, and this creates difficulty in definitively pinning down his final position on religion".
One of the traditional topics of natural theology is that of the
existence of God
The existence of God (or more generally, the existence of deities) is a subject of debate in theology, philosophy of religion and popular culture. A wide variety of arguments for and against the existence of God or deities can be categorized ..., and one of the '' a posteriori'' arguments for this is the ''argument from design'' or the teleological argument
The teleological argument (from ; also known as physico-theological argument, argument from design, or intelligent design argument) is an argument for the existence of God or, more generally, that complex functionality in the natural world wh .... The argument is that the existence of God can be proved by the design that is obvious in the complexity of the world, which '' Encyclopædia Britannica
The (Latin for "British Encyclopædia") is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia. It is published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.; the company has existed since the 18th century, although it has changed ownership various tim ...'' states is "the most popular", because it is: [ RE]
…the most accessible of the theistic arguments ... which identifies evidences of design in nature, inferring from them a divine designer ... The fact that the universe as a whole is a coherent and efficiently functioning system likewise, in this view, indicates a divine intelligence behind it.In '' An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding'', Hume wrote that the design argument seems to depend upon our experience, and its proponents "always suppose the universe, an effect quite singular and unparalleled, to be the proof of a Deity, a cause no less singular and unparalleled". Philosopher Louise E. Loeb (2010) notes that Hume is saying that only experience and observation can be our guide to making inferences about the conjunction between events. However, according to Hume:
We observe neither God nor other universes, and hence no conjunction involving them. There is no observed conjunction to ground an inference either to extended objects or to God, as unobserved causes.Hume also criticised the argument in his '' Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion'' (1779). In this, he suggested that, even if the world is a more or less smoothly functioning system, this may only be a result of the "chance permutations of particles falling into a temporary or permanent self-sustaining order, which thus has the appearance of design".
A century later, the idea of order without design was rendered more plausible by Charles Darwin's discovery that the adaptations of the forms of life result from the natural selection
Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution
Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations ... of inherited characteristics. For philosopher James D. Madden, it is "Hume, rivaled only by Darwin, hohas done the most to undermine in principle our confidence in arguments from design among all figures in the Western intellectual tradition".
Finally, Hume discussed a version of the anthropic principle
The anthropic principle, also known as the "observation selection effect", is the hypothesis, first proposed in 1957 by Robert Dicke, that there is a restrictive lower bound on how statistically probable our observations of the universe are, bec ..., which is the idea that theories of the universe are constrained by the need to allow for man's existence in it as an observer. Hume has his sceptical mouthpiece Philo suggest that there may have been many worlds, produced by an incompetent designer, whom he called a "stupid mechanic". In his ''Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion'', Hume wrote:
Many worlds might have been botched and bungled throughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out: much labour lost: many fruitless trials made: and a slow, but continued improvement carried on during infinite ages in the art of world-making.
Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields rela ... has suggested that this mechanical explanation of teleology, although "obviously ... an amusing philosophical fantasy", anticipated the notion of natural selection, the 'continued improvement' being like "any Darwinian selection algorithm".
Problem of miracles
In his discussion of
A miracle is an event that is inexplicable by natural or scientific lawsOne dictionary define"Miracle"as: "A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a div ...s, Hume argues that we should not believe miracles have occurred and that they do not therefore provide us with any reason to think God exists. In ''An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding'' (Section 10), Hume defines a miracle as "a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent". Hume says we believe an event that has frequently occurred is likely to occur again, but we also take into account those instances where the event did not occur:
A wise man ... considers which side is supported by the greater number of experiments. ... A hundred instances or experiments on one side, and fifty on another, afford a doubtful expectation of any event; though a hundred uniform experiments, with only one that is contradictory, reasonably beget a pretty strong degree of assurance. In all cases, we must balance the opposite experiments ... and deduct the smaller number from the greater, in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence.
Hume discusses the testimony of those who report miracles. He wrote that testimony might be doubted even from some great authority in case the facts themselves are not credible: " e evidence, resulting from the testimony, admits of a diminution, greater or less, in proportion as the fact is more or less unusual."
Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history. He points out that people often lie, and they have good reasons to lie about miracles occurring either because they believe they are doing so for the benefit of their religion or because of the fame that results. Furthermore, people by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even when false. Also, Hume notes that miracles seem to occur mostly in "ignorant and barbarous nations" and times, and the reason they do not occur in the civilised societies is such societies are not awed by what they know to be natural events. Finally, the miracles of each religion argue against all other religions and their miracles, and so even if a proportion of all reported miracles across the world fit Hume's requirement for belief, the miracles of each religion make the other less likely.
Hume was extremely pleased with his argument against miracles in his ''Enquiry''. He states "I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument of a like nature, which, if just, will, with the wise and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the world endures." Thus, Hume's argument against miracles had a more abstract basis founded upon the scrutiny, not just primarily of miracles, but of all forms of belief systems. It is a common sense notion of veracity based upon epistemological evidence, and founded on a principle of rationality, proportionality and reasonability.
The criterion for assessing Hume's belief system is based on the balance of probability whether something is more likely than not to have occurred. Since the weight of empirical experience contradicts the notion for the existence of miracles, such accounts should be treated with scepticism. Further, the myriad of accounts of miracles contradict one another, as some people who receive miracles will aim to prove the authority of Jesus, whereas others will aim to prove the authority of Muhammad or some other religious prophet or deity. These various differing accounts weaken the overall evidential power of miracles.
Despite all this, Hume observes that belief in miracles is popular, and that "the gazing populace… receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition, and promotes wonder."
Critics have argued that Hume's position assumes the character of miracles and
Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature, and based on values intrinsic to human nature that can be deduced and applied independently of positive law (the express enacte ...s prior to any specific examination of miracle claims, thus it amounts to a subtle form of begging the question. To assume that testimony is a homogeneous reference group seems unwise- to compare private miracles with public miracles, unintellectual observers with intellectual observers and those who have little to gain and much to lose with those with much to gain and little to lose is not convincing to many. Indeed, many have argued that miracles not only do not contradict the laws of nature, but require the laws of nature to be intelligible as miraculous, and thus subverting the law of nature. For example, William Adams remarks that "there must be an ordinary course of nature before anything can be extraordinary. There must be a stream before anything can be interrupted." They have also noted that it requires an appeal to inductive inference, as none have observed every part of nature nor examined every possible miracle claim, for instance those in the future. This, in Hume's philosophy, was especially problematic.
Little appreciated is the voluminous literature either foreshadowing Hume, in the likes of Thomas Sherlock or directly responding to and engaging with Hume—from William Paley
William Paley (July 174325 May 1805) was an English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his natural theology exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work '' Natu ..., William Adams, John Douglas, John Leland, and George Campbell, among others. Regarding the latter, it is rumoured that, having read Campbell's Dissertation, Hume remarked that "the Scotch theologue had beaten him."
Hume's main argument concerning miracles is that miracles by definition are singular events that differ from the established laws of nature. Such natural laws are codified as a result of past experiences. Therefore, a miracle is a violation of all prior experience and thus incapable on this basis of reasonable belief. However, the probability that something has occurred in contradiction of all past experience should always be judged to be less than the probability that either ones senses have deceived one, or the person recounting the miraculous occurrence is lying or mistaken, Hume would say, all of which he had past experience of. For Hume, this refusal to grant credence does not guarantee correctness. He offers the example of an Indian Prince, who, having grown up in a hot country, refuses to believe that water has frozen. By Hume's lights, this refusal is not wrong and the Prince "reasoned justly;" it is presumably only when he has had extensive experience of the freezing of water that he has warrant to believe that the event could occur.
So for Hume, either the miraculous event will become a recurrent event or else it will never be rational to believe it occurred. The connection to religious belief is left unexplained throughout, except for the close of his discussion where Hume notes the reliance of Christianity upon testimony of miraculous occurrences. He makes an ironic remark that anyone who "is moved by faith to assent" to revealed testimony "is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience." Hume writes that "All the testimony whichever was really given for any miracle, or ever will be given, is a subject of derision."
As a historian of England
From 1754 to 1762 Hume published '' The History of England'', a six-volume work, that extends (according to its subtitle) "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688." Inspired by
François-Marie Arouet (; 21 November 169430 May 1778) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Known by his '' nom de plume'' M. de Voltaire (; also ; ), he was famous for his wit, and his criticism of Christianity— ...'s sense of the breadth of history, Hume widened the focus of the field away from merely kings, parliaments, and armies, to literature and science as well. He argued that the quest for liberty was the highest standard for judging the past, and concluded that after considerable fluctuation, England at the time of his writing had achieved "the most entire system of liberty that was ever known amongst mankind". It "must be regarded as an event of cultural importance. In its own day, moreover, it was an innovation, soaring high above its very few predecessors." Hume's ''History of England'' made him famous as a historian before he was ever considered a serious philosopher. In this work, Hume uses history to tell the story of the rise of England and what led to its greatness and the disastrous effects that religion has had on its progress. For Hume, the history of England's rise may give a template for others who would also like to rise to its current greatness.
Hume's ''The History of England'' was profoundly impacted by his Scottish background. The science of sociology, which is rooted in Scottish thinking of the eighteenth century, had never before been applied to British philosophical history. Because of his Scottish background, Hume was able to bring an outsider's lens to English history that the insulated English whigs lacked.
Hume's coverage of the political upheavals of the 17th century relied in large part on the Earl of Clarendon's ''History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England'' (1646–69). Generally, Hume took a moderate royalist
A royalist supports a particular monarch as head of state for a particular kingdom, or of a particular dynastic claim. In the abstract, this position is royalism. It is distinct from monarchism, which advocates a monarchical system of gover ... position and considered revolution unnecessary to achieve necessary reform. Hume was considered a Tory
A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English culture throughout history. T ... historian, and emphasised religious differences more than constitutional issues. Laird Okie explains that "Hume preached the virtues of political moderation, but ... it was moderation with an anti-Whig, pro-royalist coloring." For "Hume shared the ... Tory belief that the Stuarts
The House of Stuart, originally spelt Stewart, was a royal house of Scotland, England, Ireland and later Great Britain. The family name comes from the office of High Steward of Scotland, which had been held by the family progenitor Walter ... were no more high-handed than their Tudor predecessors". "Even though Hume wrote with an anti-Whig animus, it is, paradoxically, correct to regard the ''History'' as an establishment work, one which implicitly endorsed the ruling oligarchy".
Historians have debated whether Hume posited a universal unchanging human nature, or allowed for evolution and development.
The debate between Tory and the Whig historians can be seen in the initial reception to Hume's ''History of England''. The whig-dominated world of 1754 overwhelmingly disapproved of Hume's take on English history. In later editions of the book, Hume worked to "soften or expunge many villainous whig strokes which had crept into it."
Hume did not consider himself a pure Tory. Before 1745, he was more akin to an "independent whig." In 1748, he described himself as "a whig, though a very skeptical one." This description of himself as in between whiggism
Whiggism (in North America sometimes spelled Whigism) is a political philosophy that grew out of the Parliamentarian faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651). The Whigs' key policy positions were the supremacy of Parliament (a ... and tory
A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English culture throughout history. T ...ism, helps one understand that his ''History of England'' should be read as his attempt to work out his own philosophy of history.
Robert Roth argues that Hume's histories display his biases against Presbyterian
Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism that broke from the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland by John Knox, who was a priest at St. Giles Cathedral (Church of Scotland). Presbyterian churches derive their n ...s and Puritan
The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become more Protestant. ...s. Roth says his anti-Whig pro-monarchy position diminished the influence of his work, and that his emphasis on politics and religion led to a neglect of social and economic history.
Hume was an early cultural historian of science. His short biographies of leading scientists explored the process of scientific change. He developed new ways of seeing scientists in the context of their times by looking at how they interacted with society and each other. He covers over forty scientists, with special attention paid to Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon led the advancement of both ..., Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle (; 25 January 1627 – 31 December 1691) was an Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, alchemist and inventor. Boyle is largely regarded today as the first modern chemist, and therefore one of the founders of ..., and Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosopher"), widely recognised as one of the great .... Hume particularly praised William Harvey
William Harvey (1 April 1578 – 3 June 1657) was an English physician who made influential contributions in anatomy and physiology. He was the first known physician to describe completely, and in detail, the systemic circulation and prope ..., writing about his treatise of the circulation of the blood: "Harvey is entitled to the glory of having made, by reasoning alone, without any mixture of accident, a capital discovery in one of the most important branches of science."
The ''History'' became a best-seller and made Hume a wealthy man who no longer had to take up salaried work for others. It was influential for nearly a century, despite competition from imitations by Smollett (1757), Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Nowadays they mainly specialize in jewelry-making but historically, goldsmiths have also made silverware, platters, goblets, decorative and serviceab ... (1771) and others. By 1894, there were at least 50 editions as well as abridgements for students, and illustrated pocket editions, probably produced specifically for women.
Hume's writings have been described as largely seminal to conservative theory, and he is considered a founding father of
Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the culture and civilizatio .... In contrast, many of his ideas, such as limited government
In political philosophy, limited government is the concept of a government limited in power. It is a key concept in the history of liberalism.Amy Gutmann, "How Limited Is Liberal Government" in Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Th ..., private property
Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property and personal property, which is owned by a state entity, and from collective o ... when there is scarcity
In economics, scarcity "refers to the basic fact of life that there exists only a finite amount of human and nonhuman resources which the best technical knowledge is capable of using to produce only limited maximum amounts of each economic good. ..., and constitutionalism
Constitutionalism is "a compound of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law".
Political organizations are constitutional ..., are first principles of liberalism
Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law."political rationalism, hostility to autocracy, cultural distaste for .... Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He was previously the nati ... banned the ''History'' from University of Virginia
The University of Virginia (UVA) is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the university is ranked among the top academic institutions in the United States, with highly selective ..., feeling that it had "spread universal toryism over the land." By comparison, Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. The '' Oxfor ... thought Hume to be "a Tory by chance ..for he has no principle. If he is anything, he is a Hobbist." A major concern of Hume's political philosophy is the importance of the rule of law. He also stresses throughout his political essays the importance of moderation in politics, public spirit, and regard to the community.
Throughout the period of the American Revolution, Hume had varying views. For instance, in 1768 he encouraged total revolt on the part of the Americans. In 1775, he became certain that a revolution would take place and said that he believed in the American principle and wished the British government would let them be. Hume's influence on some of the Founders can be seen in Benjamin Franklin's suggestion at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 that no high office in any branch of government should receive a salary, which is a suggestion Hume had made in his emendation of James Harrington's '' Oceana''.
The legacy of religious civil war in 18th-century Scotland, combined with the relatively recent memory of the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings, had fostered in Hume a distaste for enthusiasm and factionalism. These appeared to him to threaten the fragile and nascent political and social stability of a country that was deeply politically and religiously divided. Hume thought that society is best governed by a general and impartial system of laws; he is less concerned about the form of government that administers these laws, so long as it does so fairly. However, he also clarified that a republic must produce laws, while "monarchy, when absolute, contains even something repugnant to law."
Hume expressed suspicion of attempts to reform society in ways that departed from long-established custom, and he counselled peoples not to resist their governments except in cases of the most egregious tyranny. However, he resisted aligning himself with either of Britain's two political parties, the Whigs and the Tories
A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English culture throughout history. T ...:
My views of ''things'' are more conformable to Whig principles; my representations of ''persons'' to Tory prejudices.
Canadian philosopher Neil McArthur writes that Hume believed that we should try to balance our demands for liberty with the need for strong authority, without sacrificing either. McArthur characterises Hume as a "precautionary conservative,"
[McArthur, Neil. 2007. ] whose actions would have been "determined by prudential concerns about the consequences of change, which often demand we ignore our own principles about what is ideal or even legitimate."
David Hume's Political Theory: Law, Commerce, and the Constitution of Government
University of Toronto Press
The University of Toronto Press is a Canadian university press founded in 1901. Although it was founded in 1901, the press did not actually publish any books until 1911.
The press originally printed only examination books and the university cale .... . Hume supported the liberty of the press, and was sympathetic to democracy, when suitably constrained. American historian Douglass Adair has argued that Hume was a major inspiration for James Madison
James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father. He served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. Madison is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for hi ...'s writings, and the essay " Federalist No. 10" in particular.
Hume offered his view on the best type of society in an essay titled "Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth", which lays out what he thought was the best form of government. He hoped that, "in some future age, an opportunity might be afforded of reducing the theory to practice, either by a dissolution of some old government, or by the combination of men to form a new one, in some distant part of the world". He defended a strict separation of powers
Separation of powers refers to the division of a state's government into branches, each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. The typica ..., decentralisation
Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group.
Conce ..., extending the franchise
Franchise may refer to:
Business and law
* Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees
* Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television p ... to anyone who held property of value and limiting the power of the clergy. The system of the Swiss militia was proposed as the best form of protection. Elections were to take place on an annual basis and representatives were to be unpaid. Political philosophers Leo Strauss
Leo Strauss (, ; September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973) was a German-American political philosopher who specialized in classical political philosophy. Born in Germany to Jewish parents, Strauss later emigrated from Germany to the United States. ... and Joseph Cropsey, writing of Hume's thoughts about "the wise statesman", note that he "will bear a reverence to what carries the marks of age." Also, if he wishes to improve a constitution, his innovations will take account of the "ancient fabric", in order not to disturb society.
In the political analysis of philosopher George Holland Sabine, the scepticism of Hume extended to the doctrine of government by consent. He notes that "allegiance is a habit enforced by education and consequently as much a part of human nature as any other motive."
In the 1770s, Hume was critical of British policies toward the American colonies and advocated for American independence. He wrote in 1771 that "our union with America…in the nature of things, cannot long subsist." [
Contributions to economic thought
Hume expressed his economic views in his ''Political Discourses'', which were incorporated in ''Essays and Treatises'' as Part II of ''Essays, Moral and Political''.
To what extent he was influenced by Adam Smith is difficult to assess; however, both of them had similar principles supported from historical events. At the same time Hume did not demonstrate concrete system of economic theory which could be observed in Smith's '' Wealth of Nations
''An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'', generally referred to by its shortened title ''The Wealth of Nations'', is the ''magnum opus'' of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1 ...''. However, he introduced several new ideas around which the "classical economics" of the 18th century was built. Through his discussions on politics, Hume developed many ideas that are prevalent in the field of economics. This includes ideas on private property
Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property and personal property, which is owned by a state entity, and from collective o ..., inflation, and foreign trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories because there is a need or want of goods or services. (see: World economy)
In most countries, such trade represents a significant .... Referring to his essay " Of the Balance of Trade", economist Paul Krugman
Paul Robin Krugman ( ; born February 28, 1953) is an American economist, who is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a columnist for ''The New York Times''. In 2008, Krugman was th ... (2012) has remarked that "David Hume created what I consider the first true economic model."
In contrast to Locke, Hume believes that private property is not a natural right. Hume argues it is justified, because resources are limited. Private property would be an unjustified, "idle ceremonial," if all goods were unlimited and available freely. Hume also believed in an unequal distribution of property, because perfect equality would destroy the ideas of thrift and industry. Perfect equality would thus lead to impoverishment.
David Hume anticipated modern monetarism
Monetarism is a school of thought in monetary economics that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. Monetarist theory asserts that variations in the money supply have major influences on nati .... First, Hume contributed to the theory of quantity
Quantity or amount is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value multiple of a u ... and of interest rate. Hume has been credited with being the first to prove that, on an abstract level, there is no quantifiable amount of nominal money that a country needs to thrive. He understood that there was a difference between ''nominal'' and ''real'' money.
Second, Hume has a theory of causation which fits in with the Chicago-school " black box
In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a system which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs (or transfer characteristics), without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque" (black). The te ..." approach. According to Hume, cause and effect are related only through correlation. Hume shared the belief with modern monetarists that changes in the supply of money can affect consumption and investment.
Lastly, Hume was a vocal advocate of a stable private sector
The private sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is owned by private groups, usually as a means of establishment for profit or non profit, rather than being owned by the government.
T ..., though also having some non-monetarist aspects to his economic philosophy. Having a stated preference for rising prices, for instance, Hume considered government debt
A country's gross government debt (also called public debt, or sovereign debt) is the financial liabilities of the government sector. Changes in government debt over time reflect primarily borrowing due to past government deficits. A deficit o ... to be a sort of substitute for actual money, referring to such debt as "a kind of paper credit." He also believed in heavy tax
A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures (regional, local, o ...ation, believing that it increases effort. Hume's economic approach evidently resembles his other philosophies, in that he does not choose one side indefinitely, but sees gray in the situation
Due to Hume's vast influence on contemporary philosophy, a large number of approaches in contemporary philosophy and cognitive science are today called "
Humeanism refers to the philosophy of David Hume and to the tradition of thought inspired by him. Hume was an influential Scottish philosopher well known for his empirical approach, which he applied to various fields in philosophy. In the philosop ...." [Garrett, Don. 2015. ]
The writings of
' (reprint ed.). London: Routledge. .
Thomas Reid (; 7 May ( O.S. 26 April) 1710 – 7 October 1796) was a religiously trained Scottish philosopher. He was the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment. In 1783 he w ..., a Scottish philosopher and contemporary of Hume, were often critical of Hume's scepticism. Reid formulated his '' common sense
''Common Sense'' is a 47-page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–1776 advocating independence from Great Britain to people in the Thirteen Colonies. Writing in clear and persuasive prose, Paine collected various moral and political argu ...'' philosophy, in part, as a reaction against Hume's views.
Hume influenced, and was influenced by, the Christian philosopher Joseph Butler. Hume was impressed by Butler's way of thinking about religion, and Butler may well have been influenced by Hume's writings.
Attention to Hume's philosophical works grew after the German philosopher Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher and one of the central Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and ..., in his '' Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics'' (1783), credited Hume with awakening him from his "dogmatic slumber."
According to Arthur Schopenhauer, "there is more to be learned from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher. He is one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of modern Western philosophy. His influence extends ..., Herbart
Johann Friedrich Herbart (; 4 May 1776 – 14 August 1841) was a German philosopher, psychologist and founder of pedagogy as an academic discipline.
Herbart is now remembered amongst the post-Kantian philosophers mostly as making the greatest ... and Schleiermacher
Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (; 21 November 1768 – 12 February 1834) was a German Reformed theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional ... taken together."
A. J. Ayer, while introducing his classic exposition of logical positivism in 1936, claimed:
The views which are put forward in this treatise derive from…doctrines…which are themselves the logical outcome of the empiricism of Berkeley and David Hume. Albert Einstein, in 1915, wrote that he was inspired by Hume's positivism when formulating his theory of
In physics, the special theory of relativity, or special relativity for short, is a scientific theory regarding the relationship between space and time. In Albert Einstein's original treatment, the theory is based on two postulates:
# The la ....
Hume's problem of induction was also of fundamental importance to the philosophy of Karl Popper. In his autobiography, ''Unended Quest'', he wrote: "Knowledge ... is ''objective''; and it is hypothetical or conjectural. This way of looking at the problem made it possible for me to reformulate Hume's ''problem of induction''." This insight resulted in Popper's major work '' The Logic of Scientific Discovery
''The Logic of Scientific Discovery'' is a 1959 book about the philosophy of science by the philosopher Karl Popper. Popper rewrote his book in English from the 1934 (imprint '1935') German original, titled ''Logik der Forschung. Zur Erkenntnisthe ...''. In his ''Conjectures and Refutations'', he wrote:
I approached the problem of induction through Hume. Hume, I felt, was perfectly right in pointing out that induction cannot be logically justified.
In philosophy, rationalism is the epistemological view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge" or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".Lacey, A.R. (1996), ''A Dictionary of Philosoph ... in religious subjects influenced, via German-Scottish theologian Johann Joachim Spalding, the German neology
Neology ("study of new hings) was the name given to the rationalist theology of Germany or the rationalisation of the Christian religion. It was preceded by slightly less radical Wolffism.
''Chambers English Dictionary'' of 1872 adds the appli ... school and rational theology, and contributed to the transformation of German theology in the age of enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment or the Enlightenment; german: Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie, "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, La Ilustración, "Enlightenment" was an intel .... Hume pioneered a comparative history of religion, [ tried to explain various rites and traditions as being based on deception and challenged various aspects of rational and natural theology, such as the argument from design.] [ Joas, Hans. 14 November 2013. "" (lecture). ''Beyond Myth and Enlightenment''. Vienna: Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen.
Title translation: 'Religious Studies as Criticism of Religion? David Hume and the Consequences']
Danish theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard ( , , ; 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish theologian, philosopher, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts o ... adopted "Hume's suggestion that the role of reason is not to make us wise but to reveal our ignorance," though taking it as a reason for the necessity of religious faith, or '' fideism
Fideism () is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths (see natural theology). The word ''fideism'' ...''. The "fact that Christianity is contrary to reason…is the necessary precondition for true faith." Political theorist Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin (6 June 1909 – 5 November 1997) was a Russian-British social and political theorist, philosopher, and historian of ideas. Although he became increasingly averse to writing for publication, his improvised lectures and talks ..., who has also pointed out the similarities between the arguments of Hume and Kierkegaard against rational theology, [Miles, T. 2009.] has written about Hume's influence on what Berlin calls the ''
Hume: Kierkegaard and Hume on reason, faith, and the ethics of philosophy
" In ''Kierkegaard and the Renaissance and Modern Traditions: Philosophy'', edited by J. B Stewart. London: Ashgate Publishing. p. 27.
The Counter-Enlightenment refers to a loose collection of intellectual stances that arose during the European Enlightenment in opposition to its mainstream attitudes and ideals. The Counter-Enlightenment is generally seen to have continued from th ...'' and on German anti-rationalism. Berlin has also once said of Hume that "no man has influenced the history of philosophy to a deeper or more disturbing degree."
In 2003 philosopher Jerry Fodor
Jerry Alan Fodor (; April 22, 1935 – November 29, 2017) was an American philosopher and the author of many crucial works in the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. His writings in these fields laid the groundwork for the mod ..., described Hume's ''Treatise'' as "the founding document of cognitive science."
Hume engaged with contemporary intellectuals including Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Rev ..., James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (; 29 October 1740 ( N.S.) – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer, diarist, and lawyer, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for his biography of his friend and older contemporary the English writer S ..., and Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume's influence on his economics and political philosophy
Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. Its topics include politics, ...).
Morris and Brown (2019) write that Hume is "generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers to write in English."
In September 2020, the David Hume Tower, a University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals) is a public research university based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Granted a royal charter by King James VI in 158 ... building, was renamed to 40 George Square; this was following a campaign led by students of the university to rename it, in objection to Hume's writings related to race. [
* 1734. ''A Kind of History of My Life''. – MSS 23159
National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland (NLS) ( gd, Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba, sco, Naitional Leebrar o Scotland) is the legal deposit library of Scotland and is one of the country's National Collections. As one of the largest libraries in th ....
** A letter to an unnamed physician, asking for advice about "the Disease of the Learned" that then afflicted him. Here he reports that at the age of eighteen "there seem'd to be open'd up to me a new Scene of Thought" that made him "throw up every other Pleasure or Business" and turned him to scholarship.
* 1739–1740. ''A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects''.
** Hume intended to see whether the ''Treatise of Human Nature'' met with success, and if so, to complete it with books devoted to Politics and Criticism. However, as Hume explained, "It fell ''dead-born from the press'', without reaching such distinction as even to excite a murmur among the zealots" and so his further project was not completed.
* 1740. ''An Abstract of a Book lately Published: Entitled A Treatise of Human Nature etc''.
** Anonymously published, but almost certainly written by Hume [For this, see: Keynes, J. M. and P. Sraffa. 1965. "Introduction." In ''An Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature'', by D. Hume (1740). Connecticut: Archon Books] in an attempt to popularise his ''Treatise''. This work is of considerable philosophical interest as it spells out what Hume considered "The Chief Argument" of the ''Treatise'', in a way that seems to anticipate the structure of the ''Enquiry concerning Human Understanding''.
* 1741. '' Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary'' (2st ed.)
** A collection of pieces written and published over many years, though most were collected together in 1753–54. Many of the essays are on politics and economics; other topics include aesthetic judgement, love, marriage and polygamy, and the demographics of ancient Greece and Rome. The Essays show some influence from Addison's ''Tatler'' and '' The Spectator
''The Spectator'' is a weekly British magazine on politics, culture, and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828, making it the oldest surviving weekly magazine in the world.
It is owned by Frederick Barclay, who also owns ''Th ...'', which Hume read avidly in his youth.
* 1745. ''A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh: Containing Some Observations on a Specimen of the Principles concerning Religion and Morality, said to be maintain'd in a Book lately publish'd, intituled A Treatise of Human Nature etc''.
** Contains a letter written by Hume to defend himself against charges of atheism and scepticism, while applying for a chair at Edinburgh University.
* 1742. "Of Essay Writing."
* 1748. '' An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.''
** Contains reworking of the main points of the ''Treatise'', Book 1, with the addition of material on free will (adapted from Book 2), miracles, the Design Argument, and mitigated scepticism. '' Of Miracles'', section X of the ''Enquiry'', was often published separately.
* 1751. '' An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.''
** A reworking of material on morality from Book 3 of the ''Treatise'', but with a significantly different emphasis. It "was thought by Hume to be the best of his writings."
* 1752. ''Political Discourses'' (part II of '' Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary'' within the larger ''Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects'', vol. 1).
** Included in ''Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects'' (1753–56) reprinted 1758–77.
* 1752–1758. ''Political Discourses''/''Discours politiques''
* 1757. '' Four Dissertations – '' includes 4 essays:
** "The Natural History of Religion"
** "Of the Passions"
** "Of Tragedy"
** "Of the Standard of Taste"
* 1754–1762. '' The History of England'' – sometimes referred to as ''The History of Great Britain''.
** More a category of books than a single work, Hume's history spanned "from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688" and went through over 100 editions. Many considered it ''the'' standard history of England in its day.
* 1760. "Sister Peg"
** Hume claimed to have authored an anonymous political pamphlet satirizing the failure of the British Parliament to create a Scottish militia in 1760. Although the authorship of the work is disputed, Hume wrote Dr. Alexander Carlyle in early 1761 claiming authorship. The readership of the time attributed the work to Adam Ferguson
Adam Ferguson, (Scottish Gaelic: ''Adhamh MacFhearghais''), also known as Ferguson of Raith (1 July N.S./20 June O.S. 1723 – 22 February 1816), was a Scottish philosopher and historian of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Ferguson was sympathe ..., a friend and associate of Hume's who has been sometimes called "the founder of modern sociology." Some contemporary scholars concur in the judgment that Ferguson, not Hume, was the author of this work.
* 1776. "My Own Life."
** Penned in April, shortly before his death, this autobiography was intended for inclusion in a new edition of ''Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects''. It was first published by Adam Smith, who claimed that by doing so he had incurred "ten times more abuse than the very violent attack I had made upon the whole commercial system of Great Britain."
* 1779. '' Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion''.
** Published posthumously by his nephew, David Hume the Younger. Being a discussion among three fictional characters concerning the nature of God, and is an important portrayal of the argument from design. Despite some controversy, most scholars agree that the view of Philo, the most sceptical of the three, comes closest to Hume's own.
* Anderson, R. F. (1966). ''Hume's First Principles'',
University of Nebraska Press
The University of Nebraska Press, also known as UNP, was founded in 1941 and is an academic publisher of scholarly and general-interest books. The press is under the auspices of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the main campus of the Uni ..., Lincoln.
* Bongie, L. L. (1998). ''David Hume – Prophet of the Counter-Revolution''. Liberty Fund, Indianapolis
* Broackes, Justin (1995). ''Hume, David'', in Ted Honderich (ed.) ''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', New York, Oxford University Press
* Daiches D., Jones P., Jones J. (eds). ''The Scottish Enlightenment: 1730–1790 A Hotbed of Genius'' The University of Edinburgh, 1986. In paperback, The Saltire Society, 1996
* Einstein, A. (1915) ''Letter to Moritz Schlick'', Schwarzschild, B. (trans. & ed.) in ''The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein'', vol. 8A, R. Schulmann, A. J. Fox, J. Illy, (eds.) Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ (1998), p. 220.
* Flew, A. (1986). ''David Hume: Philosopher of Moral Science'', Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
* Fogelin, R. J. (1993). ''Hume's scepticism''. In Norton, D. F. (ed.) (1993). ''The Cambridge Companion to Hume'', Cambridge University Press, pp. 90–116.
* Graham, R. (2004). ''The Great Infidel – A Life of David Hume''. John Donald, Edinburgh.
* Harwood, Sterling (1996). "Moral Sensibility Theories", in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Supplement) (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.).
* Hume, D. (1751). ''An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals''. David Hume, ''Essays Moral, Political, and Literary'' edited with preliminary dissertations and notes by T.H. Green and T.H. Grose, 1:1–8. London: Longmans, Green 1907.
* Hume, D. (1752–1758). ''Political Discourses'':Bilingual English-French (translated by Fabien Grandjean). Mauvezin, France, Trans-Europ-Repress, 1993, 22 cm, V-260 p. Bibliographic notes, index.
* Husserl, E. (1970). ''The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology'', Carr, D. (trans.), Northwestern University Press, Evanston.
* Klibansky, Raymond and Mossner, Ernest C. (eds.) (1954). ''New Letters of David Hume''. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Kolakowski, L. (1968). ''The Alienation of Reason: A History of Positivist Thought''. Doubleday: Garden City.
* Penelhum, T. (1993). ''Hume's moral philosophy''. In Norton, D. F. (ed.), (1993). ''The Cambridge Companion to Hume'', Cambridge University Press, pp. 117–147.
* Phillipson, N. (1989). ''Hume'', Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London.
* Popkin, Richard H. (1993) "Sources of Knowledge of Sextus Empiricus in Hume's Time" Journal ''of the History of Ideas'', Vol. 54, No. 1. (Jan. 1993), pp. 137–141.
* Popkin, R. & Stroll, A. (1993) ''Philosophy''. Reed Educational and Professional Publishing Ltd, Oxford.
* Popper. K. (1960). ''Knowledge without authority''. In Miller D. (ed.), (1983). ''Popper'', Oxford, Fontana, pp. 46–57.
* Robbins, Lionel (1998). ''A History of Economic Thought: The LSE Lectures''. Edited by Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels. Princeton University Press
Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections to Princeton University. Its mission is to disseminate scholarship within academia and society at large.
The press was founded by Whitney Darrow, with the financial ..., Princeton, NJ.
* Robinson, Dave & Groves, Judy (2003). ''Introducing Political Philosophy''. Icon Books. .
* Russell, B. (1946). ''A History of Western Philosophy''. London, Allen and Unwin.
* Russell, Paul, "Hume on Free Will", ''The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
* Sgarbi, M.br>(2012). "Hume's Source of the 'Impression-Idea' Distinction", Anales del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía, 2: 561–576
* Spencer, Mark G., ed. ''David Hume: Historical Thinker, Historical Writer'' (Penn State University Press; 2013) 282 pages; Interdisciplinary essays that consider his intertwined work as historian and philosopher
* Spiegel, Henry William, (1991). ''The Growth of Economic Thought'', 3rd Ed., Durham:
Duke University Press
Duke University Press is an academic publisher and university press affiliated with Duke University. It was founded in 1921 by William T. Laprade as The Trinity College Press. (Duke University was initially called Trinity College). In 1926 ....
* Stroud, B. (1977). ''Hume'', Routledge: London & New York.
* Taylor, A. E. (1927). ''David Hume and the Miraculous'', Leslie Stephen Lecture. Cambridge, pp. 53–54.
* Ardal, Pall (1966). ''Passion and Value in Hume's Treatise'', Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.
* Bailey, Alan & O'Brien, Dan (eds.) (2012). ''The Continuum Companion to Hume'', New York: Continuum.
* Bailey, Alan & O'Brien, Dan. (2014). ''Hume's Critique of Religion: Sick Men's Dreams'', Dordrecht: Springer.
* Beauchamp, Tom & Rosenberg, Alexander (1981). '' Hume and the Problem of Causation'', New York, Oxford University Press.
* Beveridge, Craig (1982), review of ''The Life of David Hume'' by Ernest Campbell Mossner, in Murray, Glen (ed.), ''
''Cencrastus'' was a magazine devoted to Scottish and international literature, arts and affairs, founded after the Referendum of 1979 by students, mainly of Scottish literature at Edinburgh University
The University of Edinburgh ( sco, Un ...'' No. 8, Spring 1982, p. 46,
* Campbell Mossner, Ernest (1980). ''The Life of David Hume'', Oxford University Press.
* Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Louis René Deleuze ( , ; 18 January 1925 – 4 November 1995) was a French philosopher who, from the early 1950s until his death in 1995, wrote on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volu ... (1953). ''Empirisme et subjectivité. Essai sur la Nature Humaine selon Hume'', Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; trans. ''Empiricism and Subjectivity'', New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
* Demeter, Tamás (2014). "Natural Theology as Superstition: Hume and the Changing Ideology of Moral Inquiry." In Demeter, T. et al. (eds.), ''Conflicting Values of Inquiry'', Leiden: Brill.
* Garrett, Don (1996). ''Cognition and Commitment in Hume's Philosophy''. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Gaskin, J.C.A. (1978). ''Hume's Philosophy of Religion''. Humanities Press International.
* Harris, James A. (2015). ''Hume: An Intellectual Biography''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
* Hesselberg, A. Kenneth (1961). ''Hume, Natural Law and Justice''. Duquesne Review, Spring 1961, pp. 46–47.
* Kail, P. J. E. (2007) ''Projection and Realism in Hume's Philosophy'', Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Kemp Smith, Norman (1941). ''The Philosophy of David Hume''. London: Macmillan.
* Norton, David Fate (1982). ''David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician''. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
* Norton, David Fate & Taylor, Jacqueline (eds.) (2009). ''The Cambridge Companion to Hume'', Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
* Radcliffe, Elizabeth S. (ed.) (2008). ''A Companion to Hume'', Malden: Blackwell.
* Rosen, Frederick (2003). ''Classical Utilitarianism from Hume to Mill'' (Routledge Studies in Ethics & Moral Theory).
* Russell, Paul (1995). ''Freedom and Moral Sentiment: Hume's Way of Naturalizing Responsibility''. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Russell, Paul (2008). ''The Riddle of Hume's Treatise: Skepticism, Naturalism and Irreligion''. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Stroud, Barry (1977). ''Hume'', London & New York: Routledge. (Complete study of Hume's work parting from the interpretation of Hume's naturalistic philosophical programme).
* Wei, Jua (2017). ''Commerce and Politics in Hume’s History of England'', Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewe
* Willis, Andre C (2015). ''Toward a Humean True Religion: Genuine Theism, Moderate Hope, and Practical Morality'', University Park: Penn State University Press.
* Wilson, Fred (2008). ''The External World and Our Knowledge of It : Hume's critical realism, an exposition and a defence'', Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
The David Hume Collection
at McGill University Library
Books by David Hume
at the Online Books Page
Hume Texts Online
searchable texts, with related resources
** Peter Millican
''Papers and Talks on Hume''
** Peter Millican
** Translations of philosophical classics into contemporary English, from English, Latin, French and German.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The ''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'' (''IEP'') is a scholarly online encyclopedia, dealing with philosophy, philosophical topics, and philosophers. The IEP combines open access publication with peer reviewed publication of original paper ...''
''David Hume: My Own Life'' and ''Adam Smith: obituary of Hume''
Bibliography of Hume's influence on Utilitarianism
The Hume Society
publishes ''Hume Studies'' and holds conferences
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