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About the Author: David Hume

David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.

In light of Hume's central role in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy, Bryan Magee judged him as a philosopher "widely regarded as the greatest who has ever written in the English language." While Hume failed in his attempts to start a university career, he took part in various diplomatic and military missions of the time. He wrote The History of England which became a bestseller, and it became the standard history of England in its day.

His empirical approach places him with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others at the time as a British Empiricist.

Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably René Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behaviour. He also argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. He argued that inductive reasoning and therefore causality cannot be justified rationally. Our assumptions in favour of these result from custom and constant conjunction rather than logic. He concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self.

Hume's compatibilist theory of free will proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles, and expounded the is–ought problem.

Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent western philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, the philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, theology and other movements and thinkers. In addition, according to philosopher Jerry Fodor, Hume's Treatise is "the founding document of cognitive science". Hume engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, James Boswell, and Adam Smith (who acknowledged Hume's influence on his economics and political philosophy). Immanuel Kant credited Hume with awakening him from "dogmatic slumbers".


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Paperback, Published in Aug 2011 by Wordsworth Editions Ltd

ISBN10: 1840226668 | ISBN13: 9781840226669

Page count: 896

David Hume (1711–1776) was the most important philosopher ever to write in English, as well as a master stylist. This volume contains his major philosophical works. A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–1740), published while Hume was still in his twenties, consists of three books on the understanding, the passions, and morals. It applies the experimental method of reasoning to human nature in a revolution that was intended to make Hume the Newton of the moral sciences. Disappointed with the Treatise’s failure to bring about such a revolution, Hume later recast Book I as An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1751), and Book III as An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which he regarded as 'incomparably the best' of all his works. Both Enquiries went through several editions in his lifetime.
Hume’s works, controversial in his day, remain deeply and widely influential in ours, especially for his contributions to our understanding of the nature of morality, political and economic theory, philosophy of religion, and philosophical naturalism.
This volume also includes Hume’s anonymous Abstract of Books I and II of the Treatise, and the short autobiographical essay, 'My Own Life', which he wrote just before his death.

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