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Ideas About Reasoning

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Writing About Hume

This was what persuaded Hume's physician to make his diagnosis. Hume wrote that he "went under a Course of Bitters and Anti-Hysteric Pills", taken along with a pint of claret every day. Hume also decided to have a more active life to better continue his learning. After eating well for a time, he went from being "tall, lean and raw-bon'd" to being "sturdy, robust [and] healthful-like". At 25 years of age, Hume, although of noble ancestry, had no source of income and no learned profession.

As was common at his time, he became a merchant's assistant, but he had to leave his native Scotland. While Hume was derailed in his attempts to start a university career by protests over his " atheism " and bemoaned that his literary debut, A Treatise of Human Nature , 'fell dead-born from the press', [23] he found literary success in his lifetime as an essayist, and a career as a librarian at the University of Edinburgh.

His tenure there, and the access to research materials it provided, ultimately 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. Hume described his "love for literary fame" as his "ruling passion" [24] 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 , respectively, as his greatest literary and philosophical achievements, [24] asking his contemporaries to judge him on the merits of the later texts alone, rather than the more radical formulations of his early, youthful work, dismissing his philosophical debut as juvenilia: Hume was just 23 years old when he started this work and it is now regarded as one of the most important in the history of Western philosophy.

He worked for four years on his first major work, A Treatise of Human Nature , subtitled "Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects", completing it in at the age of Although many scholars today consider the Treatise to be Hume's most important work and one of the most important books in Western philosophy, the critics in Great Britain at the time did not agree, describing it as "abstract and unintelligible".

However, the position was given to William Cleghorn [31] after Edinburgh ministers petitioned the town council not to appoint Hume because he was seen as an atheist. During the Jacobite rising , Hume tutored the Marquess of Annandale —92 , who was "judged to be a lunatic".

However, it was then that Hume started his great historical work The History of England. This took him fifteen years and ran 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 Scottish Enlightenment luminaries in Edinburgh. Often called the First Enquiry , it proved little more successful than the Treatise , perhaps because of the publishing of his short autobiography, My Own Life , which "made friends difficult for the first Enquiry".

Hume's religious views were often suspect. It was necessary in the s for his friends to avert a trial against him on the charge of heresy. 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". He had published the Philosophical Essays by this time 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 public opinion would be against it.

Hume returned to Edinburgh in In the following year "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". Eventually, with the publication of his six volume The History of England between and , Hume achieved the fame that he coveted. Hume was also a longtime friend of bookseller Andrew Millar , who sold Hume's History after acquiring the rights from Scottish bookseller Gavin Hamilton [42] , although the relationship was sometimes complicated.

Letters between them illuminate both men's interest in the success of the History. From to , Hume was invited to attend Lord Hertford in Paris , where he became secretary to the British embassy. Once in England, Hume and Rousseau fell out.

Here he wrote that he was given "all the secrets of the Kingdom". In he returned to James' Court in Edinburgh, and then lived, from until his death in , at the southwest corner of St. In the last year of his life, Hume wrote an extremely brief autobiographical essay titled "My Own Life" [52] which summed up his entire life in "fewer than 5 pages", [53] and notably contains many interesting judgments that have been of enduring interest to subsequent readers of Hume.

Anyone hankering for startling revelations or amusing anecdotes had better look elsewhere. Perhaps most notable is Hume's revelation of his own retrospective judgment that his philosophical debut's apparent failure "had proceeded more from the manner than the matter.

Diarist and biographer James Boswell saw Hume a few weeks before his death, which was from some form of abdominal cancer. Hume told him he sincerely believed it a "most unreasonable fancy" that there might be life after death. In his will he requests that it be inscribed only with his name and the year of his birth and death, "leaving it to Posterity to add the Rest". Adam Smith later recounted Hume's amusing speculation that he might ask Charon to allow him a few more years of life in order to see "the downfall of some of the prevailing systems of superstition.

Get into the boat this instant". In the introduction to A Treatise of Human Nature , Hume wrote, "'Tis evident, that all the sciences have a relation, more or less, to human nature Until recently, Hume was seen as a forerunner of logical positivism ; a form of anti- metaphysical empiricism. According to the logical positivists, unless a statement could be verified by experience, or else was true or false by definition i.

Hume, on this view, was a proto-positivist, who, in his philosophical writings, attempted to demonstrate how 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 rather than a semantic reading of his project.

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. One of the most central doctrines of Hume's philosophy, stated in the very first lines of the Treatise , is his notion that the mind consists of its mental perceptions, or the mental objects which are present to it, and which divide into two categories: Hume's Treatise thus opens with the words: For example, experiencing the painful sensation of touching the handle of a hot pan 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, and Don Garret has thus coined the term "the copy principle" to refer to Hume's doctrine that all ideas are ultimately all copied from some original impression, whether it be a passion or sensation, from which they derive.

After establishing the forcefulness of impressions and ideas, these two categories are further broken down into simple and complex: Similarly, a person experiences a variety of taste-sensations, tactile-sensations, and smell-sensations when biting into an apple, with the overall sensation again being 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 thereby referred to as being simple.

For example, a person looking at an illustration of a flower can conceive of an idea of the physical flower because the idea of the illustrated object is associated with the idea of the physical object. 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 one crayon in a box leads a person to think of the crayon contiguous to it.

Finally, 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 the baseball that caused the window to shatter. Hume elaborates more on this last principle of cause and effect.

The cornerstone of Hume's epistemology is the problem of induction. This may be the area of Hume's thought where his scepticism about human powers of reason is most pronounced. As Hume wrote, induction concerns how things behave when they go "beyond the present testimony of the senses, or the records of our memory".

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. As this is using the very sort of reasoning induction that is under question, it would be circular reasoning. 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 necessity has determin'd us to judge as well as to breathe and feel. 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. There are at least three interpretations of Hume's theory of causation represented in the literature: David Hume acknowledged that there are events constantly unfolding, humanity cannot guarantee that these events are caused by events prior or if they are independent instances.

Hume opposed the widely accepted theory of Causation that 'all events have a specific course or reason. Matters of Fact are dependent on the observer and experience. They are often not universally held to be true among multiple persons. Hume's separation between Matters of Fact and Relations of Ideas is often referred to as " Hume's fork ".

Hume explains his theory of Causation and causal inference by division into three different parts. In these three branches he explains his ideas, in addition to comparing and contrasting his views to his predecessors.

Next, Hume uses the Constructive Phase to resolve any doubts the reader may have while observing the Critical Phase. Associating ideas has become second nature to the human mind. This leads Hume to the third branch of causal inference, Belief.

Belief is what drives the human mind to hold that expectancy of the future 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 the only way to justify induction is through uniformity. The logical positivist interpretation is that Hume analyses causal propositions, such as "A caused B", in terms of regularities in perception: This view is rejected by skeptical realists , who argue that Hume thought that causation amounts to more than just the regular succession of events.

Shall we rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? Philosopher 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 that "we are ignorant of the powers that operate between objects".

It has been argued that, while Hume did not think causation is reducible to pure regularity, he was not a fully fledged realist either. Philosopher Simon Blackburn calls this a quasi-realist reading. Empiricist philosophers, such as Hume and Berkeley , favoured the bundle theory of personal identity. This view is forwarded by, for example, positivist interpreters, who saw Hume as suggesting that terms such as "self", "person", or "mind" referred to collections of "sense-contents".

However, some philosophers have criticised Hume's bundle-theory interpretation of personal identity. They argue that distinct selves can have perceptions that stand in relations of similarity and causality with one another. 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 question, philosophers, like Galen Strawson , who see Hume as not very concerned with such questions have queried whether the view is really Hume's. Instead, it is suggested by Strawson that Hume might have been answering an epistemological question about the causal origin of our concept of the self.

Philosopher 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.

According to his view, Hume is not arguing for a bundle theory, which is a form of reductionism, but rather for an eliminative view of the self.

That is, rather than reducing the self to a bundle of perceptions, Hume is rejecting 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. Hume is mainly considered an anti-rationalist, denying the possibility for practical reason as a principle to exist, 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 skeptic 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. 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.

Hume's writings on ethics began in the Treatise and were refined in his An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals His views on ethics are that "[m]oral decisions are grounded in moral sentiment.

Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason itself is utterly impotent in this particular.

Hume's moral sentimentalism about morality was shared by his close friend Adam Smith, [] [ not in citation given ] and Hume and Smith were mutually influenced by the moral reflections of their older contemporary Francis Hutcheson. Hume also put forward the is—ought problem , later called Hume's Law , [] denying the possibility of logically deriving what ought to be from what is. He wrote in the Treatise that in every system of morality he has read, the author begins with stating facts about the world, but then suddenly is always 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 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 , [] and ethical expressivism and non-cognitivism , [] [ not in citation given ] as well as Allan Gibbard 's general theory of moral judgment and judgments of rationality.

Hume's ideas about aesthetics and the theory of art 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. His views are rooted in the work of Joseph Addison and Francis Hutcheson. In Of the 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 being objective, sensible and unprejudiced, and having extensive experience.

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. Hume, along with Thomas Hobbes, is cited as a classical compatibilist about the notions of freedom and determinism.

Hume, to this end, was influenced greatly by the scientific revolution and by in particular Sir Isaac Newton. Hume defines the concept of necessity as "the uniformity, observable in the operations of nature; where similar objects are constantly conjoined together", [] and liberty as "a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will". 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: 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 , 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 on both sides of him separate bales of hay, 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. Hobart , a pseudonym of philosopher Dickinson S. 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. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that Hume "wrote forcefully and incisively on almost every central question in the philosophy of religion.

Here he argued that the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all derive from earlier polytheistic religions. He also suggested that all religious belief "traces, in the end, to dread of the unknown. Although he wrote a great deal about religion, Hume's personal views are unclear, and there has been much discussion concerning his religious position.

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.

This still meant that he could be very critical of the Catholic Church , dismissing it with the standard Protestant accusations of superstition and idolatry, [] [] as well as dismissing as idolatry what his compatriots saw as uncivilised beliefs. Philosopher Paul Russell writes that it is likely that Hume was sceptical about religious belief, but not to the extent of complete atheism.

He suggests that perhaps Hume's position is best characterised by the term "irreligion", [] while philosopher David O'Connor argues that Hume's final position was "weakly deistic ". For O'Connor, Hume's "position is deeply ironic. This is because, while inclining towards a weak form of deism , he seriously doubts that we can ever find a sufficiently favourable balance of evidence to justify accepting any religious position.

One of the traditional topics of natural theology is that of the existence of God , and one of the a posteriori arguments for this is the argument from design or the teleological argument. The argument is that the existence of God can be proved by the design that is obvious in the complexity of the world. 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".

Loeb 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 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 are a result of the natural selection of inherited characteristics.

Madden, it is "Hume, rivaled only by Darwin, [who] has 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 , 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".

Many worlds might have been botched and bungled throughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out: American philosopher Daniel Dennett has suggested that this mechanical explanation of teleology, although "obviously In his discussion of miracles , Hume argues that we should not believe that miracles have occurred and that they do not therefore provide us with any reason to think that God exists. Hume says that 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 [ In all cases, we must balance the opposite experiments [ 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. Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history: Furthermore, people by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even where 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. 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 a belief system for Hume 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 [ Critics have argued that Hume's position assumes the character of miracles and natural laws 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". 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 Adams, [] John Douglas, [] John Leland [] and George Campbell , [] among others. Of Campbell, 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. From to Hume published The History of England , a 6-volume work, which extends, says its subtitle, "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in ".

Inspired by Voltaire '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".

In its own day, moreover, it was an innovation, soaring high above its very few predecessors. 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 — Generally, Hume took a moderate royalist position and considered revolution unnecessary to achieve necessary reform.

Hume was considered a Tory historian, and emphasised religious differences more than constitutional issues. Laird Okie explains that "Hume preached the virtues of political moderation, but Tory belief that the Stuarts were no more high-handed than their Tudor predecessors". Robert Roth argues that Hume's histories display his biases against Presbyterians and Puritans.

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. Hume particularly praised William Harvey , writing about his treatise of the circulation of the blood: The History became a best-seller and made Hume a wealthy man who no longer had to take up salaried work for others.

By , there were at least 50 editions as well as abridgements for students, and illustrated pocket editions, probably produced specifically for women. It is difficult to categorise Hume's political affiliations. His writings contain elements that are, in modern terms, both conservative and liberal, [] although these terms are anachronistic.

Thomas Jefferson banned the History from University of Virginia , feeling that it had "spread universal toryism over the land". If he is anything, he is a Hobbist", a follower of Thomas Hobbes. He also stresses throughout his political essays the importance of moderation in politics: This outlook needs to be seen within the historical context of 18th-century Scotland. Here, the legacy of religious civil war, combined with the relatively recent memory of the and Jacobite risings, fostered in a historian such as Hume a distaste for enthusiasm and factionalism.

These appeared to threaten the fragile and nascent political and social stability of a country that was deeply politically and religiously divided. However, he does write 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.

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", [] 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. American historian Douglass Adair has argued that Hume was a major inspiration for James Madison 's writings, and the essay " Federalist No.

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 , decentralisation , extending the franchise 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. 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 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 s, Hume was critical of British policies toward the American colonies and advocated for American independence. He wrote in that "our union with America This includes ideas on private property , inflation, and foreign trade.

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. Perfect equality would thus lead to impoverishment. Due to Hume's vast influence on contemporary philosophy, a large number of approaches in contemporary philosophy and cognitive science are today called "Humean.

Attention to Hume's philosophical works grew after the German philosopher Immanuel Kant , in his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics , credited Hume with awakening him from his "dogmatic slumber". According to Schopenhauer , "there is more to be learned from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel , Herbart and Schleiermacher taken together.

Ayer , while introducing his classic exposition of logical positivism in , claimed: Hume's problem of induction was also of fundamental importance to the philosophy of Karl Popper. In his autobiography, Unended Quest , he wrote: This way of looking at the problem made it possible for me to reformulate Hume's problem of induction ". I approached the problem of induction through Hume. Hume, I felt, was perfectly right in pointing out that induction cannot be logically justified.

The writings of Scottish philosopher and contemporary of Hume, Thomas Reid , were often criticisms of Hume's scepticism.

Reid formulated his common sense 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.

Hume's rationalism in religious subjects influenced, via German-Scottish theologian Johann Joachim Spalding , the German neology school and rational theology , and contributed to the transformation of German theology in the age of enlightenment. The "fact that Christianity is contrary to reason 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.

Isaiah Berlin once said of Hume that "No man has influenced the history of philosophy to a deeper or more disturbing degree. He worked on them continually from about until his death, in Nineteen of these date back to the two original volumes of Essays, Moral and Political — By , these essays from the original volumes would have gone through eleven editions. Twenty essays were added along the way, eight were deleted, and two would await posthumous publication.

One possibility was to say to him: Allow me a little time, that I may see how the Public receives the alterations. Jessop lists sixteen editions or reprintings of Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects that appeared between and Longmans, Green and Co.

These bibliographical details are important because they show how highly the essays were regarded by Hume himself and by many others up to the present century. The essays are elegant and entertaining in style, but thoroughly philosophical in temper and content. They elaborate those sciences—morals, politics, and criticism—for which the Treatise of Human Nature lays a foundation.

It was not simply a desire for fame that led Hume to abandon the Treatise and seek a wider audience for his thought. He acted in the belief that commerce between men of letters and men of the world worked to the benefit of both. Hume thought that philosophy itself was a great loser when it remained shut up in colleges and cells and secluded from the world and good company.

Earlier it had been published several times, beginning in , under the title Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals was first published in Russell and Russell, , and William B. When Strahan declined to act, the nephew made arrangements for the publication of the Dialogues in Columbia University Press, ; F. Doubleday, , pp. Clarendon Press, ; and Donald W. University of Chicago Press, Ralph Cohen New York: Bobbs-Merrill, ; Writings on Economics, ed.

University of Wisconsin Press, ; Political Essays, ed.


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by Eugene F. Miller Foreword. DAVID HUME’S greatness was recognized in his own time, as it is today, but the writings that made Hume famous are not, by and large, the same ones that support his .

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of Hume's writings, including the Essays, in relation to each other, and in the historical context of the Scottish Enlightenment and of eighteenth-century ideas of ‘polite’ culture and learning. Seen in this context the Essays are central to Hume’s work, and to the exposition of his. Essays and criticism on David Hume - Critical Essays.

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Free Essay: Hume’s Epistemology David Hume was a Scottish philosopher known for his ideas of skepticism and empiricism. Hume strived to better develop John. David Hume - More than fifty essays, papers, and reports on philosophy.