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A Companion to Hume by Elizabeth S. Radcliffe (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy: Wiley-Blackwell)  David Hume's public life as a philosopher and an intellectual began with the publica­tion of the first two books of A Treatise of Human Nature in 1739 when he was only 28 years old. The third book appeared a year later. Although scarce notice was taken of his work at the time, Hume's approach to philosophy was revolutionary. In his Introduction to the Treatise and in the abstract of that work, Hume compares his invest­igations to that of some recent writers who had been applying the new methods of the seventeenth-century natural philosopher, Francis Bacon, to "the science of man." Bacon recognized the proper roles of observation and reason in the study of natural phenomena, and he was among the first to formulate a method of inquiry designed to guard against fallacious reasoning due to social and personal biases. Bacon is regarded as one of the important contributors to the development of the modern scientific method. Like­wise, Hume adopts an empirical approach to his study of human nature — but with results dramatically different from those near-contemporaries, John Locke and Francis Hutcheson, whom he cites as allies in this method.

In his lifetime, Hume went on to publish works that received more attention than the Treatise: political essays, social commentaries, a history of England, and a reformulation of his theories from the Treatise in his two famous books, An Essay concerning Human Understanding and An Essay concerning the Principles of Morals. As a consequence of his arguments, Hume was accused of skepticism, atheism, and moral corruption —positions whose attribution to Hume is largely due to oversimplifications and mis­understandings of his views. His Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, begun around 1751 and revised up until his death in 1776, was thought too controversial to publish in his lifetime. However, from the perspective of almost three centuries later, even Hume's staunchest critics admit that the breadth of Hume's thought is only matched by the genius of his arguments. Twenty-first-century scholars who study Hume's ideas are interested in his theories for much more than the significant role they played in Enlightenment thinking. Contemporary philosophers are also interested in the lasting impact of Hume's thought on philosophy of mind, knowledge, religion, action, morality, economics, and politics.

This volume is an attempt to represent the range of Hume's ideas and the ongoing debates to which his arguments have given rise. It is an attempt at the same time to show how recent close and thoughtful readings of Hume's work lead to very different conclusions about the goals and results of his projects from some readings earlier considered standard. I will say more about the debates in Hume interpretation and the contents of this volume later. I begin with a bit about the philosopher himself and his writings. The basics of his are now found in two well-known Hume biographies, J. Y. T. Greig's David Flume and E. C. Mossner's The Life of David Hume, plus recent essays by M. A. Stewart and Roger Emerson. The biographers' accounts of Hume's life reveal a man who in his younger years was intense about his beliefs and rigorous in his thinking; and who cared about his literary reputation, but not at the cost of his commitment to reasoned inquiry and intellectual honesty. He was a man with many friends who regarded him with great affection, and he repaid them with deep loyalty. He was passionately opposed to the atrocities committed in the name of institutional religion. He understood the sometimes-odd tension between philosophy and ordinary life, and expressed in his writing the need to emerge from the abstruse thinking of the study to become involved in the social affairs of common life.


This volume is organized topically, rather than by work, to reflect the array of topics on which Hume wrote and to explore each one individually. The emphasis is on Hume's philosophy, although his work as a historian is represented as well. The first three parts of the volume roughly follow the organization of A Treatise of Human Nature and its three books, on knowledge, the passions, and morality. Hume returned to some of these themes later in his two Enquiries, so the discussions in many of the essays here contain references to both the Treatise and the Enquiries. The fourth part is devoted to Hume's views on religious belief, a theme in many of his, works, but most prominent in the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. The fifth part, on Hume's economics, politics, and historical writings, draws from many of his works, but notably from his Essays Moral and Political, his Political Discourses, and the History of England. This volume also includes as its sixth part some critical discussions centered on specific issues of interpretation done in a contemporary vernacular, including essays that show the influence of Hume's theories on contemporary philosophy.

Many of the essays contained here, all original, are written by an emerging genera­tion of Hume scholars, who are now shaping and will continue to influence the understanding of Hume's thought for many years to come. (By no means does it contain essays by all who fit under this description.) At the same time, this book has contributions from a sprinkling of renowned, established scholars whose work has founded a framework for many discussions of Hume in print today. This mix was deliberate. There are also many venerated scholars of Hume whose contributions to the field are beyond estimation and for whose research and expertise we are all in great debt. Their many essays and studies can be found in various prominent volumes that have been published over the years. The influence of scholars such as David Fate Norton and M. A. Stewart (to name just two, at the risk of offending others not named here) has an abiding presence in this volume in both the discussions that depend on their interpretations and in the repeated citations to their published works in the bibliographies found here. I might mention that while I cannot do justice in the short space of this introduction to all of the themes in Hume's writings, David Fate Norton's introduction to his and Mary Norton's Oxford Philosophical Texts edition of Hume's Treatise has an excellent overview of Hume's philosophical theories, and Tom Beauchamp's introductions to the Oxford Clarendon Editions of each Enquiry offer invaluable background. The Oxford Clarendon Edition (critical edition) of the Treatise, edited by the Nortons (2007), has only just appeared at the time of this writing, and it promises to be an essential enduring resource for the scholar.

This Companion to Hume opens with Stephen Buckle's essay (ch. 1) situating Hume in the tradition of Enlightenment thinking. The Enlightenment was an era of increas­ing confidence in the human mind and in the experimental method, an era in which secular values based on nature and notions of social reform were gaining currency. Buckle explains that on stereotypical views of both the Enlightenment and Hume, Hume's theories are only coincident with the period, and he has no essential connection with the trends that were created by the social critics and reformers in France who defined the era. This is because Hume's interests have often been narrowly defined in terms of epistemology and more specifically in terms of epistemological skepticism. Buckle's essay is an excellent starting point for this collection because it corrects this mistaken branding of Hume as a destructive philosopher and opens up discussion to the ways in which Hume held constructive views in many areas — not only in epistemology, but in psychology, ethics, and politics. The theme of Hume as a naturalist, as a philosopher who, Buckle writes, proposes to replace "old metaphysical dreams with a new system of empirical studies which aim at usefulness for human lives" is prominent throughout the papers in this volume.

Mind and Knowledge

The first part, on Mind and Knowledge, starts with a discussion of Hume's theory of ideas, which is the foundation for Hume's philosophical views in almost all arenas -- not only knowledge, but psychology, ethics, and religious belief. Hume calls any content of the mind a "perception." To understand Hume's project is to understand why he distinguishes the contents of the mind on the grounds of their phenomenal "feel," how they feel to us, rather than by the supposed mental processes or external objects that might be the causes of the perceptions: We are immediately aware of the quality of an experience, but not of its cause, whether mental or extramental. So, to begin with something not inferred, as an empirical inquiry should, we must start by studying the perceptions themselves.

Don Garrett's essay (ch. 2) examines in detail the most basic distinctions Hume draws among kinds of perceptions and the fundamental principles he identifies describing their operations. Hume divides perceptions into the classes of impressions and ideas. Impressions are the vivid and forceful experiences we have when we see, hear, taste, smell, or touch (impressions of sensation) or when we feel passions such as love, pride, envy, or desire (impressions of reflection, the products of reflecting on the sources of pleasure and pain). Ideas, on the other hand, are the less vivid and less lively mental states we have when we think about the original ones. Garrett's chapter investigates the distinction Hume draws between mental states that are representations of some­thing outside themselves and those that are not, a difference which, Garrett suggests, does not correspond to Hume's basic distinction between ideas and impressions, as some critics have thought. All agree that our ideas represent the objects they are about, but so can sense impressions represent the objects that cause them, Garrett argues, and he explains many senses of representation that can be culled from Hume's discussions. Furthermore, just as physicists can formulate laws of physics to describe the regular­ities we find in nature, Hume offers principles of the mind to capture all the features of human cognition. Garrett identifies and explains several. These fundamental distinc­tions and principles articulated in Hume's philosophy of mind have numerous critical implications for the whole of his philosophical system, which are explored in the essays that follow Garrett's.

For instance, impressions return to the mind as ideas, but how we distinguish ideas of memory from those of imagination is an intriguing question in Hume's philo­sophy, which Saul Traiger (ch. 3) takes up. One way to make the distinction is to say that memory preserves the order of ideas as they came in experience, while imagina­tion does not; however, we have no way of applying such a criterion to make the distinction, since we cannot conjure up the past impressions and compare their order to our present ideas. Instead, Hume says, an idea of memory "retains a considerable degree of its first vivacity, and is somewhat intermediate betwixt an impression and an idea"; an idea of imagination "entirely loses that vivacity, and is a perfect idea" (T 1.1.3). Traiger investigates the quandaries to which Hume's characterization gives rise. Another crucial question is how Hume's principles can account for our acquisi­tion of the ideas of space and time. Wayne Waxman (ch. 4) argues for understanding Hume as employing all three of the natural relations that derive from the three prin­ciples of association in his explanation how the ideas of space and time originate in experience.

Hume's system, of course, goes beyond an account of idea acquisition to an analysis of belief formation. Since, as he argues, all beliefs in facts about the world are based on the relation of cause and effect, he offers an analysis of the how the mind originates the causal connection. That analysis, discussed here in Francis Dauer's essay (ch.1 was one that dramatically changed the way philosophers viewed causality, and Mg who could not accept Hume's theory were compelled to respond to it (most notably the German philosopher, Kant). On Hume's theory, one component in our idea] causality is necessary connection, but, Hume shows, the idea of necessity cannot: traced to any impression. Rather, Hume describes the psychological process that pr duces belief in causal connections this way: The constant conjunction of perceived eve: produces in us an association of the two perceptions, until the association becomes: strong that we feel a "determination of the mind" to pass from the perception of ti first to a thought of the second (an effect of custom and habit). When we reach it point, we posit a necessary connection between the events. Our imagination fills in t gaps in our experience by supplying the notion that the two events are necessarily bout to each other, even though they are experienced distinctly. Dauer considers tin interpretations of Hume's analysis that commit him to theses of various strengths about the status and existence of necessity in the world and in laws of nature.

Louis Loeb's essay on induction (ch. 6) continues the discussion of Hume's stir of belief: How do we ever arrive at beliefs concerning causes and effects, which a supposed to take us beyond present experience, when such beliefs have to be based; present experience? If I can add to my present experience and my memory of pa experience a belief that the future will be like the past, then I could formulate an argument with a conclusion about the future. It would go like this: (1) in the past, a experience of fire has been conjoined with the experience of heat; (2) the future w resemble the past; (3) therefore, my experiences of fire and heat will be conjoins in the future. The conclusion gets us to the future, as causal connections shout so it is indicative for us of causality. But, as Hume points out, the second premise is itself based on experience, namely, on experience of past pasts and past future and so its justification is circular. This leads to what Loeb labels the tradition interpretation of Hume as an inductive skeptic. Loeb's essay highlights the reasons I doubt this interpretation and offers in its place evidence that Hume thought inductive inference justified.

So far, then, we have Hume's account of how we attribute qualities to object but we have no account of how we come to believe that objects exist outside the min Causal reasoning can only make correlations between perceptions, and never between external objects and perceptions, so we cannot make an inference to the existent of objects in that way. And this issue is connected with another vexing question: Ho do I arrive at the idea of myself, or of my mind, as the subject, or possessor, of the perceptions, when all the perceptions in my mind, on which my ideas must be base are presumably of other objects? These discussions are taken up, respectively, 1 Michel Malherbe (ch. 7) and Donald Ainslie (ch. 8).

In his analyses, Hume concludes that we have ideas of external objects and of the self (and of other selves), but that these ideas have a special status like that of necessity. The mind does not derive these ideas directly from experience, but by operatic on the ideas that do come directly from experience; they are "fictions" the mir creates for the sake of coherence and consistency. As Malherbe points out, Hume theory of how we come to believe in the existence of bodies (objects) makes for a interesting mix of naturalism and skepticism. Ainslie's article on the self focuses on the interpretative problem Hume's account of personal identity poses. Hume explains in Book 1 of the Treatise that our notion of self is a product of our bundling our individual perceptions into a whole because we feel they are unified. However, in a puzzling passage in his Appendix, published a year or so later with Book 3, Hume contends that his own account is mistaken. In what way Hume thinks it is misguided has been the subject of much debate, which Ainslie explores. Ainslie argues for a read­ing of Hume that retains the bundle theory and instead interprets Hume's concern as one over the explanation of a belief about consciousness: Hume's worry is how we can explain our belief that the ideas in virtue of which we are aware of our own percep­tions are themselves part of the same mind as the perceptions we observe within us.

Passions and Action

In his psychology of the passions, Hume distinguishes the direct from the indirect passions. The direct passions are those which arise immediately from reflection on pleasures and pains, without the need to call upon other perceptions. (What this means is more easily explained after we have before us an account of the opposite set, the indirect passions.) The indirect passions are those which are caused in us by reflection on pleasure and pain, but in cooperation with other perceptions.

Hume explains the production of the indirect passions in terms of what he calls a double relation of impressions and ideas. His analysis is explored in careful detail here in an essay by Rachel Cohon (ch. 9). Among the indirect passions are pride, humility, ambition, vanity, love, hatred, envy, pity, malice, and generosity. For instance, when I think of my beautiful pottery, the idea of myself, which I associate with the pottery, transports my mind to the idea of the self that is the object of the passion of pride (an association of ideas); likewise, the pleasure I take in the beautiful quality of the pottery moves my mind along to the similar sensation of pleasure that is essential to pride (an association of impressions). The cause is doubly related to the effect, and both lines of mental association contribute to the generation of the passion of pride. Cohon argues that there is ample evidence to think that Hume's moral sentiments are among the indirect passions as well, even though he never explicitly says so.

The direct passions, on the other hand, occur with no introduction of an idea of self or others; we simply feel a certain way about an object that causes us pleasure or about one that causes us pain. Among the direct passions Hume lists desire, aversion, grief, joy, hope, despair, security, and volition. There are also, however, a few passions that Hume discusses as direct passions that do not arise from perceptions of pleasure and pain. These he identifies as natural impulses or instincts. Among the natural impulses or instincts Hume at one point includes "benevolence and resentment, the love of life, and kindness to children" (T and at another "desire of punishment to our enem­ies, and of happiness to our friends; hunger, lust, and a few other bodily appetites" (T Some of the passions serve as motives or potential causes to action and some do not.

Tito Magri's essay (ch. 10) develops a reading of Hume's arguments concerning the direct passions in which he uncovers two different theories of motivation in Hume. One depends on the "noncognitive" characterization of the direct passions as feelings that are caused directly by impressions of pleasure and pain, and are themselves causes of action. However, this theory, Magri argues, does not account for the common sense view of conduct and of agency that Hume himself seems to share — one that include the idea that beliefs motivate action, that agents control their conduct, and that agents consider and choose intrinsic values. Magri shows that Hume suggests another theory of motivation in which our original propensities to certain objects interact with beliefs to produce motives, and argues that in this sense, beliefs motivate. Magri finds in Hume the materials for an account of practical choice and control over actor by appealing to Hume's characterization of the "calm" passions. The calm passions are the reactions we experience when we take a more distant view of things and response to the greatest possible good or to the general and stable features of objects that make( them intrinsically desirable.

The third essay in this part, by John Bricke (ch. 11), takes up Hume's views determinism and responsibility for action. On Hume's view (and others' as well), our actions were not necessitated, they would be uncaused, and to be uncaused S to be random and left to chance. So, if we are to be held responsible for our actions they must be caused, and Hume thinks they are caused by our motives. However our motives are caused as well. Bricke explores the question how Hume attempts t combine his naturalistic view of a human being as subject to causal laws with the notion of moral responsibility.

Morality and Beauty

Moral philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were engaged t debates over how we derive our moral distinctions: Do we make them by the rations part of our nature or by the sensitive part? Hume's way of putting this question was "Do we make the distinction between virtue and vice by means of our ideas or means of our impressions?" Hume thinks our moral evaluations are ultimately about character, even though we can only observe the actions of others, which we the take as signs of their motivations, and motivations comprise character. Now, whet Hume asks whether we distinguish virtue from vice by means of ideas or by means a impressions, he is not asking whether the idea of virtue or the idea of vice derive from experience; we already know that all legitimate ideas (non-fictions) original in experience and are copies of impressions. He is asking instead whether, after Is) have acquired the ideas involved, our regarding, for instance, malice as vicious am kindness as virtuous, is something we do merely by the use of reason, or when the it requires experience. He offers the following argument: (1) Reason alone never motivates. (2) Morals excite passions and produce or prevent actions; that is, the! motivate. (3) Therefore, morality cannot be derived from reason alone (T 3.1.1).

The part opens with Charlotte Brown's careful account of Hume's ethics (ch. 12) She begins with a discussion of the views of Hume's rationalist opponents and the explains the arguments Hume offers against the view that morality cannot be base on reason by itself. Her essay explores Hume's positive views on sentiment, sympathy and judgment of character. Hume's own account says that we derive our morn distinctions from our sentiments. In the attempt to explain our mental life in terms s a few natural principles, Hume finds that a fundamental human principle, sympathy underlies our moral judgments. Why do we feel pleasure at the thought of sons,

actions or characters, and pain at the thought of others? Hume's answer is that it is natural for us to sympathize with the feelings of others. In so doing, we consider the effects of an action or character in isolation from our personal connections to the actor. More specifically, the general point of view from which we make moral distinctions is the viewpoint of one who sympathizes with the circle of people most directly affected by the agent's actions. Kate Abramson's chapter (13) then focuses on a distinctive feature of Hume's ethics, namely, its spectator-based account of virtue. What traits are virtuous or vicious is determined by the reactions of approval and disapproval of a judicious spectator to the actions others perform. Hume's view makes explanations of phenomena, like the motivating effect of moral distinctions and the action-guiding or normative force of moral judgments on actors, trickier. Various commentators have raised difficult questions about the implications of moral judgment's originating in this third-person perspective, and Abramson responds to three of them: (1) that such sentiments are inappropriate as that through which we hold one another accountable; (2) that Humean sentiments of moral disapproval lead to exclusion of those we con­demn and destroy Hume's otherwise "gentle" morality, and (3) that the standard of virtue in Hume's spectatorial account of moral evaluation allows practically any trait to qualify as a virtue.

Eugenio Lecaldano's essay (ch. 14) continues the discussion of Hume's ethics by explor­ing his theory of justice, or artificial virtue. The notions of the just and the unjust are different from those who exemplify natural virtue because acts of justice are ones we approve, not because they are the immediate sources of pleasure to those directly affected by the actor, but because we derive a kind of pleasure from the system in which they play a part. If Hume's account of justice works, then sympathy must be transformed beyond the capacity to take on the pleasures and pains of the agent's close circle into the capacity to feel approval at actions that serve the long-term good of all persons in society. Commentators have spent much effort working out Hume's answer to two key questions: (1) From what motive are the rules of justice established? (2) Why do we consider observance of these rules virtuous, and violation of them vicious? Lecaldano argues that Hume's theory of justice is a form of sentimental conventionalism, distinct from contractarian, natural law and utilitarian accounts.

Jacqueline Taylor's contribution (ch. 15) treats questions surrounding Hume's the­ory of beauty, which is in many ways analogous to his spectator theory of morality. After tracing the sentimentalist tradition out of which Hume's aesthetic theory arises, Taylor shows first how the Treatise account of beauty and morality appeals to sympathy as the basis of evaluation, offering a causal account of the origin of our sentiments. She then argues that Hume, in his later Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (often called "the second Enquiry") and his essay "Of the Standard of Taste," alters his views, giving more emphasis to reflection and to delicacy of taste in moral and artistic dis­crimination and showing an appreciation of the historical and cultural diversity in moral and aesthetic values.

Finally, Annette Baier (ch. 16) also discusses the issue that has long fascinated Hume commentators: Just how is the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals account of ethics different from that of the Treatise, and why did Hume himself write that the second Enquiry was his best book published to that point? Baier herself is not sure who should judge whether Hume's assessment was correct, but she explains her admiration for the Enquiry, due to several pleasing features, including its "intellectuahe acuteness," "gentle morality," "literary craft," "lightness of touch," and "playful wit." Baier explores in great depth the ideas of the second Enquiry, the thinkers who influenced Hume in its writing, and why Hume might have been so pleased by it.


Scholars debate the question whether Hume was an atheist, an agnostic, or perhaps even a deist. Hume's perspective on religion is introduced here with Terence Penelhum's essay (ch. 17) on the intellectual and cultural factors that set the backdrop against which Hume's own views on religion were developed. Penelhum identifies four influences on Hume: (1) his own experience with Scottish Presbyter­ianism and its doctrines of predestination and original sin; (2) the skepticism of the ancient philosopher, Cicero; (3) the writings of Pierre Bayle, who attempted to undermine the notion that atheism entailed moral depravity; and (4) the debate between the deists and Joseph Butler, over whether God intervenes in the natural order. Penelhum shows how certain views in Hume's writings on religion are in interesting ways either responses to or developments of the influences he identifies.

Martin Bell's essay (ch. 18) focuses on Hume's treatment of beliefs about the nature and existence of God. His discussion draws from a section of Hume's first Enquiry (section 11), where Hume argues that natural religion (religious beliefs based on reasoning) can have no practical consequences, and thus no implications for the moral life. Bell's discussion, however, highlights Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, examining the debate among the characters in the dialogues over arguments for God's existence. The Dialogues have been the source of endless interpretive debates, key among them which character actually represents Hume's views, and Behehe addresses some of these interesting questions. The final essay of the part, by Michaehe Levine (ch. 19), analyzes Hume's arguments concerning belief in miracles and in immortality. Levine shows how Hume's discussion of miracles is based on his theory of ideas and his analysis of causation, which do not warrant the positing of super­natural causes. He also examines the details of Hume's several arguments against belief in immortality, a belief that Hume attributes ultimately to the work of the passions of hope and fear over reason.

Economics, Politics, and History

Hume occupies a prominent place in the history of classical economic theory. He is best known for his anti-mercantilist arguments; that is, for arguments against the view that a country's wealth was determined by the amount of money (gold) it held and that it should sell and export more than it imports. Hume held, instead, in a country taking in increasingly large amounts of money, the price of goods there would increase, thus forcing a demand for imported items. Thus, exports are susceptible to an economic limiting mechanism, which became known as the price — specie — flow mechanism. It was Hume's view that all nations were wealthier as a result of mutual foreign trade. Tatsuya Sakamoto here (ch. 20) explains the sometimes-paradoxical content of Hume's economic theory, developed mostly in Hume's Political Discourses. Sakamoto offers insights not only into the content of Hume's views on topics like luxury, money, and foreign trade, but also into the reasons why Hume's writings have received great and lasting acclaim in the history of economics, despite the fact that some of his predecessors had attempted to promote similar ideas.

Richard Dees suggests in his chapter (21) on Hume's politics that Hume's theory of the origin and justification of government has been appropriated by conservatives and liberals alike, and many factions in between. Hume was liberal in his valuing of the liberties, like freedom of the press, and conservative in his discouraging reforms that departed from well-entrenched customs. On the other hand, he did believe in a right to revolution under circumstances in which the abuse of authority undermined the security that governments exist in order to guarantee. He refused to affiliate with either of Britain's two political parties, the Whigs and the Tories. As Dees shows, drawing from Hume's Treatise, Essays and the History of England, Hume's theory of government is very subtle and complex, perhaps best thought of as a form of pragmatism, a theory in which government exists to solve certain problems whose solutions require familiarity with local details and specific circumstances.

Mark Phillips remarks in his piece (ch. 22) on Hume's History of England that "by the time he died in 1776, Hume was better known to British readers as a historian than as a philosopher." Because of its style and national narrative, the History finally brought Hume the literary fame he claimed to crave; and yet it is much less known to Hume's present-day readers than his philosophical writings. Phillips's essay offers insights into several facets of Hume's History: the events preceding the "moment" in which Hume wrote the History; Hume's development of a new historiographic style with government, manners, finances, arms, trade, learning as central themes; the maxims to which Hume adhered in his historical interpretations; and Hume's own recasting of British history and characters.

Contemporary Themes

The final part of this volume presents some critical discussions framed in contem­porary terms. Admittedly, such a characterization of essays is somewhat arbitrary, given that many of the other chapters here also introduce contemporary debates in Hume scholarship and all cite recent literature. Nonetheless, these particular essays ask questions about Hume that come from our twenty-first-century perspective, using concepts that philosophers have developed since Hume as tools of critical discussion.

Janet Broughton (ch. 23) confronts directly the question broached in several previ­ous essays, whether Hume is a skeptic or a philosophical naturalist. That is, is Hume's philosophy meant to undermine our beliefs in causality, the self, and the external world, showing them philosophical or rationally unjustified? Or is his aim to reveal how the mind arrives naturally at certain beliefs that employ fictions, with the purpose of developing standards of belief-acquisition for these beliefs, knowing they are useful in ordinary life and that we cannot get along without them? Peter Kail (ch. 24) addresses a related interpretive question, one also suggested in Dauer's essay on causality: Does Hume think that talk of causality, external objects, and the self reduces to (is nothing more than) talk of perceptions experienced in certain patterns (the "Old Hume" interpretation), or is there something else, something extra-mental that these claims are about, even though we cannot access that something else "New Hume" interpretation, prominent in the last century)? Kail's essay shows us what constitutes the realist, New Hume interpretation is intricate, and the answer the question posed is even more so.

William E. Morris (ch. 25) continues part VI with his discussion of Hume's lull( in contemporary epistemology. Morris shows how Hume's thought has inform current debates over the problems of induction and causation, and how his views have affinities with contemporary naturalized epistemology and cognitive science Morris claims that Hume's most significant and underappreciated contribution epistemology is his firm refusal to do metaphysics. Many critics either conscious or unwittingly commit Hume to metaphysical positions, when, in fact, Morris argues Hume's rejection of traditional approaches to philosophy partly "consists in shift; the ground of discussion from what he regards as incoherent metaphysics to the area where he believes we can have a fruitful discussion — where we have a cleaver understanding of the cognitive contents of the central ideas involved."

Elizabeth Radcliffe then explains the roots in Hume of the contemporary Hume's  theory of motivation, the "belief/desire" model, which has become the stall theory of motivation for naturalists. One is said to have a reason for action when( has a desire for something and a belief about how to attain it. This theory of real( for action has set up one side of an ongoing philosophical debate between the press day Humeans and present-day rationalists, with the latter claiming that reasons action need not always depend on desires and that they can even have authority of one's desires. This live debate in motivational psychology is an impressive illustrate of Hume's enduring impact on central philosophical concerns.

This volume concludes with two essays on major contemporary interpretive questions arising out of the study of Hume's moral theory. First, Tom Beauchamp (ch.2 addresses a deep concern of moralists: does Hume have a theory of normative whereby he prescribes a certain moral system for human beings, or is his project ms to be only descriptive of the moral practices to which we adhere? Many scholar understand it in the latter way, and Beauchamp corrects this perception by arguing that Hume's whole philosophical system offers norms for developing both cause judgments about the world and moral judgments about character. Second, because Hume's emphasis on sentiment as the origin of morality, readers often ask the question whether Hume intended to identify moral judgments with feelings, a view which implies that our claims about morality do not describe anything real; instead, they just expressions of the feelings we have toward actions and characters. This reading makes Hume's ethics a version of what contemporary philosophers have called more noncognitivism, and some critics have taken for granted that this is the view with which Hume would identify. Nicholas Sturgeon (ch. 28) concludes the volume by addressing this interpretation of Hume and asking about its ties to twentieth-century emotivism He shows that an interpretation of Hume on this score relies on answers to comp questions — on interpreting Hume's theses that morality is not a matter of fact discovered by reason but rather by sentiment, that an "ought" conclusion cannot deduced from an "is" premise, and that moral judgments affect motives and action In the end, as one might expect from a philosopher as nuanced as Hume, his mo theory defies clear categorization.


A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume (Dover) slightly altered republication of the edition published by Oxford at the Clarendon Press, London, 1888 (original three-volume edition published in London, 1739-1740). Index. Appendix. "One of the greatest of all philosophical works, covering knowledge, imagination, emotion, morality, and justice." —Baroness Warnock, The List

Published in the mid-eighteenth century and received with indifference (it "fell dead-born from the press," noted the author), David Hume's comprehensive three-volume A Treatise of Human Nature has withstood the test of time and has had enormous impact on subse­quent philosophical thought. Hume—whom Kant famously credited with having "interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investi­gations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direc­tion"—intended this work as an observationally grounded study of human nature. He employed John Locke's empiric principles, con­structing a theory of knowledge to serve as a foundation for the eval­uation of metaphysical ideas.

Reprinted here in one volume, the Treatise begins with an examination of the nature of ideas: their origins and connections, modes and substance, and abstract qualities. The work's considerations of exis­tence, knowledge, and identity explore the ways in which people use these concepts as a basis for firm but unproven beliefs. The second part surveys the passions, from pride and humility to contempt and respect, analyzing their roles in human choices and actions. The book concludes with a meditation on morals and an in-depth explanation of the perceived distinctions between virtue and vice.

One of philosophy's most important works and a key to modern studies of eighteenth-century Western thought, A Treatise of Human Nature is essential reading for all students of philosophy and history.

Four Dissertations and Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul by David Hume, Introductions by John Immerwahr and John Valdimir Price and Preface by James Fieser (St Augustine Press) In 1756 a volume of Hume’s essays entitled Five Dissertations was printed and ready for distribution. The essays included "The Natural History of Religion," "Of the Passions," "Of Tragedy," "Of Suicide," and "Of the Immortality of the Soul." The latter two essays made direct attacks on common religious doctrines by defending a person’s moral right to commit suicide and by criticizing the idea of life after death. Early copies were passed around, and someone of influence threatened to prosecute Hume’s publisher if the book was distributed as is. The printed copies of Five Dissertations were then physically altered, with a new essay "Of the Standard of Taste" inserted in place of the two removed essays. Hume also took this opportunity to alter two particularly offending paragraphs in the Natural History. The essays were then bound with the new title Four Dissertations and distributed in January 1757.
The essays in Four Dissertations stand together as a unified whole, showcasing his psychology of the passions and demonstrating its application to both religion and aesthetics.
This edition also includes Hume’s extended Dedication, a passionate endorsement of intellectual and artistic freedom, which has been out of print since the original publication in 1757.
The essays on suicide and the immortality of the soul, long separated from the other essays, are here finally put back, as intended by Hume. Included are "Two Letters on Suicide" from Rousseau’s Eloisa.

The Clarendon Edition of the Works of David Hume

The Clarendon Hume will include all of his works except The History of England and minor historical writings; it will be the only thorough critical edition, and will provide a far more extensive scholarly treatment than any previous editions. It offers authoritative annotation, bibliographical information, and indexes, and draws upon the major advances in textual scholarship that have been made since the publication of earlier editions advances both in the understanding of editorial principle and practice and in knowledge of the history of Hume's own texts.

The Philosophical Works General Editors: Professors T L. Beauchamp (Georgetown University), David Fate Norton (McGill University) M. A. Stewart (University of Lancaster)

Vols. 1 and 2: A Treatise of Human Nature, the Abstract, and A Letter from a Gentleman

Vol. 3: An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

Vol. 4: An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morality (paperback) Shortly before his death, David Hume declared his An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morality (1751) to be the best of his many writings. In this highly influential work, Hume sets out his theory of justice and benevolence and the other virtues, and argues that morality is founded on the natural feelings or sentiments of humankind. The text printed in this edition is that of the Clarendon critical edition of Hume's works. This edition also includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings.

Vol. 5: The Natural History of Religion and A Dissertation on the Passions

Vols. 6 and 7: Essays Moral, Political, and Literary

Vol. 8: Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and other posthumous materials

 An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: A Critical Edition by David Hume, edited by Tom. L. Beauchamp (The Clarendon Edition of the Works of David Hume: Oxford University Press) (PAPERBACK)With An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, first published in 1748, David Hume began the task of recasting the philosophical views originally set out in his Treatise of Human Nature, and presented them to a broad educated readership. When Hume recalled the first Enquiry in his autobiography, he stated that it seas `at first but little more successful than the Treatise'. Over time, however, it grew substantially in reputation and was issued in ten new editions during Hume's lifetime.

Originally written as a collection of essays centered on human understanding and the principles of human nature, the first Enquiry is in some respects the quintessential Enlightenment book. It incorporates a confidence in science, a daring attempt at new discoveries about the human mind, an opposition to superstition and fanaticism, an emphasis on human nature, a restrained skepticism about traditional views of knowledge and belief, and a mood of reform and critique. Hume regarded the bulk of ancient and modern philosophers as having an inflated, even pretentious, faith in the powers of human reason. Many of these philosophers thought that, using reason, they could establish the existence and nature of God, identify the most basic entities that comprise the universe, and grasp eternal truths of morality. Every section of the Enquiry carries the message that these philosophers are overly confident. Hume's theses about the limitations of human understanding form the cement of his work in this book and the reason for its title.

The authoritative version of the text presented here is based upon the 1772 edition that was seen through the press by Hume himself. The editor's introduction sets the work in its historical context, and a large body of annotations provide information about Hume's sources, allusions, citations, and meanings. A biographical appendix identifies the many people mentioned by Hume. Separate and extensive bibliographies list the works cited by Hume and by the editor. Hume's original index is reproduced, together with a new general index by the editor. An editorial appendix establishes the substantive variants in all the editions of the work and explains editorial emendations to the text.

Tom L. Beauchamp is Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University, Washington DC. He is one of the General Editors of the Clarendon Hume. He is co‑author of Principles of Biomedical Ethics (1979, 5th edn. 2001), Hume and the Problem of Causation (1981), and A History and Theory of Informed Consent (1986), and editor of The Clarendon Edition of An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume (1998).

Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hume on Religion by David O'Connor (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks: Routledge) introduces his major work on the subject, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and assesses Hume's life and the background to the work. The ideas and text of the work are also considered along with Hume's continuing importance to philosophy today.

Contents: Preface; 1. Hume's Life and Philosophical Project; 2. Clearing the Ground; 3. The Design Argument; 4. Examination of the Design Argument: I; 5. Examination of the Design Argument: II; 6. The Cosmological Argument; 7. Other Theistic Arguments; 8. The Problem of Evil; 9. The Limits of Reason; Index of Names; Index of Concepts


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