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David Hume


Scottish philosopher, historian, and essayist. Hume is the most influentual thoroughgoing naturalist in modern philosophy, and a pivotal figure of the Enlightenment. Born the second son of a minor Scottish landowner, Hume attended Edinburgh University. In 1734 he removed to the little town of La Flèche in Anjou to write and study. In 1739 he returned to Britain. Hume settled down to a life of literary work, mainly residing in Edinburgh. During this time his reputation slowly grew until he became acknowledged as one of Britain's principal men of letters. In 1763 he was appointed Secretary to the Embassy and later chargè d'affaires in Paris, and during this period enjoyed unprecedented fame and adulation as one of the principal architects of the Enlightment. In 1766 Hume accompanied Rousseau to England, but the trip ended with paranoid complaints of persecution by Rousseau, against which Hume defended himself with dignity. Adam Smith wrote of Hume that "upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his life-time and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will admit".


When Hume went back to Britain it was to oversee the printing of his first and greatest philosophical work Treaties of Human Nature. In 1742 he produced the Essays Moral and Political. They where followed by An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1748 and An Enquiry Concerning the Principals of Morals. These works are usually regarded as attempts to lay out the philosophy of the Treatise in a more accessible manner. In the following decade Hume began publication of the work he was best known for in his own time, The History of England (1754-1762). His last work, The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, was published after his death by his nephew.

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Hume On The Web

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