Discovering David Hume

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

According to Hume, where does all human knowledge derive from?

What did Hume argue about inductive reasoning and belief in causality?

What did Hume famously proclaim about reason and passions?

What did Hume's philosophy of religion include?

What is Hume's theory of free will?

What did Hume deny about the self?

What did Hume argue about moral decisions?

What is Hume's problem of induction?

What did Hume's dissertation 'The Natural History of Religion' argue?


David Hume: Scottish Enlightenment Philosopher and Historian

  • David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, librarian, and essayist.

  • Hume is best known for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism.

  • Hume argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge derives solely from experience.

  • Hume argued that inductive reasoning and belief in causality cannot be justified rationally; instead, they result from custom and mental habit.

  • Hume held that passions rather than reason govern human behaviour, famously proclaiming that "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions."

  • Hume's philosophy of religion, including his rejection of miracles and the argument from design for God's existence, were especially controversial for their time.

  • Hume's compatibilist theory of free will takes causal determinism as fully compatible with human freedom.

  • Hume denied that humans have an actual conception of the self, positing that we experience only a bundle of sensations.

  • Hume's legacy affected utilitarianism, logical positivism, the philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive science, theology, and many other fields and thinkers.

  • Hume's first major work, A Treatise of Human Nature, was completed in 1738 at age 28 and is regarded as one of the most important in the history of Western philosophy.

  • Hume's six-volume The History of England became a bestseller and the standard history of England in its day, and he was the dominant interpreter of English history for over 60 years.

  • Hume left a lasting impression on Immanuel Kant, who credited Hume as the inspiration who had awakened him from his "dogmatic slumbers."Summary Title: The Life, Writings, and Philosophy of David Hume

  • David Hume was an 18th-century Scottish philosopher, historian, and economist.

  • He fell out with fellow philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, leading him to write an account of the dispute.

  • Hume served as Under Secretary of State for the Northern Department and was given "all the secrets of the Kingdom."

  • Hume's nephew co-founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is buried with him in Old Calton Cemetery.

  • Hume wrote an autobiographical essay titled "My Own Life," where he confessed that his "love of literary fame" was his "ruling passion" in life.

  • Hume's best work was "Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals," according to his own retrospective judgment.

  • Hume had complex relations with religion and the state, but his friends never had to defend his character or conduct.

  • Hume died of abdominal cancer and requested a simple Roman tomb inscribed with his name and birth and death years.

  • Hume's philosophy emphasizes the distinction between impressions and ideas, simple and complex perceptions, and the principles of association.

  • Hume's problem of induction challenges the plausibility of inductive reasoning and the notion of causation.

  • Hume's theory of causation separates matters of fact and relations of ideas, which he calls "Hume's fork."

  • Hume's causal inference consists of three branches: the critical phase, the constructive phase, and belief.David Hume's Philosophy in Bullet Points

  • Hume believed in causation as the regular succession of events, but also argued that a necessary connection underpins the conjunction of causally conjoined events.

  • Hume believed that the self is nothing but a bundle of experiences linked by the relations of causation and resemblance.

  • Hume denied the existence of practical reason as a principle and claimed that morality is capable of producing effects in people that reason alone cannot create.

  • Hume's moral sentimentalism was grounded in the belief that moral decisions are grounded in moral sentiment, rather than knowing.

  • Hume put forward the is-ought problem, denying the possibility of logically deriving what ought to be from what is.

  • Hume's ideas about aesthetics and the theory of art are spread throughout his works, but are particularly connected with his ethical writings.

  • Hume was a classical compatibilist about the notions of freedom and determinism, seeking to reconcile human freedom with the mechanist view that human beings are part of a deterministic universe.

  • Hume argued that in order to be held morally responsible, it is required that our behaviour be caused or necessitated.

  • Hume's dissertation "The Natural History of Religion" argues that the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all derive from earlier polytheistic religions.

  • Hume's personal religious views have been the subject of much debate, with some considering him an atheist, while others describe him as an agnostic or Pyrrhonian skeptic.

  • Hume was critical of the Catholic Church and extreme Protestant sects, but believed that polytheism had much to commend it over monotheism.

  • Hume believed that the errors in religion are dangerous, and those in philosophy are only ridiculous.Hume's views on religion were complex, with some arguing he was a religious naturalist, while others suggest he was an irreligious sceptic or weakly deistic. He critiqued the argument from design, suggesting it relied on experience and observation, and questioned whether the universe was proof of a deity. Hume also challenged the notion of miracles, suggesting they were unlikely to have occurred due to a lack of empirical evidence and the tendency of people to lie or be mistaken. However, he recognized that belief in miracles was popular and often uncritically accepted. Hume's six-volume work, The History of England, was a seminal text in the field of cultural history, with a focus on the quest for liberty and the disastrous effects of religion on progress. His coverage of political upheavals took a moderate royalist position, and he emphasized religious differences more than constitutional issues. Hume's writings have been described as seminal to conservative theory, but his ideas, such as limited government and constitutionalism, are first principles of liberalism. A major concern of Hume's political philosophy was the importance of the rule of law.


Test your knowledge of the life, writings, and philosophy of David Hume, one of the most influential philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment. This quiz covers Hume's views on empiricism, skepticism, naturalism, religion, free will, and more. Whether you're a philosophy student or simply interested in learning more about this fascinating figure, this quiz is sure to challenge and enlighten you.

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