David Hume was the son of a minor Scottish landowner. His family wanted him to become a lawyer, but he felt an “insurmountable resistance to everything but philosophy and learning”. Mr. Hume attended Edinburgh University, and in 1734 he moved to a French town called La Fleche to pursue philosophy. He later returned to Britain and began his literary career. As Hume built up his reputation, he gained more and more political power.
HUME’S WRITINGS In 1742, Hume wrote Essays Moral and Political. Then in 1748, he wrote An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principals of Morals.
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HUME’S BELIEFS Hume believed that all knowledge came from experience. He also believed that a person’s experience’s existed only in the person’s mind. Hume believed that there was a world outside of human conscience, but he did not think this could be proved.
Hume grouped perceptions and experiences into one of two categories: impressions and ideas. Ideas are memories of sensations claimed Hume, but impressions are the cause of the sensation. In other words, an impression is part of a temporary feeling, but an idea is the permanent impact of this feeling. Hume believed that ideas were just dull imitations of impressons.
Hume also attacked the idea of casualty. This idea states that for all effects there is a cause. Hume said that even though the cause preceded the effect, there is no proof that the cause is responsible for the effect’s occurence.
Mr. Hume was a firm believer that the human mind invented nothing. Instead, he claimed, the human mind takes simple ideas, and turns them into complex ideas. A simple example of this is the idea of an angel. Angels are human figures with wings. What Hume claimed that an angel is formed of two simple ideas, the human figure and wings.
A more complicated example of this is heaven. When we attempt to break down the concept of heaven into simple ideas, we are left with things such as pearly gates, angels, and golden palaces. But these are all complex ideas as well (pearls+gates, gold+palaces), so it could be said that heaven is a complex idea formed by other complex ideas. The complex ideas that form it, however, are all made up of simple ideas
Hume, David (1711-1776), Scottish historian and philosopher, who influenced the development of skepticism and empiricism, two schools of philosophy. Born in Edinburgh, Hume was educated at the University of Edinburgh, which he entered at the age of 12. From 1734 to 1737 he wrote his most important philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature (3 volumes, published 1739-1740), which contains the essence of his thinking. In spite of its importance, this work was ignored by the public, probably because of its complex style. From 1762 to 1765 Hume served as secretary to the British ambassador in Paris. There he formed a friendship with French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, which later dissolved after public denunciations between the two men.
Hume’s philosophical position was that reason and rational judgments are merely habitual associations of distinct sensations or experiences. In a revolutionary step, he rejected the basic idea of causation, maintaining that “reason can never show us the connexion of one object with another, tho’ aided by experience, and the observation of their conjunction in all past instances.” His arguments called into question the fundamental laws of science, which are based on the premise that one event necessarily causes another and predictably always will. According to Hume’s philosophy, therefore, knowledge of matters of fact is impossible, although as a practical matter he freely acknowledged that people had to think in terms of cause and effect and had to assume the validity of their perceptions, or they would go mad.
David Hume, who has been described as the most acute thinker in Britain in the eighteenth century, was born in Edinburgh.
His intellectual powers were recognised with the publication of his Essays, Moral and Political in two volumes in 1741 and 1742. Employed as librarian to the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, he wrote a six- volume History of England which was extremely popular and admired for its elegant and lucid style. It placed him in the first rank of historians.
In France in 1763, Hume found himself lionised in the salons of Paris, honoured by royalty and regarded as a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Good natured, an engaging mix of simplicity and shrewdness, Hume was on friendly terms with virtually everyone. His free-thinking did, however, scandalise some: it is recorded that a devout old woman, having found the corpulent philosopher hopelessly stuck in some deep mud, agreed to extricate the great man only if he recited the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
Hume, who never married, had several homes in Edinburgh, the last of them in what is today St David Street. His tomb is in the Old Calton, Waterloo Place.
Hume was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied law at Edinburgh, and in 1734 went to La Fleche in Anjou, where he wrote his masterpiece, ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’ (1740). He extended the empiricist ideas of Locke and Berkeley. Hume developed a philosophy of radical scepticism. He repudiated the possibility of certain knowledge, maintaining that what we know is based solely on a series of sensations, and that all deductions from experience were the result of habit, not of logical conclusion.
Later he wrote several essays on Moral, Politics and Religion, and a six-volume History of England (1754–62). His views inspired Kant to argue for the inadequacy of empiricism.
Empiricism = knowledge by experience.
1711-76, Scottish philosopher and historian. Hume carried the EMPIRICISM of LOCKE and George BERKELEY to the logical extreme of radical SKEPTICISM. He repudiated the possibility of certain knowledge, finding in the mind nothing but a series of sensations, and held that cause-and-effect in the natural world derives solely from the conjunction of two impressions. Hume’s skepticism is also evident in his writings on religion, in which he rejected any rational or natural theology. Besides his chief work, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), he wrote Political Discourses (1752), The Natural History of Religion (1755), and a History of England (1754-62) that was, despite errors of fact, the standard work for many years.