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Book Title: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding|
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The author of the book: David Hume
Edition: Oxford University Press, USA
Date of issue: July 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9780199211586
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 352 KB
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David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding is the definitive statement of the greatest philosopher in the English language. His arguments in support of reasoning from experience, and against the "sophistry and illusion"of religiously inspired philosophical fantasies, caused controversy in the eighteenth century and are strikingly relevant today, when faith and science continue to clash.
The Enquiry considers the origin and processes of human thought, reaching the stark conclusion that we can have no ultimate understanding of the physical world, or indeed our own minds. In either sphere we must depend on instinctive learning from experience, recognizing our animal nature and the limits of reason. Hume's calm and open-minded skepticism thus aims to provide a new basis for science, liberating us from the "superstition" of false metaphysics and religion. His Enquiry remains one of the best introductions to the study of philosophy, and his edition places it in its historical and philosophical context.
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Read information about the authorDavid Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.
In light of Hume's central role in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy, Bryan Magee judged him as a philosopher "widely regarded as the greatest who has ever written in the English language." While Hume failed in his attempts to start a university career, he took part in various diplomatic and military missions of the time. He wrote The History of England which became a bestseller, and it became the standard history of England in its day.
His empirical approach places him with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others at the time as a British Empiricist.
Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic "science of man" that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably René Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behaviour. He also argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. He argued that inductive reasoning and therefore causality cannot be justified rationally. Our assumptions in favour of these result from custom and constant conjunction rather than logic. He concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self.
Hume's compatibilist theory of free will proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles, and expounded the is–ought problem.
Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent western philosophy, especially on utilitarianism, logical positivism, William James, the philosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, theology and other movements and thinkers. In addition, 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). Immanuel Kant credited Hume with awakening him from "dogmatic slumbers".
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