A Treatise of Human Nature by David HumeA Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), David Humes comprehensive attempt to base philosophy on a new, observationally grounded study of human nature, is one of the most important texts in Western philosophy. It is also the focal point of current attempts to understand 18th-century philosophy. The Treatise first explains how we form such concepts as cause and effect, external existence, and personal identity, and to form compelling but unconfirmable beliefs in the entities represented by these concepts. It then offers a novel account of the passions, explains freedom and necessity as they apply to human choices and actions, and concludes with detailed explanations of how we distinguish between virtue and vice and of the different kinds of virtue. Humes Abstract of the Treatise, also included in the volume, outlines his chief argument regarding our conception of, and belief in, cause and effect. The texts printed in this volume are those of the critical edition of Humes philosophical works now being published by the Clarendon Press. The volume includes a substantial introduction explaining the aims of the Treatise as a whole and of each of its ten parts, extensive annotations, a glossary of terms, a comprehensive index, and suggestions for further reading.
On Science and Philosophy in Hume's Treatise of Human Nature
Hume begins by arguing for the validity of empiricism, the premise that all of our knowledge is based on our experiences, and using this method to examine several philosophical concepts. First, he demonstrates that all of our complex ideas are formed out of simpler ideas, which were themselves formed on the basis of impressions we received through our senses.
A Treatise Of Human Nature, Volume 1
He uniquely merged intellectual rigour with stylistic elegance, writing…. Instinctively irreverential, he used both works to attack the conventionally religious, socially conservative figures who then dominated philosophy at Oxford. Nevertheless, he conceded that sometimes sleep, fever, or madness can produce ideas that approximate to the force of impressions, and some impressions can approach the weakness of ideas. But such occasions are…. In A Treatise of Human Nature —40 , he points, almost as an afterthought, to the fact that writers on morality regularly start by making various observations about human nature or about the existence of a god—all statements of fact about what is the case—and then suddenly….
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A Treatise of Human Nature —40 is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume , considered by many to be Hume's most important work and one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy. In the introduction Hume presents the idea of placing all science and philosophy on a novel foundation: namely, an empirical investigation into human nature. Impressed by Isaac Newton 's achievements in the physical sciences, Hume sought to introduce the same experimental method of reasoning into the study of human psychology, with the aim of discovering the "extent and force of human understanding". Against the philosophical rationalists , Hume argues that passion rather than reason governs human behaviour. He introduces the famous problem of induction , arguing that inductive reasoning and our beliefs regarding cause and effect cannot be justified by reason; instead, our faith in induction and causation is the result of mental habit and custom. Hume defends a sentimentalist account of morality, arguing that ethics is based on sentiment and passion rather than reason, and famously declaring that "reason is, and ought only to be the slave to the passions". Hume also offers a skeptical theory of personal identity and a compatibilist account of free will.