Hume: An Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris

By James A. Harris

This can be the 1st booklet to supply a finished evaluate of the complete profession of 1 of Britain's maximum males of letters. It units in biographical and ancient context all of Hume's works, from A Treatise of Human Nature to The historical past of britain, bringing to mild the most important impacts at the process Hume's highbrow improvement, and paying cautious consciousness to the variations among the big variety of literary genres with which Hume experimented. the most important occasions in Hume's existence are absolutely defined, however the major concentration is on Hume's intentions as a philosophical analyst of human nature, politics, trade, English heritage, and faith. cautious recognition is paid to Hume's highbrow kin together with his contemporaries. The objective is to bare Hume as a guy intensely curious about the belief of an excellent of open-minded, target, rigorous, dispassionate discussion approximately all of the critical questions confronted through his age.

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He told him that he was still experiencing the after-effects of his breakdown. He was still unable to concentrate for any length of time, and as a result was unable to give proper order to his thoughts. 4 He had decided, therefore, to give up on the life of the mind for a while, and to learn something of the world. He had got a job with a sugar merchant in Bristol, four hundred miles away in the south-west of England. 6 There he wrote the bulk of his first book, A Treatise of Human Nature. In this chapter we follow Hume from his time as a student at Edinburgh to his departure for France in the summer of 1734.

I then move on to The History of England, Under the House of Tudor, begun in early 1757 and published in the spring of 1759. This was a corroboration of the view expressed in both the political essays and The History of Great Britain that Tudor England was a more or less absolute monarchy from beginning to end. Elizabeth’s reign, which took up the entirety of the second volume, was in other words not the golden age of liberty depicted in standard Whig history. The Tories, and the Walpolean Whigs, had been right to downplay the supposed contrast between the last of the Tudors and the first of the Stuarts.

It is no longer necessary, on this way of reading Hume, to choose between, on the one hand, the nineteenth-century story according to which he abandoned philosophy for less demanding subjects out of a combination of intellectual laziness and the desire for an easy kind of fame, and, on the other hand, the more recent story according to Introduction 25 which all of his writings are to be seen as continuations and developments of the project adumbrated in the introduction of his first book. We can say instead both that Hume never gave up on philosophy and that there was nothing systematic about the manner in which he chose the topics to which philosophical reasoning would be applied.

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