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David Hume’s (1711–1776) Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

29 September, 2015 - 12:13

Born in Edinburgh, David Hume published his A Treatise of Human Nature in 1739–40. Recognizing that it ‘fell dead-born from the press,’ he started from scratch, repudiating the youthful Treatise and asking to be judged on the basis of his Enquiries instead. The first of these enquiries, from 1748, is the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The contents:

  1. Of the different Species of Philosophy
  2. Of the Origin of Ideas
  3. Of the Association of Ideas
  4. Sceptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding
  5. Sceptical Solution of these Doubts
  6. Of Probability
  7. Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion
  8. Of Liberty and Necessity
  9. Of the Reason of Animals
  10. Of Miracles
  11. Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State
  12. Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy

In these selections, I have omitted Section One. Section Nine: Of the Reason of Animals makes much more sense if it is read immediately after Section Seven: Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion, Part One. (Textual note: the best recent editions of Hume’s works are in the Oxford series (the Treatise, edited by Norton & Norton; Enquiry, edited by T. Beauchamp.)