Hume’s Progressive View of Human Nature

Hume Studies 26 (1):87-108 (2000)
How much of the “science of man” that Hume goes on to develop is a recapitulation of the work of the other British philosophers and how much is new? When is Hume borrowing the insights of those who came before and when is he innovating? It is difficult to answer these questions, and not just because the rules of attribution in the eighteenth century were looser than in ours. For at times the verve with which Hume writes can lead one to think that he is in the grip of a new discovery when he is in fact recounting the ideas of a predecessor. And at other times Hume puts others’ ideas to work in a manner that they themselves never considered or would have actively opposed.
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