"David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) presents the most important account of skepticism in the history of modern philosophy. In this lucid and thorough introduction to the work, John P. Wright examines the development of Hume's ideas in the Treatise, their relation to eighteenth-century theories of the imagination and passions, and the reception they received when Hume published the Treatise. He explains Hume's arguments concerning the inability of reason to establish the basic beliefs which underlie science and morals, as (...) well as his arguments showing why we are nevertheless psychologically compelled to accept such beliefs. The book will be a valuable guide for those seeking to understand the nature of modern skepticism and its connection with the founding of the human sciences during the Enlightenment"--Provided by publisher. (shrink)
He is the darling of naturalism or the bogeyman of scepticism, a friend to virtue or an unwitting party to incipient nihilism. He is politically conservative, or a liberator from old views. He is a fideist, an advocate of faith over reason, or a precursor of Richard Dawkins.
The title of my book, Projection and Realism in Hume's Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), might mislead. One might protest, with some justification, that since neither "projection" nor "realism" is Hume's term and that both carry a severe threat of anachronism, discussing them in connection with Hume is misguided. Why might the readers of this journal wish to read such a work?Well, the first thing to note is that Hume's name has come to be associated with the metaphor of projection, (...) understood as having some kind of "non-realist" connotations, and, at the same time, he attracted readings that make him a "realist" of some sort or another in different areas.1 So, there seems to be some tension here. .. (shrink)
I am extremely grateful to all my commentators for their very careful engagement with my book.1 Some disagreements, I think, may stem from my failure to be sufficiently clear and so are only apparent. Other objections are not and seem to be spot on. I will not be able to give fully adequate answers to all the objections, since some require sustained discussion of some very fundamental issues that is simply impossible in this forum.Schliesser's comments concern (a) my discussion of (...) philosophical and natural relations and their connection with reason, and (b) my reading of Hume's attitude regarding the external world.In my reading of "reason" in Hume I make some abstract distinctions. We can think of reason as a .. (shrink)
Traditionally Hume is seen as offering an 'empiricist' critique of 'rationalism'. This view is often illustrated -- or rejected -- by comparing Hume's views with those of Descartes'. However the textual evidence shows that Hume's most sustained engagement with a canonical 'rationalist' is with Nicolas Malebranche. The author shows that the fundamental differences (among the many similarities) between the two on the self and causal power do indeed rest on a principled distinction between 'rationalism' and 'empiricism', and that there is (...) some truth in the traditional story. This, however, is very far from saying that Hume's general orientation is an attack on something called 'rationalism'. (shrink)
Religion and the external world -- Projection, religion, and the external world -- The senses, reason and the imagination -- Realism, meaning and justification : the external world and religious belief -- Modality, projection and realism -- 'Our profound ignorance' : causal realism, and the failure to detect necessity -- Spreading the mind : projection, necessity and realism -- Into the labyrinth : persons, modality, and Hume's undoing -- Value, projection, and realism -- Gilding : projection, value and secondary qualities (...) -- The gold : good, evil, belief and desire -- The golden : relational values, realism and a moral sense. (shrink)
Hume's 'Natural History of Religion' offers a naturalized account of the causes of religious thought, an investigation into its 'origins' rather than its 'foundation in reason'. Hume thinks that if we consider only the causes of religious belief, we are provided with a reason to suspend the belief. I seek to explain why this is so, and what role the argument plays in Hume's wider campaign against the rational acceptability of religious belief. In particular, I argue that the work threatens (...) a form of fideism which maintains that it is rationally permissible to maintain religious belief in the absence of evidence or of arguments in its favour. I also discuss the 'argument from common consent', and the relative superiority of Hume's account of the origins of religious belief. (shrink)
This paper discusses some key connections between Berkeley's reflections on language in the introduction to his Treatise on the Principles of Human Knowledge and the doctrines espoused in the body of that work, in particular his views on vulgar causal discourse and his response to the objection that his metaphysics imputes massive error to ordinary thought. I argue also that there is some mileage in the view that Berkeley's thought might be an early form of non-cognitivism.
Impressions of Hume collects brand-new essays from leading scholars in different philosophical, historiographical, and literary traditions within which Hume is a canonical figure. To some his writings are vehicles for intuitions, problems, and arguments which are at the center of contemporary philosophical reflection; others locate Hume's views against the background of concerns and debates of his own time. Hume's texts may be read as highly sophisticated literary-cum-philosophical creations, or as moments in the (...) construction of the ideology of modernity; these are "open" texts which present their reader with a bounty of different materials and inspirations. (shrink)
This is a review essay of Richman and Read (eds.) _The New Hume Debate (London: Routledge, 2000). The essay is highly critical of how the debate concerning whether Hume is a causal realist is presently conceived by its opponents, and argues in favour of a _New Hume position.