David Hume on custom and habit and living with skepticism


Abstract
This article is an exploration of David Hume's philosophy of custom and habit as a way of living with skepticism. For Hume, man is a habit-forming animal, and all politics and history take place within a history of custom and habit. This is not a bad thing: life without custom and habit would be a nightmare. Hume draws on the "new science" of thinkers such as Locke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hutcheson, and Butler to foreground the importance of custom and habit. His own contribution is a detailed exploration of philosophical psychology that brings out the role of habits of action such as politeness and manners and habits of thinking such as opinion and reasoning. Finally, life in accordance with customs and habits is not inherently conservative or quietist: there are endogenous and exogenous sources of change and progress in custom and habits
Keywords David Hume, custom, habit, skepticism, politics, politeness, opinion, reason
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