The Life of David Hume

Oxford University Press UK (1954)


Mossner's Life of David Hume remains the standard biography of this great thinker and writer. First published in 1954, and updated in 1980, it is now reissued in paperback in response to increased interest in Hume. E. C. Mossner was Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. 'Mossner's work is a quite remarkable scholarly achievement; it will be an indispensable tool for Hume scholars and a treasure-trove of information for all students of the intellectual and literary history of the eighteenth century' Richard H. Popkin in the Philological Quarterly.

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Man of Letters

David Hume lived during the Enlightenment Age amidst that welter of ideas and social forces that was to make the eighteenth century part-and-parcel of modernity. However, it was Hume's distinctive, if not his unique, feature that while seeking to revolutionise the study of human nature, he... see more

Student Days at Edinburgh

When Joseph Home went to Edinburgh University in 1697, he matriculated under John Row. Under the system of rotating regents, this meant that, during his entire stay, he was conducted by that distinguished Hebrew scholar through the classes of Greek, logic, natural philosophy, and moral phi... see more

Law versus Literature

After leaving Edinburgh University in 1725 or 1726, without taking his degree, David Hume settled down to a prolonged course of private study that lasted until 1734. This critical period in his intellectual development is summarily dismissed in My Own Life. The retrospective account, howev... see more

Tranquillity in France

David Hume must have experienced poignant emotions on first setting foot in France. The national, cultural, and sentimental ties of many centuries that bound Scotland to France would not have been repudiated by the young Revolutionary Whig, and indeed would rather have been augmented by hi... see more

A Treatise of Human Nature

At the close of his life David Hume had no lingering doubts about the vitality of the first offspring of his intellect; he was convinced that it had never been alive. ‘Never literary Attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature’, he wrote in My Own Life. The issue might se... see more

Academic Illusion

It is perhaps a truism that scholars are peculiarly susceptible to returning to the academic societies that nourished their scholarship. If so, David Hume was no exception to the rule. The chance to succeed Dr John Pringle in the chair of Ethics and Pneumatical Philosophy at Edinburgh Univ... see more

Pax Ecclesiastica

The Select Society of Edinburgh exerted a great influence on the national life of Scotland, culturally, intellectually, and socially. The cultural success of the Select Society marks in no small measure the success of the philosophy of Moderatism in the Church, which itself was part-and-pa... see more

The History of England

‘Human Nature is the only science of man’, David Hume had written in the Treatise of Human Nature, and the pronouncement forms the basis for his concern with both philosophy and history. The two are closely akin because the development of the human mind, which it is the historian's task to... see more

Drum Ecclesiastic

In June 1751 David Hume wrote to Michael Ramsay in reference to Henry Home's recent Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion. Thus early began the campaign of the religiously zealous against the two Humes, a campaign that was to come to a head in 1755 and again in 1756. Ho... see more

The Philosophes

One of the first philosophes that David Hume met at Paris, the German-born Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach, was devoting all his efforts and his great wealth to the interests of the arts and sciences. Skilled in languages, ancient and modern, and well read in modern literature, philosoph... see more

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, having found asylum in 1762 with the genial Earl Marischal Keith at Môtiers-Travers in Neuchâtel, had politely declined the invitation of David Hume to go to England. Though he had a tremendous reputation in England, Rousseau liked neither the country nor the people.... see more

Disturbers of the Peace

It was An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth; in opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism, a work that went through five editions between its first appearance in 1770 and the death of David Hume in 1776, which was chiefly responsible for disturbing the philosopher's tranquillity. ... see more

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Citations of this work

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race.Naomi Zack (ed.) - 2017 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press USA.
What Pessimism Is.Paul Prescott - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37:337-356.
Hume on Probability.Barry Gower - 1991 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42 (1):1-19.
The Absence of God and Its Contextual Significance for Hume.David Fergusson - 2013 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 11 (1):69-85.

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