Hume: an intellectual biography [Book Review]

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4):823-832 (2017)
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This is a review article discussing James Harris’s excellent study of David Hume’s full philosophical career including his epistemology, moral philosophy, politics, economics, religion, and history. Harris argues against a common view that in his later writings Hume is merely working out and developing the ideas of his Treatise of Human Nature. He even argues that Hume’s two Enquiries are substantially new works and not mere recasting of his youthful Treatise. Harris writes that philosophy for Hume is a ‘a style of thought and of writing rather than a subject matter or body of doctrine.’. He carefully analyses Hume’s many essays, including those on economics and politics and provides the context which is needed to understand their significance. He explains how Hume modified and built his views on his reading of both contemporary and ancient authors. Each chapter provides a careful study of Hume’s writings in the context of his extant letters and manuscripts. Harris’s Intellectual Biography is recommended for anyone who wishes to understand his individual writings as well as those who seek to an overall understanding of his intellectual development.



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John Wright
Central Michigan University

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