An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

by David Hume

2008, Published by Oxford University Press | 304 Pages
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Publisher Description

  • Hume’s Enquiry is one of the most important philosophical works addressing central questions of human life and knowledge, and this edition presents a reliable text with a wealth of supporting material.
  • Reprints the last, 1777, edition, containing corrections made by Hume shortly before his death.
  • Includes a comprehensive introduction by Peter Millican, editor of Hume Studies, which presents a succinct overview of the philosophical background to the work before exploring the Enquiry in detail. it explains how the Enquiry can be understood as a unified and powerful statement of Hume’s mature philosophy and is accessible to beginning students as well as of interest to specialists.
  • Explanatory Notes and Glossary help to clarify allusions and unfamiliar terminology.
  • Appendices include the Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature, a list of principal variants from the 1777 text, two short essays by Hume, excerpts from letters, Part I of the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and Hume’s short autobiography, My Own Life.

‘Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.’

Thus ends David Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, the definitive statement of the greatest philosopher in the English language. His arguments in support of reasoning from experience, and against the ‘sophistry and illusion’ of religiously inspired philosophical fantasies, caused controversy in the eighteenth century and are strikingly relevant today, when faith and science continue to clash.

The Enquiry considers the origin and processes of human thought, reaching the stark conclusion that we can have no ultimate understanding of the physical world, or indeed our own minds. In either sphere we must depend on instinctive learning from experience, recognizing our animal nature and the limits of reason. Hume’s calm and open-minded scepticism thus aims to provide a new basis for science, liberating us from the ‘superstition’ of false metaphysics and religion. His Enquiry remains one of the best introductions to the study of philosophy, and this edition places it in its historical and philosophical context.

Philosophy and Thought
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