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David Hume

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(1711 – 1776)

David Hume (26 April 1711 – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, economist, historian and an important figure in Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Together with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others, Hume is one of the principal early philosophers of .

He first gained recognition and respect as a historian, but academic interest in Hume’s work has in recent years centred on his philosophical writing. His History of England was the standard work on English history for many years, until Macaulay’s The History of England from the Accession of James the Second.

Hume was the first philosopher of the modern era to produce a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy. This philosophy partly consisted in rejection of the historically prevalent conception of human minds as being miniature versions of the divine mind. This doctrine was associated with a trust in the powers of human reason and insight into reality; powers which purportedly possessed God’s certification. Hume’s scepticism came in his rejection of this ‘insight ideal’, and the (usually rationalistic) confidence derived from it that the world is as we represent it. Instead, the best we can do is to apply the strongest explanatory and empirical principles available to the investigation of human mental phenomena, issuing in a quasi-Newtonian project, Hume’s ‘Science of Man’.

Hume was heavily influenced by empiricists John Locke and George Berkeley, along with various French-speaking writers such as Pierre Bayle, and various figures on the English-speaking intellectual landscape such as Isaac Newton, Samuel Clarke, Francis Hutcheson, and Joseph Butler.

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