Who was David Hume and why is he such an important figure in the history of philosophy? This series aims to make learning about the history of philosophy as easy as possible by bringing together the best videos, podcasts, and articles from across the internet and allowing you to choose the type of content that best suits your learning style. Simply choose one of following links to get started:
If you want a comprehensive overview of Hume:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Hume. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 19,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that explains why Hume is such an important figure in the history of philosophy:
“Generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers to write in English, David Hume (b. 1711, d. 1776) was also well known in his own time as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in any genre, his major philosophical works—A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–1740), the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding (1748) and concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), as well as his posthumously published Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779)—remain widely and deeply influential.
Although Hume’s more conservative contemporaries denounced his writings as works of scepticism and atheism, his influence is evident in the moral philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith. Kant reported that Hume’s work woke him from his “dogmatic slumbers” and Jeremy Bentham remarked that reading Hume “caused the scales to fall” from his eyes. Charles Darwin regarded his work as a central influence on the theory of evolution. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading him reflect both the richness of their sources and the wide range of his empiricism. Today, philosophers recognize Hume as a thoroughgoing exponent of philosophical naturalism, as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, and as the inspiration for several of the most significant types of ethical theory developed in contemporary moral philosophy. . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and and more engaging introduction:
- Read Dennis Rasmussen’s article: He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel [1100 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
If you’d like to read a short passage from a classic work of philosophy:
- Read this short passage from Hume’s ‘Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ which argues against believing in miracles [1900 words]
If you’d just like to casually browse a few quotes:
And if you’d like to learn more:
If you’d like to get more philosophy in your life, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or enter your email below to get a quote/passage from a classic work of philosophy delivered to your inbox each day. They include key passages from Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and many more. Each passage is paired with a link to a beginner friendly article, video, or podcast, so you can easily learn more about that day’s idea. The goal is to make it easier for everyone to get a little bit more philosophy into their life.