Thursday, April 26, 2012

David Hume: philosopher, historian

David Hume
It is the birthday of Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume (1711), whose A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1777) are landmark works in the development of Western philosophy. Hume believed that all ideas come from man's impressions and memories of impressions. Passions, he wrote, rule over reason in determining human actions. Morality, he believed, is based on self interest, including the pleasure humans feel in pleasing others. These science of man theories influenced others, such as economist-philosopher Adam Smith and philosopher Immanuel Kant. In Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, he presents a conversation between three fictional characters who debate the nature of God's existence. His work influenced philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Reid and theologian Joseph Butler, among others.

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