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An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding
     

An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

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by David Hume
 

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'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

Overview

'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. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Editorial Reviews

Donald C. Ainslie University of Toronto
"David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding is a philosophical masterpiece that explores the nature of human cognition and the limits of our knowledge. This edition of the Enquiry helpfully puts the text in its historical context by presenting it alongside responses from Hume's most significant 18th-century critics: George Campbell, Thomas Reid, James Beattie, and Immanuel Kant. Lorne Falkenstein's incisive introduction and editorial comments offer readers, whether novice or expert, a sure hand as they navigate both the deceivingly straightforward text and the critics' responses."
Jacqueline Taylor University of San Francisco
"The 1758 edition of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding was the first to be grouped together with A Dissertation on the Passions, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, and The Natural History of Religion. This grouping well reflects Hume's ambition to recast his earlier Treatise on Human Nature, and brings into relief his explicit criticism of religion. In four appendices, Lorne Falkenstein has thoughtfully chosen selections by Hume's contemporaries who challenge Hume on the central topics of the Enquiry: perception and reasoning, causation, and miracles. Falkenstein adds helpful notes providing further historical context. This is an excellent edition for undergraduate and graduate courses, and will be a welcome new resource for scholars."
From the Publisher

“David Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding is a philosophical masterpiece that explores the nature of human cognition and the limits of our knowledge. This edition of the Enquiry helpfully puts the text in its historical context by presenting it alongside responses from Hume’s most significant 18th-century critics: George Campbell, Thomas Reid, James Beattie, and Immanuel Kant. Lorne Falkenstein’s incisive introduction and editorial comments offer readers, whether novice or expert, a sure hand as they navigate both the deceivingly straightforward text and the critics’ responses.” — Donald C. Ainslie, University of Toronto

“The 1758 edition of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding was the first to be grouped together with A Dissertation on the Passions, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, and The Natural History of Religion. This grouping well reflects Hume’s ambition to recast his earlier Treatise on Human Nature, and brings into relief his explicit criticism of religion. In four appendices, Lorne Falkenstein has thoughtfully chosen selections by Hume’s contemporaries who challenge Hume on the central topics of the Enquiry: perception and reasoning, causation, and miracles. Falkenstein adds helpful notes providing further historical context. This is an excellent edition for undergraduate and graduate courses, and will be a welcome new resource for scholars.” — Jacqueline Taylor, University of San Francisco

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191607363
Publisher:
OUP Oxford
Publication date:
06/14/2007
Series:
Oxford World's Classics Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
809,426
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Peter Millican is founder and director of the Leeds Electronic Text Centre and editor of the journal Hume Studies. He recently edited Reading Hume on Human Understanding (OUP, 2002).

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