by David Hume

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now




I. Of the different Species of Philosophy
II. Of the Origin of Ideas
III. Of the Association of Ideas
IV. Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding
V. Sceptical Solution of these Doubts
VI. Of Probability
VII. Of the Idea of necessary Connexion
VIII. Of Liberty and Necessity
IX. Of the Reason of Animals
X. Of Miracles
XI. Of a particular Providence and of a future State
XII. Of the academical or sceptical Philosophy




1. Moral philosophy, or the science of human nature, may be treated
after two different manners; each of which has its peculiar merit, and
may contribute to the entertainment, instruction, and reformation of
mankind. The one considers man chiefly as born for action; and as
influenced in his measures by taste and sentiment; pursuing one object,
and avoiding another, according to the value which these objects seem to
possess, and according to the light in which they present themselves. As
virtue, of all objects, is allowed to be the most valuable, this species
of philosophers paint her in the most amiable colours; borrowing all
helps from poetry and eloquence, and treating their subject in an easy
and obvious manner, and such as is best fitted to please the
imagination, and engage the affections. They select the most striking
observations and instances from common life; place opposite characters
in a proper contrast; and alluring us into the paths of virtue by the
views of glory and happiness, direct our steps in these paths by the
soundest precepts and most illustrious examples. They make us _feel_ the
difference between vice and virtue; they excite and regulate our
sentiments; and so they can but bend our hearts to the love of probity
and true honour, they think, that they have fully attained the end of
all their labours.

2. The other species of philosophers consider man in the light of a
reasonable rather than an active being, and endeavour to form his
understanding more than cultivate his manners. They regard human nature
as a subject of speculation; and with a narrow scrutiny examine it, in
order to find those principles, which regulate our understanding, excite
our sentiments, and make us approve or blame any particular object,
action, or behaviour. They think it a reproach to all literature, that
philosophy should not yet have fixed, beyond controversy, the foundation
of morals, reasoning, and criticism; and should for ever talk of truth
and falsehood, vice and virtue, beauty and deformity, without being able
to determine the source of these distinctions. While they attempt this
arduous task, they are deterred by no difficulties; but proceeding from
particular instances to general principles, they still push on their
enquiries to principles more general, and rest not satisfied till they
arrive at those original principles, by which, in every science, all
human curiosity must be bounded. Though their speculations seem
abstract, and even unintelligible to common readers, they aim at the
approbation of the learned and the wise; and think themselves
sufficiently compensated for the labour of their whole lives, if they
can discover some hidden truths, which may contribute to the instruction
of posterity.

3. It is certain that the easy and obvious philosophy will always, with
the generality of mankind, have the preference above the accurate and
abstruse; and by many will be recommended, not only as more agreeable,
but more useful than the other. It enters more into common life; moulds
the heart and affections; and, by touching those principles which
actuate men, reforms their conduct, and brings them nearer to that model
of perfection which it describes. On the contrary, the abstruse
philosophy, being founded on a turn of mind, which cannot enter into
business and action, vanishes when the philosopher leaves the shade, and
comes into open day; nor can its principles easily retain any influence
over our conduct and behaviour. The feelings of our heart, the agitation
of our passions, the vehemence of our affections, dissipate all its
conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to a mere plebeian.

4. This also must be confessed, that the most durable, as well as
justest fame, has been acquired by the easy philosophy, and that
abstract reasoners seem hitherto to have enjoyed only a momentary
reputation, from the caprice or ignorance of their own age, but have not
been able to support their renown with more equitable posterity.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012611444
Publisher: SAP
Publication date: 05/16/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 147 KB

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews