Reviewing Annette Baier’s 1995 work Moral Prejudices in the London Review of Books, Richard Rorty predicted that her work would be read hundreds of years hence; Baier’s subsequent work has borne out such expectations, and this new book further extends her reach. Here she goes beyond her earlier work on David Hume to reflect on a topic that links his philosophy to questions of immediate relevancein particular, questions about what character is and how it shapes our lives.
Ranging widely in Hume’s works, Baier considers his views on character, desirable character traits, his treatment of historical characters, and his own character as shown not just by his cheerful deathand what he chose to read shortly before itbut also by changes in his writings, especially his repudiation of the celebrated A Treatise on Human Nature. She offers new insight into the Treatise and its relation to the works in which Hume “cast anew” the material in its three books. Her reading radically revises the received interpretation of Hume’s epistemology and, in particular, philosophy of mind.
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About the Author
Annette C. Baier was Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, Emerita, at the University of Pittsburgh. She also taught at the philosophy department of the University of Otago in New Zealand.
Table of Contents
- List of Abbreviations
- Acting in Character
- Impersonation, the Very Idea
- Hume’s Excellent Hypocrites
- Hume’s Treatment of Oliver Cromwell
- Hume and the Conformity of Bishop Tunstal
- Hume’s Deathbed Reading: A Tale of Three Letters
- Hume’s Impressions and His Other Metaphors
- The Life and Mortality of the Mind
- Hume’s Labyrinth
- A Voice, as from the Next Room
- The Energy of the Cause
- Hume’s Post-Impressionism
Part I. Easy and Obvious
Part II. More Difficult and Abstruse
- Conclusion: Hume’s Curriculum Vitae: His “Own Life,” Written by Himself
What People are Saying About This
In Death and Character, Annette Baier develops a remarkable synthesis of Hume's philosophy of the person, drawn from all his major writings. These include The History of England, which provides the inspiration for her title. Her novel interpretation of the problem Hume encountered in his account of the person in Book 1 of the Treatise and how it is played out in his later writings will inspire much debate among scholars. The book is loaded with insight into Hume's philosophy; it sparkles with wit, imagination and exasperated love of its subject.