Introduction: Hume and his intellectual legacy

Craig Taylor, Stephen Buckle

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39 Citations (Scopus)


David Hume (1711–76) is commonly regarded as the greatest of the British
philosophers, albeit more for being a destroyer than a builder. His philosophy rejects the enthronement of reason so characteristic of the western philosophical tradition, and replaces it with a naturalistic picture in which the human being is portrayed as a creature of imagination, passion and habit. Th e consequence is that we must accept some form of scepticism, such that we can be guided only by opinion, not by knowledge. This is not a form of philosophical quietism, however, since scepticism can establish standards of probability, and so have a critical edge. Th us Hume deployed his conclusions in a critique of religious arguments: most famously in his essay on miracles, but also in critical examinations of belief
in divine design and, more generally, of divine causation of the world. His political writings are cautious, but undeniably modernist; and his economic writings helped pave the way for the achievements of his younger contemporary, Adam Smith. In fact, he and Smith are commonly linked, as two of the greatest contributors to that Scottish intellectual flowering aft er the Act of Union of 1707,
now known as the Scottish Enlightenment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHume and the Enlightenment
EditorsCraig Taylor, Stephen Buckle
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315655888
ISBN (Print)9781848930841
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Hume, David, 1711-1776
  • philosophy
  • Scottish Enlightenment


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