ABSTRACT The subject of this paper is the place of Hume in Nicholas Phillipson's account of the Scottish Enlightenment. I begin with Phillipson's reading of Hume as ‘civic moralist’. I then turn to his account of Hume the author of The History of England. And from there I proceed to the place of Hume in his intellectual biography of Adam Smith. I conclude with a brief description of Phillipson's understanding of Hume's place in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment as (...) it mutated in the late eighteenth century and came to an end in the early nineteenth. I show how just as Phillipson's Hume cannot be understood apart from the Scottish Enlightenment, so also Phillipson's Scottish Enlightenment cannot be understood without Hume. (shrink)
This article presents a commentary by James Steuart on David Hume’s History of the Tudors, written in the early 1760s. In doing so, the article sketches new aspects of Steuart’s political and historical thought at a time when he was hopeful about returning to Scotland from his long continental exile, following his leading role in the 1745 Jacobite rising. After providing a short biographical context, it establishes that the text was written whilst Steuart was working on his Political Oeconomy, and (...) when the ‘Marian controversy’ dominated Scottish historical debate. It goes on to explore the influence of Steuart’s friend Mary Wortley Montagu on his criticism of Hume’s misogynistic representation of Mary, Queen of Scots. It then reconstructs Steuart’s central argument about the failures of monarchs to adapt from feudal to commercial society, resulting in untrammelled liberties that harmed the lower classes. Concerned with the history of industry and commerce, political judgment, and the spirit of the people, Steuart’s hitherto unpublished commentary is a key source for understanding the ‘late Jacobite’ system of thought which influenced the reign of George III and inspired radicals later in the century. (shrink)
This essay argues that Hume's political and historical thought is well read as skeptical and skeptical in a way that roots it deeply in the Hellenistic traditions of both Pyrrhonian and Academical thought. It deploys skeptical instruments to undermine political rationalism as well as theologically and metaphysically political ideologies. Hume's is politics of opinion and appearance. It labors to oppose faction and enthusiasm and generate suspension, balance, tranquility, and moderation. Because Hume advocate the use of reflectively generated but epistemically and (...) metaphysically suspensive general rules, his political thought is not intrinsically conservative. While it valorizes stability and peace, Humean politics accepts a contested and open-ended political order, one that requires continuous maintenance and revision but does not pretend to any ultimate or final progress or end. (shrink)
Catharine Macaulay’s The History of England challenges Hume’s interpretation of the history of the Stuarts, as developed in his The History of Great Britain, and is grounded in meta-ethical, religious, and political principles that are also fundamentally opposed to those developed by Hume, as she makes clear in her Treatise on the Immutabilty of Moral Truth. Here it is argued that the contrast between them poses a problem for a number of recent accounts of the enlightenment period, and that Macaulay’s (...) work demonstrates that one path to radical politics went via an optimistic strand of intellectualist theism. Macaulay’s ‘republican’ history, which was read on both sides of the Atlantic as justifying the overthrow of arbitrary governments, was grounded in conceptions of liberty, virtue, and sincere theistic belief, similar to those of the Cambridge Platonists. By contrast, Hume’s moral and religious scepticism led naturally to the political conservatism evident in his history. This paper offers an outline of their alternative accounts of the significance of the two English revolutions, and the opposing metaphysical and meta-ethical positions that underpin those accounts. It concludes with a discussion of the contrast between their concepts of liberty and their consequent very different evaluations of the value of liberty. (shrink)
An often-ignored Humean contribution to Scottish Enlightenment is ‘conjectural history’, an eighteenth-century historical genre that attempted to trace the origins and development of particular institutions from prehistory to modernity. But conjectural methodology prevented histories from establishing any facts. What was then its point? I propose a way to justify Hume's practice of conjectural history by appealing to his scattered comments on historical explanation. Conjectural histories explain the origin of modern institutions by offering the rationale that must have caused their emergence (...) and stability and that justifies their current approbation, providing the reader with means for understanding and criticism. (shrink)
O texto a seguir, intitulado “Ensaio Histórico sobre a Cavalaria e a Honra dos Modernos”, foi escrito durante a juventude de David Hume, certamente antes da publicação do Tratado da Natureza Humana. Ainda não há consenso inabalável sobre o ano em que esse ensaio foi produzido. John Hill Burton, que o publicou pela primeira vez, em 1846, considera que Hume o teria escrito em 1727, logo após deixar o Edimburgh College. J. Y. T. Greig propõe uma conjectura um pouco mais, (...) por assim dizer, elástica, considerando que o texto deve ter sido escrito no período de 1729 a 1734. (shrink)
In the third volume of the History of England, David Hume considers the political ramifications of the Protestant reformation with a “Digression concerning the ecclesiastical state.” He advocates the establishment of a state church, believing it will dampen religious “enthusiasm” in the polity. Unlike later secularization theorists, Hume assumes an intractable basis for religion in the human passions. Tensions in Hume’s “cooptation” strategy are evident from Adam Smith’s famous attack upon it in section five of The Wealth of Nations, and (...) in Hume’s own treatment of seventeenth century independency in the fifth volume of the History. Smith argues that public competition among sects facilitates political moderation. In History V Hume stresses the positive role of enthusiasm in fostering civil liberty. This article traces Hume’s indecision to his “external” mode of moral and historical analysis, arguing that a secular policy on religion cannot proceed fruitfully without engaging the theological particulars of the religions at issue. (shrink)
Illuminates the relationship between Hume the political thinker, Hume the historian, and Hume the political economist and highlights the social, economic and institutional changes which he wove into an innovative theory of causation.
Hume's moral epistemology, focusing on the elevation of character tratis, requires what in contemporary terms is a narrative structure. The moral significance of an action can only be understood when considered in relation to an agent's past actions, beliefs, intentions, social environment and situation. Three features of Hume's writings support this claim: his accounts of moral evidence, of the object of moral evaluation, and of the value of history. Without recognizing the role of narrative, the standard view of Hume's moral (...) epistemology is incomplete. Recognizing this, Hume's History of England can be read as an exercise of moral evaluation. (shrink)
Jia Wei claims in the Introduction to Commerce and Politics in Hume's History of England that significant aspects of Hume's achievement as a historian have yet to be properly appreciated. She intends to shed new light on 'the relationship between the three Humes: Hume the political thinker, Hume the historian, and Hume the political economist'. She continues: More specifically, this book pays greater attention to broad social, economic, and institutional changes which Hume wove into an entirely innovative fabric of causation. (...) This becomes evident by examining three aspects of Hume's History: first, his championship of modernity, which he integrated into a historical narrative of England's development as a... (shrink)
James A. Harris's biography of David Hume is the first such study to appear since Ernest Mossner's The Life of David Hume (1954). Unlike Mossner, Harris aims to write a specifically "intellectual biography", one that gives "a complete picture of Hume's ideas" and "relates Hume's works to the circumstances in which they were conceived and written" (vii). Harris's study turns on four central theses or claims about the character of Hume's thought and how it is structured and developed. The claims (...) are: (1) Hume's Treatise has no claim to any sort of "privileged" status in relation to Hume's other major works -- which include his Essays and his History of England. -/- (2) There is no system, doctrine, or fundamental aims or ambitions that serve to unify Hume's thought. -/- (3) Irreligious aims and interests are not of any particular or unique importance for Hume's thought. Moreover, whatever irreligious aims and objectives Hume may have had, they reflect his moderate, neutral and detached attitude to this and all other subjects -- there is no underlying animus or hostility against religion that motivates his contributions to this subject. (4) Hume's thought should be understood and explained not in terms of his concern with some specific subject matter or body of doctrine but rather in terms of his style and his identity as a "philosophical man of letters". -/- The general picture of Hume that emerges from this study, as constructed around these four core theses, is, as I will explain, incomplete, unconvincing and, in important respects, seriously flawed and misleading. -/- . (shrink)
To balance a large state or society, whether monarchical or republican, on general laws, is a work of so great difficulty, that no human genius, however comprehensive, is able, by the mere dint of reason and reflection, to effect it.Andrew Sabl’s Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England is an impressive tribute to the Tacitus of the eighteenth century. His study offers a reading of the History of England “as if it were a treatise on this one (...) subject: how conventions of political authority arise, change, improve by various measures, and die”.1 Hume’s History, according to Sabl, is much more than a mere narrative of the gradual emergence of a stable constitutional monarchy on the English... (shrink)
Hume’s History of England has received a good deal of attention over the years, but no one has ever systematically studied his sources.1 Instead, scholars have worried about Hume’s biases, his portraits of figures like Charles I, and his alleged scorn for mere antiquarianism, which resulted in a readable but superficial history. The most exciting monograph dealing with his History of England in recent years sees it as a step in the process which led to nineteenth-century historicism. Others have seen (...) him in the context of narrativity but have paid little attention to the sources of the facts worked into that... (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a renewed scholarly interest in David Hume’s History of England (1754–1762), and this essay adds to that interest by analyzing the sources that Hume used in the History. Unfortunately, Hume did not provide a bibliography or guide to those sources, and no scholar has produced one since. We have been preparing a bibliography for publication and the following essay is a preliminary view of some of what it will show. It demonstrates that Hume consulted and used (...) more varied sources, and used them in more skillful ways, than commonly has been assumed. (shrink)
The problem of the balance of power within the European state system constituted an important part of Hume’s historical vision. From the vantage point of mid-eighteenth-century Europe, the maxim of the balance of power, proven to be a universal principle in Greek and Roman history, was believed by many to be essential to mutual prosperity and security.1 This was particularly because France, partaking actively in the international competition for commercial wealth in Europe and the New World, created increasing anxieties over (...) the danger of universal monarchy. Hume was a strong advocate of the classical doctrine of the balance of power, which, he observed, was “founded...... (shrink)
Hume was accused of partiality as soon as the first volume of his Histories reached the public. No better test can be found for whether he was partial than by looking at how he writes of Queen Elizabeth I. If his history is biased, we would expect her sex to make a difference to the history. We shall find, however, that Hume treats Elizabeth as a rational being who is a sovereign, and that he achieves, insofar as he describes her (...) reign, the general point of view appropriate to the impartiality demanded of historians. We shall also find evidence that he did not give up on his grand project to provide the foundations for ?a compleat system of the sciences? after the Treatise failed to excite a murmur. His Histories , using the method of causal analysis common to all his works, illustrate not only his moral theory but also, for instance, his claim that we can find laws in political systems as certain as those of physics. (shrink)
This paper presents a discussion of an apparent inconsistency between Hume's moral theory and his moral evaluations of historical characters in his History of England. While Hume considers enthusiasm to be a religious vice, he praises the characters of some historical enthusiasts, blames others, and regards enthusiasm as having a positive social effect. But according to Hume's moral theory, only a virtue can have positive social effect, or be praiseworthy. The paper refers to the inconsistency between the History and the (...) moral theory as the ‘enthusiasm puzzle’. The paper concludes by explaining the inconsistency as being rooted in a problem with Hume's moral theory. (shrink)
This volume collects ten essays by the distinguished historian Roger L. Emerson. Many are augmented versions of public lectures or conference papers, and all advance Emerson’s career-long study of the Scottish Enlightenment, its social foundations, and its institutional embodiments. Emerson states his case and names his rivals in the anchor piece of the collection, “What is to be Done About the Scottish Enlightenment?” The Scottish Enlightenment, he argues, was a broad-based, indigenous movement of long standing, largely independent of English models. (...) He attacks the view, which he attributes to Nicholas Phillipson (with concurrence in varying degrees from J. G. A. Pocock, John Robertson, and Richard .. (shrink)
A giant of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, David Hume was one of the most important philosophers ever to write in English. He was also a brilliant historian. In this book—a new and revised edition of his 1989 classic—Nicholas Phillipson shows how Hume freed history from religion and politics. As a philosopher, Hume sought a way of seeing the world and pursuing happiness independently of a belief in God. His groundbreaking approach applied the same outlook to Britain's history, showing how the past (...) was shaped solely through human choices and actions. In this analysis of Hume's life and works, from his university days in Edinburgh to the rapturous reception of his _History of England_, Nicholas Phillipson reveals the gradual process by which one of the greatest Western philosophers turned himself into one of the greatest historians of Britain. In doing so, he shows us how revolutionary Hume was, and why his ideas still matter today. (shrink)
Hume and the problem of theory and practice in philosophy and political theory -- Hume's naturalism and skepticism in the treatise and his appeal from theory to practice -- The systematic theory of theory of the treatise of human nature -- The behaviorist theory of practice of the treatise -- The practical philosophies of skepticism and commercial humanism -- The common sense theory of theory of the enquiries, essays, and history of England -- The common sense theory of practice of (...) the later works -- Hume, theory, and practice today. (shrink)
Contrary to most modern interpretations, in the early modern period, history was an indispensable resource for many philosophers. The different uses of history by Bacon, Gassendi, Locke, and Hume are explored to establish the role of history as a resource in early-modern philosophy.
The first half of Annette Baier's book opens up a fascinating new area of Hume scholarship. We all know that Hume wore two hats, as a philosopher and a historian. But what exactly is the relationship between his general philosophical writings and his History of England? In particular, what can his portrayals of influential monarchs and religious leaders, such as Oliver Cromwell or Bishop Tunstal, teach us about his philosophical commitments?
In “Hume and Julius Caesar,” G.E.M. Anscombe argues that some historical claims, such as “Julius Caesar was assassinated,” serve as touchstones for historical knowledge. Only Cartesian doubt can call them into question. I examine her reasons for thinking that the discipline of history must be grounded in claims that it is powerless to discredit. I argue that she is right to recognize that some historical claims are harder to dislodge than others, but wrong to contend that any are invulnerable to (...) non-Cartesian doubt. (shrink)
The world in which the Scottish Enlightenment took shape -- Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll (1682-1761) : patronage and the creation of the Scottish Enlightenment -- How many Scots were enlightened? -- What did eighteenth-century Scottish students read? -- Our excellent and never to be forgotten friend : David Hume (26 April 1711- 25 August 1776) -- Hume's intellectual development : part II, 1711-1762 -- Hume's histories -- Hume's economics -- Numbering the medics -- Numbers and money -- Who (...) were they? -- The émigrés as they appear in the American sample. (shrink)
David Hume’s ‘History of England’ is an ambitious work that helps demonstrate how the modern historian can interpret the crucial events that define human communities as continuous in time. This paper is directly concerned with the significance of Hume's historical method, his view of human agency and the role of the English Constitution in appraising the meaning of secularity in his historical work. The more fundamental purpose of the paper will be to show that the study of history was not (...) incidental to his task as a philosopher but, on the contrary, relates to his deeper view of how we experience the world in terms of fundamental categories of time and meaning. (shrink)
This chapter contains section titled: Frameworks of Interpretation The Moment of Hume's History Intelligibility and Instruction Decipherment and the History of Opinion “My View of Things” “My Representation of Persons” References Further Reading.
The paper deals with the impact of Hume’s philosophy on Kant’s philosophy of history. By comparing the views of the two philosophers the author comes to the conclusion that on some places Kant in his works on his own philosophy of history makes use of Hume’s argumentation concerning the connections between the cultivation of humans, production and trade, and the origins of political freedom, as well as the rise of the society controlled by justice and law. The author sees the (...) two thinkers as very close one to another not only in the understanding of the epistemological question, but also in contemplating the history. (shrink)
Apresentação da tradução para o português de três textos póstumos do filósofo e historiador escocês David Hume (1711-1776): os ensaios “Da imortalidade da alma” e “Do suicídio”, e a autobiografia “Minha vida”. O livro Inclui também a tradução dois relatos sobre os últimos dias de Hume: a “Carta a William Strahan”, de Adam Smith, e a “Última entrevista com David Hume”, de James Boswell. - Hume, David. Da imortalidade da alma e outros textos póstumos. Tradução: Jaimir Conte, Davi de Souza (...) e Daniel Murialdo. Ijuí:Editora Unijuí, 2006. (Coleção filosofia; 12). ISBN: 85-7429-558-2. (shrink)