Hume's Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals and The Whole Duty of Man

Journal of Scottish Philosophy 18 (2):117-132 (2020)
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Abstract

I examine, in this paper, the contents of one of the most famous religious texts of the early modern period, The Whole Duty of Man, and I show that Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Man is an attempt to reappropriate and replace the Anglican devotional with his own moral philosophy. Hume would reject the devotional's general methodology, its claims about the foundation of morality, and its list of duties. However, a careful reading of The Whole Duty of Man reveals that Hume shares its author's evaluation of pride and humility, and its insistence on utility and pleasure. Hume, I argue, would not think of this book as mortifying or monkish. Given the popularity of The Whole Duty of Man and Hume's desire to push religion back into the closet together with his passion for literary fame, we have good reasons to conclude that Hume was more envious than critical, and that the EPM was his own remastered version of what could be called ‘The Whole Merit of Man’.

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Esther Kroeker
University of Antwerp

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References found in this work

An enquiry concerning the principles of morals.David Hume - 1957 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 12 (4):411-411.
Hume.James Harris - 2010 - In John Skorupski (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics. New York: Routledge.
Religion and Faction in Hume's Moral Philosophy.Jennifer Herdt - 1999 - American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 20 (1):75-80.
Hume's Views on Religion: Intellectual, and Cultural Influences.Terence Penelhum - 2008 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe (ed.), A Companion to Hume. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 321–337.

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