Themes in Hume: The Self, the Will, Religion [Book Review]

Hume Studies 27 (2):337-341 (2001)
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The thirteen essays that constitute this volume clearly show that for over four decades Terence Penelhum has been among the most perceptive writers on Hume. Although he carefully spells out the historical context of Hume’s discussions in a number of these essays, Penelhum’s metier is not identifying antecedents or targets, but instead analyzing with clarity Hume’s views and revealing their interconnections and defects. In doing this, Penelhum succeeds not only in drawing out the implications of Hume’s philosophy but also in displaying its richness. As its title indicates, the work focuses on three areas in Hume’s writings: his discussion of the self and personal identity, his views on moral psychology and freedom of the will, and his treatment of religious belief. Because Penelhum’s views on these matters have not been static, one virtue of this collection is that the reader can follow the evolution of his thoughts about Hume. In particular, each of the new essays, “Hume, Identity and Selfhood”, “Hume and the Freedom of the Will”, and “Religion in the Enquiry and After”, serves both as a summary of Penelhum’s current thinking on the topic and a commentary on his previous work.



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