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Hume lectures PHI 232

Hume lectures PHI 232

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Published by: G.T.Roche on Sep 04, 2008
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Lectures 19 and 20Slave to the Passions: David Hume’s EthicsDr. Geoffrey Roche19.1 Resources for these lectures
Secondary resources:
A.J Ayer.
 Hume: A very Short Introduction.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.David Hume “Morality as Based on Sentiment” in James Rachels and Stuart Rachels,eds.
The Right Thing to Do
Boston: McGraw Hill, 2007:65- 70.Stephen Darwall, University of Michigan. Phil 433 course:
History of Modern Ethics.
Available at:http://www-personal.umich.edu/~sdarwall/433dh1200.txt http://www-personal.umich.edu/~sdarwall/433dh200.txtWilliam Edward Morris “David Hume”
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
 Available at:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume/ James Fieser “David Hume” in
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Available at:http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/h/humelife.htm Rachel Cohon “Hume’s Moral Philosophy” in
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Available at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-moral/
Primary resources:
David Hume
Treatise of Human Nature
(1739- 1740).http://www.class.uidaho.edu/mickelsen/ToC/hume%20treatise%20ToC.htm[accessed Nov 5
2007].Or here:http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/h/hume/david/h92t/ 
19.1 Opening Questions
a). What character traits (‘virtues’) would make a person pleasing to themselves? (That is, what traitsdo you need to have to enjoy your own company?)
 b). What virtues make a person useful for themselves (that is, independent)?c). What virtues would make a person pleasing, or useful, to others?d). Is intelligence necessary and sufficient to be a good person?e). Is the Motive of Duty necessary and sufficient to be a good person?
19.2 David Hume: Biographical sketch
David Hume (1711-1776), philosopher, historian and essayist, is considered thegreatest philosopher ever to write in English. In the words of His three main philosophical works,
 A Treatise of Human Nature
(1739-1740), the
 Enquiriesconcerning Human Nature
(1748) and
Concerning the Principles of Morals
(1751)remain very influential, and had a major impact even on those who disagreed withhim (Kant, in particular). His thought inspired Jeremy Bentham to write his Utilitarianethics. He was also an influence on non- philosophers, such as his friend theeconomist Adam Smith (Hume suggesting that open markets are better for theeconomy) and the father of the theory of Evolution, Charles Darwin. Philosophersnow consider Hume to be the father of contemporary cognitive science (the study of how the mind organizes information and creates experience). Much of what we nowgenerally accept as logical principle, especially as applied to scientific and logicalanalysis, we owe to Hume. (The Naturalistic Fallacy and the Is- Ought Fallacy aretwo examples we’ve already seen).David Hume was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a precocious youth, and wassent to Edinburgh University at the age of twelve. He was supposed to study law, butinstead secretly studied the Classical authors of ancient Greece and Rome. (He had tokeep this a secret as his parents were very religious and did not approve of such paganliterature). He left university without taking his degree (you will notice that Kantalways writes of “Mr. Hume” for this reason) and spent three years thinking andwriting about philosophy. He briefly tried to hold a regular job at a sugar importcompany- he got fired because he criticized his boss’s writing style. Then he went tolive in La Flèche, France (where his small stipend was enough to get by) to studyFrench writings. There he wrote the draft for 
Treatise of Human Nature
between 1734and 1737, arguing with Jesuit priests about religion in his spare time.
3Hume saw this book published in 1739, anonymously, with the more anti-religious parts removed (“castrated,” in Hume’s words). Hume then tried to findacademic work, but no university would hire him: his thought was too controversial.He never held an academic post.Hume found teaching work in 1745 as the private tutor to the Marquess of Annandale, but the boy was insane. Eventually he found work as a librarian, whichgave him the stability, and the books, needed to write
The History of England 
, which became a best- seller. This gave him the financial stability (at the age of 43) to writemore philosophy. In 1763 Hume was made secretary to the Ambassador to France,and spent the next three years in Paris, where he frequently met the French
Diderot, D’Alembert and d’Holbach (all atheists and free-thinkers). In1766 Hume returned to England with Jean- Jacques Rousseau. Their friendshipcollapsed- Rousseau, totally paranoid, was convinced that Hume was organizing aninternational conspiracy against him.After a year working for the Government, Hume returned to Edinburgh in 1769,this time for good. One of his young female friends, Nancy Orde, one night wrote “St.David’s Street” on the wall of Hume’s home in chalk. The street still bears the name.Hume died of intestinal cancer in 1776, not before preparing his most controversialworks for publication.David Hume, 1 St. David’s Street, Edinburgh.

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