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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Written by David Hume

Narrated by Gildart Jackson


An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Written by David Hume

Narrated by Gildart Jackson

ratings:
4.5/5 (13 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 30, 2011
ISBN:
9781452673509
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

Published in 1748, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is Scottish empiricist philosopher David Hume's distillation of his mature philosophy. Addressing themes including the limits of human understanding, the compatibility of free will with determinism, weaknesses in the foundations of religion, and the appeal of skepticism, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is Hume's attempt to revise and clarify the ideas of his earlier A Treatise of Human Nature. A major work in the empiricist school of thought that included John Locke and George Berkeley, Hume's work influenced such later authors as Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, and Jeremy Bentham. Controversial and widely debated since its publication, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a classic of empiricist philosophy whose questions remain as relevant today as ever.
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 30, 2011
ISBN:
9781452673509
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

David Hume was an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, historian, and essayist, and the author of A Treatise of Human Nature, considered by many to be one of the most important philosophical works ever published. Hume attended the University of Edinburgh at an early age and considered a career in law before deciding that the pursuit of knowledge was his true calling. Hume’s writings on rationalism and empiricism, free will, determinism, and the existence of God would be enormously influential on contemporaries such as Adam Smith, as well as the philosophers like Schopenhauer, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Popper, who succeeded him. Hume died in 1776.


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4.3
13 ratings / 8 Reviews
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  • (3/5)
    Beware of ProcrustesAccording to Greek mythology, Procrustes offered hospitality to passers-by with the intent to kill them. He had only one bed for all comers. To make them fit the bed, he hammered the short men till they are stretched across the length of the bed, but sawed off the portions of the long men that projected beyond it. He was eventually subdued by the hero Theseus, who forced him to fit his own bed.David Hume, the Procrustes of philosophy, demands the whole of nature and human intellectual endeavour be fitted into his limited experience and mode of understanding, and rejects everything from the Logic of Aristotle, to abstract notions such as essence, cause and effect, to theological notions of God and miracles. Stripped of all the verbiage, his arguments boil down to this: If I can't clearly conceive it, don't experience it, and don't agree with it, it must be false and not worthy of consideration.There is a Procrustes in all of us.Proponents of the so-called scientism demand that all human knowledge be fitted into their materialist mindset, and religious fanatics demand that the whole world be fitted into their interpretations of the sacred texts. The real dogma underlying religious fanaticism, however, is not the religious belief they claim to uphold, but the dogma of self-authority, that is, tyranny, which is the antithesis of the Christian notion of freedom. The real dogma underlying scientism is not exclusive reliance on science, it is the dogma of self-authority, which is the antithesis of the scientific method.The scientific method presupposes and demands a correspondence or harmony between subjective notion and objective reality. Objective reality is independent of human perspective and opinion. The principle of reproducibility is a type of democracy, for all people have equal access to truth, if they're willing to pursue it. Peer-review is a type of check and balance, a procedural but not substantive guarantee, for everyone is subject to the scrutiny of others. In short, no one can monopolize truth, and everyone is accountable.As a human and communal endeavour, science shares many similarities with religion, both the good and the bad, the sublime and the horrifying. Practitioners of science are flawed human beings just like those of religion, susceptible to all sorts of passions, including the lust for unjust power and fame. The good news is there are structures and mechanisms that can encourage accountability in both communities, accountability to the community itself and to the society at large. The bad news is accountability is a two-edged sword. We cannot demand it from others without it being demanded from ourselves.
  • (5/5)
    The first philosophy book I can give 5 stars. I wish I had this as a young teen - it would have calmed and cleared my mind considerably. For a work over 250 years old, I was pleasently surprised by the style: for the most part he was direct, a little poetic, and with a wee bit of humour to help things along. His conquest of my heart got off to good start when he suggested that a lot of philosophy and writing done up to that point had been a wasted effort, as people simply hadn't defined their words properly. How can we have a Great Conversation without making sure we are talking about the same stuff?

    He manages get an awful lot done in less than 100 pages: he clearly explains his ideas about experience, reasoning, causality, morality and religion, and unleashes the sceptic bombshell on the lot. I don't feel like he forced his ideas, but actually lays them out for full inspection, and for this he feels timeless. He admits the troubling truth that full scepticism can only lead to inaction, but that it seems to be our only reliable guide if we aim for pure truth. He ends by admirably shaking off the paradox-like bind, and happily revives common sense, restraining his scepticism to a more moderate range of enquiry thereafter - an invaluable point for a troubled, excited teen.

    This sums it up for me nicely:

    "Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries shall meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man."
  • (2/5)
    I found this very difficult reading - maybe my mind wasn't in the right philosophical state.
  • (3/5)
    Hume, if taken seriously, would have ended Darwinism before it started. Darwin loved Hume, but seemed to have missed the major thrust of this book. Darwin's daughter got it though. I do not agree with Hume's epistemology, but he develops the only possible logical conclusion in a universe that is wholly materialistic, and of men limited only to their observations, to measurement of phenomena. Reductio ad absurdum: we can conclude nothing, but the fact that we can conclude nothing. There is certainty only in uncertainty. Hume knew that knowledge rests on a circle, he simply revealed how incredibly small the circle of materialism really is.
  • (5/5)
    Fantastic book. Hume has some incredibly interesting views on the creation of identity, especially on the origin of thought. Highly recommend for those who wish to explore the question of "What is the self?"
  • (3/5)
    Not really sure how one can review a philosophical text, found it a little over complicaed for what Hume was actually trying to say, but no doubt a major epistemological work.
  • (5/5)
    One of the greatest thinkers of all time explains majestically and simply how we think and why we think the way we think. Understanding the basic concepts and workings of perception, reason, cause and effect has indeed deep ramifications when we become conscious of it.

  • (5/5)
    This is David Hume's summary of his central doctrines and themes of his empiricist philosophy. It was a revision of an earlier effort, A Treatise of Human Nature, published anonymously in London in 1739–40. Hume was disappointed with the reception of the Treatise, which "fell stillborn from the press," as he put it, and so he tried again to disseminate a more developed version of his ideas to the public by writing a shorter and more polemical work. The end product of his labours was the Enquiry which dispensed with much of the material from the Treatise, in favor of clarifying and emphasizing its most important aspects. For example, Hume's views on personal identity, do not appear. However, more vital propositions, such as Hume's argument for the role of habit in a theory of knowledge, are retained. This book has been highly influential both in the years that immediately followed up until today. Immanuel Kant pointed to it as the book which woke him from his self-described "dogmatic slumber" The Enquiry is widely regarded as a classic in modern philosophical literature in part because David Hume is one of the greatest prose stylists of the English language.