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An intriguing bibliophilic adventure

The Enigma of the Treatise

The Enigma of the Treatise

An intriguing bibliophilic adventure

The anonymous, mysterious eighteenth-century pamphlet and its attribution to David Hume by virtue of the work of Keynes and Sraffa
With an Appendix containing the text of An Abstract of a Book lately Published; entituled, A Treatise of Human Nature, &c.

Gianfranco Dioguardi

Chartridge Books Oxford Hexagon House Avenue 4 Station Lane Witney Oxford OX28 4BN, UK Tel: +44(0) 1865 598888 Email: This book was originally published in Italy by Donzelli Editore under the title LEnigma Del Trattato copyright 2011 Donzelli Editore ISBN paperback: 978-1-909287-40-2 ISBN digital (pdf): 978-1-909287-41-9 ISBN digital book (epub): 978-1-909287-43-3 ISBN digital book (mobi): 978-1-909287-42-6 G. Dioguardi (English language version) 2013 The right of G. Dioguardi to be identied as author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data: a catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. This publication may not be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without the prior consent of the Publishers. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. Permissions may be sought directly from the Publishers, at the above address. The use in this publication of trade names, trademarks, service marks, and similar terms, even if they are not identied as such, is not to be taken as an expression of opinion as to whether or not they are subject to proprietary rights. The Publishers are not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this publication. The authors, editors, contributors and Publishers have attempted to trace the copyright holders if permission to publish in this form has not been obtained. If any copyright material has not been acknowledged, please write and let us know so we may rectify in any future reprint. Any screenshots in this publication are the copyright of the website owner(s), unless indicated otherwise. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty The Publishers, author(s), editor(s) and contributor(s) make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this publication and specically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties for tness of a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. The publication is sold with the understanding that the Publishers are not rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If professional assistance is required , the services of a competent professional person should be sought. No responsibility is assumed by the Publishers, author(s), editor(s) or contributor(s) for any loss of prot or any other commercial damages, injury, and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of product liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein. The fact that an organisation or website is referred to in this publication as a citation and/or potential source of further information does not mean that the Publishers or the author(s), editor(s) and contributor(s) endorse the information the organisation or website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that internet websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this publication was written and when it is read. Typeset by Domex e-Data Pvt. Ltd., India Printed in the UK and USA English language translation by Rachel Costa


1 A few opening remarks 2 Prelude 3 The quirks of chance 4 The protagonists of an unusual adventure 5 An intricate and intriguing story 6 Lo and behold, other copies of the Abstract materialize 7 The investigation performed by Keynes and Sraffa 8 Revisiting the Introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa 9 A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship of the Abstract Notes and References Appendix

1 7 9 15 25 29 31 35 41 49 53

About the author

Gianfranco Dioguardi is a former Full Professor of the Politecnico University of Bari (Italy), where he taught economics and business organisation. He is the author of numerous articles and books (published in Italy, France, English-speaking countries and Germany) on management organisation and entrepreneurship. He has also cultivated a lifelong interest in the world of ideas in the broad sense, with particular reference to history, philosophy, science and bibliophily. In this context he has published important essays on the eighteenth century the Century of Enlightenment and recently, in 2010, a book entitled Network Enterprises, which came out in English, as part of the Springer Innovation, Technology and Knowledge Management series. He has received several decorations: a gold medal bestowed on him by the President of the Italian Republic in 1996 upon the proposal of the Minister of Education, for meritorious achievement in Education, Culture and Art, and in 2001 upon nomination by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific and Technological Research, for outstanding merit in Science and Culture; in 1989 he was awarded the Order of Merit for Labour, becoming Cavaliere del Lavoro of the Italian Republic, and in 2004 he was dignified with the title of Chevalier de la Lgion dHonneur of the French Republic.

A few opening remarks

It was certainly the magical intellectual atmosphere pervading the halls of the University of Cambridge that made this story possible. Its main protagonists John Maynard Keynes (Cambridge, 5 June 1883 Tilton, 21 April 1946) and Piero Sraffa (Turin, 5 August 1898 Cambridge, 3 September 1983) spent the most significant years of their lives in Cambridge, enjoying the pleasure of this delightful centuries-old town in the United Kingdom, where the joys of the human dimension still endure. Cambridge has scarcely more than a hundred thousand inhabitants and it was not until 1951 that it was granted the status of city, a standing the town had previously been denied as it lacked the appropriate prerequisite, namely a cathedral. But its origins date back many centuries, to the first century AD, when the Roman legions established a military encampment in the area. The very special atmosphere that permeates this small university town is certainly to some extent a legacy of its strikingly variegated history, which featured Saxons, Vikings, Normans and assorted other peoples among its protagonists. But Cambridge also owes much of its charm to the parks and gardens that surround it, and to the river that gave the city its name, the Cam. Also known as the Granta, the river is a veritable magnet for boaters, and indeed is the venue of celebrated regattas. Considerable interest also focuses on the Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge, one of the largest in Britain, devoted to the figurative and

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applied arts. Here visitors can also admire the portraits of many of the well-known names that have contributed to the glory of the citys illustrious University. Naturally, Cambridge is indeed famous preeminently for its University and the Colleges of which the University is composed. One of the most remarkable aspects of Collegiate life is that students and professors dwell under the same roof and thus have the opportunity to establish a constructive social relationship; these special circumstances also allow students to benefit from distinctive small-group teaching sessions (known as tutorials), a model considered as one of the best educational experiences in the world. Today the scientific knowledge that radiates from this academic institution has led to the birth of high-tech enterprises which have sprung up around the city, giving rise to an important technology park and an associated industrial area that is at the forefront of the most advanced technological development. The protagonists of our story Keynes and Sraffa were amongst those who over the centuries have been able to savor the powerful intellectual attraction of the University of Cambridge, where the heady blend of cultural stimulation and lively exchange of ideas creates a truly unsurpassed ambience. This unique world of learning is the heritage of an equally outstanding pattern of historical events. The University is one of the oldest in the world: founded in 1209 by a handful of students who had fled from Oxford, it was granted the status of university by Henry III in 1231. Its history is recounted in four dense volumes published by Cambridge University Press (A History of the University of Cambridge). The first, drawn up by Damian Riehl Leader, concerns the birth of the University and the period up to 1546; the second, by Victor Morgan, revisits the issues centering around Cambridge from 1546 to 1750; the third, of which the author is Peter Searby, describes the Universitys activities up to 1870; and the final volume, by Christopher N. L. Brooke, examines the period from 1870 to 1990. In his Preface, Brooke writes: It might be said, with some exaggeration, that in 1870 the University of Cambridge was a provincial seminary; in 1990 it is a major academy of international repute. [] The reputation of Cambridge today, furthermore, owes much to its history: it learned the art of attracting talent from every corner of the globe. (1.1).

A few opening remarks

A book that offers an overview of this fascinating evolution was published, again under the auspices of Cambridge University Press, in 1996, entitled A Concise History of the University of Cambridge. Its author, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, mentions, among other ancient testimonies, a remarkable document that can be considered as the [] earliest recorded statutes of the university, preserved in a manuscript in the Angelica Library in Rome, dating from circa 1250. (1.2). Leedham-Green also provides an account of how studies were conducted in the thirteenth century: The liberal arts course was traditionally conceived as consisting of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric and logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy) with the three philosophies (moral, natural and metaphysical): a scheme that can be traced back to late antiquity. (1.3). Her book also notes the presence of French and Italian scholars who were active in Cambridge at various times, above all in the eighteenth century. Cambridge University as an institution is composed of a federation of Colleges, age-old establishments that are alive with the spirit passed down by generations of eminent figures who lived within their walls and who illuminated the precincts of this matrix of outstanding minds. The Colleges are rich in history and longstanding tradition, but there are also a number that have been founded in more recent times: indeed, new colleges continue to be set up, testifying to the dynamism and vitality of this university institution. The first, in order of time, was Peterhouse, founded in 1284; Trinity College, founded at the behest of Henry VIII in 1546, is the largest and boasts a splendid library certainly one of the most magnificent book repositories in the whole of Britain which was built by Christopher Wren between 1676 and 1690; Kings College, of which the first stone was laid by Henry VI on 2 April 1441 is renowned for its marvelous late Gothic Chapel (14461515), with the spectacular stained glass windows dating from between 1513 and 1531. Overall, Cambridge University is made up of more than thirty Colleges, one of the most recent of which is Robinson College, constructed in 1977 but not approved as a Foundation until 1985.

The Enigma of the Treatise

In this atmosphere of past times almost every stone, every corner, is steeped in history and antiquity. Cambridge University Press undoubtedly one of the most important university publishers in the world is no exception: it was established in 1534, the year it was granted a printing license. Yet this University and its College institutions have always succeeded in combining profound respect for tradition with a spirit projected decidedly towards the future. Cambridge is also well-known for the innumerable sometimes secretive associations or learned circles where cultural activities often gave rise, and frequently still do, to intellectually mesmerizing dialectical wrangles. Though at times sharp and uncompromising, these verbal sparring matches are always inspired by a thrust towards pioneering innovations, especially in the world of science and above all in the world-famous Cavendish Laboratory. Strolling among the ancient quadrangles and in the shade of immemorial trees, ones thoughts cannot but turn to the acclaimed scholars of the past whose lives were touched by this revered setting. Erasmus of Rotterdam taught here from 1511 after a first visit to Britain in 1499. Other notable figures whose paths brought them into contact with Cambridge include Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell and, more recently, Stephen Hawking. Cambridges first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1904, to Lord Rayleigh and Lord Rutherford, and in 1906 to J. J. Thomson, all of them for physics. Over the years these were followed by awards in a wide variety of disciplines: some eighty Nobel Prize Winners have studied, taught or had some sort of link with the University of Cambridge! Significantly, it was here, in 1950, that Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA, and Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein engaged in passionate philosophical speculations. Among the foremost Cambridge economists, the names of Robert Malthus and Alfred Marshall can certainly not be omitted, together with those of other eminent scholars such as John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa. Let us cast our eyes over a couple of explicit assessments of the Cambridge School of Economics. John Maynard Keynes, in his Essays in Biography, stated: I have long claimed Robert Malthus as the first of the Cambridge economists (1.4).

A few opening remarks

Keynes later went on to say that Thus in a formal sense Marshall was the Founder of the Cambridge School of Economics [] It is through his pupils, even more than his writings, that Marshall is the father of Economic Science as it exists in England today. (1.5). Moreover, it was none other than Keynes himself who persuaded Sraffa to move to Cambridge in 1927, securing for him a teaching position, a task which, however, the Italian scholar carried out with considerable difficulty due his self-effacing disposition and dislike of public speaking. Precisely for this reason, it was again John Maynard Keynes who in 1935 entrusted him with a special appointment as director of research in economics. In this framework Sraffa was commissioned to explore, collect and arrange the publication of the complete works of David Ricardo, a task on which Sraffa worked between 1951 and 1973, also drawing up an extensive critical apparatus on the subject. Finally, it was once more through the good offices of Keynes that in 1930 Sraffa also obtained an appointment as librarian of the Marshall Library of Cambridge, a post he maintained until 1973. Sraffas friendship with Keynes had begun a few years earlier, in 1921, when the British economist asked him to write an article for the Manchester Guardian Commercial, although in the end Keynes opted in favor of publishing it in the Economic Journal, in 1922. This change of mind was prompted by the realization that Sraffas paper had a predominantly scientific character and was thus not entirely suitable as a popularization. Sraffa subsequently composed a similar albeit more readable text, Reconstruction in Europe, which was published on 7 December 1922 in The Guardian. A few years later Sraffa published the Italian translation of Keynes essay Tract on Monetary Reform, with the title La riforma monetaria. In 1929 Sraffa met Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951), who had just been invited to come to Cambridge by Bertrand Russell, the latter having been instrumental in arranging the publication of the celebrated Tractatus Logico Philosophicus in Britain in 1922. Both Keynes and Sraffa maintained intense intellectual relations with the Austrian philosopher, as well as feelings of profound friendship and respect. In his one and only, but seminal and enormously influential book entitled Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities,

The Enigma of the Treatise

Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory, published simultaneously in 1960 in Cambridge (Cambridge Press 1960) and in Turin (Produzione di Merci a Mezzo di Merci Premessa a una Critica della Teoria Economica, Einaudi: Turin 1960), Sraffa made explicit mention of Lord Keynes in the Preface, thanking him for his critical reading of a draft of the opening propositions, reserving other acknowledgements only for three mathematicians who were his colleagues, Frank Ramsey, Alister Watson, and A. S. Besicovitch. Sraffa enjoyed an intense and highly fertile exchange of ideas with Keynes, often making suggestions or offering critical readings on his manuscript of Treatise on Money. Yet Sraffas name does not appear in the acknowledgements contained in the preface to the English economists work, a fact that has led to some doubt concerning the strength of the esteem and friendship that had become consolidated between the two scholars. An explanation is provided by the Keynesian scholar Luigi Pasinetti: in the first proofs Keynes did express his thanks to F. P. Ramsey, Piero Sraffa and R. F. Khan, while in the published version the names of Sraffa and Ramsey were excluded, and this is to be ascribed to the intrinsically retiring nature of the Turin economist, who insisted that his name should not appear. The same was to occur for the subsequent publication of the legendary General Theory, Keynes most important work. But perhaps these very facts testify to the existence of a true and profound friendship between the two personalities, to the point of transcending professional conventions. It is interesting to note, in this connection, that Keynes would often wander around antique shops together with Sraffa on Saturday afternoons, in search of curios or hunting for rare books much prized by bibliophiles. And a further indication of their friendly interaction is given by Roy Forbes Harrod one of the most important biographers of Keynes who, in his work The life of John Maynard Keynes, specifically includes a mention of Sraffa in the Preface, together with other figures, expressing his appreciation of the assistance Sraffa had given him as a leading authority on the life of Keynes for the period 19301940.


The setting is London in the year 1740. A small pamphlet was published anonymously, bearing the following frontispiece: AN ABSTRACT OF A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740. & c. / wherein / The CHIEF ARGUMENT of that / BOOK is farther ILLUSTRATED and / EXPLAINED. The frontispiece was followed by a frieze and then continued with the wording: Printed for C. BORBET, at Addisons Head, / over-against St. Dunstans Church, in Fleet- / Street. 1740. / [Price Six Pence.] We at once encounter the first mystery, concerning the name of the publisher, indicated as C. Borbet, which was perhaps a printing mistake, since no such figure can be traced in the records pertaining to Fleet Street. On the other hand, a bookseller by the name of Charles Corbet is known to have been active at Addisons Head, and we are told that he became a baronet on the death of his kinsman Sir Richard Corbet in 1744. For almost two hundred years the small pamphlet remained shrouded from public view. Then, a few copies surfaced in the twentieth century, and in 1938 it was integrally reprinted by Cambridge University Press with an introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa. (2.1). The investigation into who was genuinely the author of the Abstract gave rise to an intriguing bibliophilic investigation which is certainly worth narrating here.

The quirks of chance

It was chance that led me to take an interest in this topic. On one splendid September morning in 2010, when the still warm rays of the sun evoked the summer season that lingered in memory, I was browsing through a bookshop in the center of Milan on a quest for new reading material, when I happened to put my hands on a book that straightaway aroused my curiosity. I immediately picked it up and read it with passionate interest. An intellectually captivating book Keynes e i Keynesiani di Cambridge, which appeared in Italy after the original English edition, was published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press, Keynes and The Cambridge Keynesians. A Revolution in Economics to be accomplished (3.1). The essay was written by Luigi L. Pasinetti for many years professor at Kings College, Cambridge; Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of Milan; a member of the Accademia dei Lincei; and an ardent Keynesian. In this work Pasinetti reflects on the innovative ideas of the great British economist, outlining a path that had engaged Keynes colleagues and those who later took up the baton and who continued to devote themselves to elaborating on his teachings. The outcome of their endeavors forged a Keynesian revolution which succeeded halfway, becoming consolidated from the point of view of economic policy but not on the theoretical level, and thus a revolution still unfulfilled (3.2). Pasinettis essay is particularly concerned with precisely this aspect: not by chance does the half-title draw attention to the concept of A Revolution in Economics to be accomplished.


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The work is composed of three distinct parts which Pasinetti calls books. Book One describes how Keynes reached the radical decision to break with orthodoxy, and the book includes two Caff lectures, which Pasinetti dedicated to Federico Caff, the economist who was born in 1914 and who mysteriously disappeared on the morning of April 15 1987. Federico Caff, a native of the Region of Abruzzo, where he was born in Pescara in 1914 and whose life may have come to an end in 1987, was one of the major champions of Keynesian doctrines in Italy; the central focus of his work was his deeply felt awareness of the need to assure elevated levels of employment and social protection for the population, especially for its weaker elements. A graduate of the La Sapienza University in Rome, Caff worked for the Bank of Italy and subsequently held professorships at the Universities of Messina and Bologna, eventually returning to his Alma Mater in Rome. Caffs rich scholarly production included significant works such as Teorie e problemi di politica sociale (1970) [Theories and problems of social policy]; Lezioni di politica economica (1978) [Lectures on economic policy]; In difensa del welfare state (1986) [In defence of the welfare state]; and numerous others. His mysterious disappearance from his home in the Rome district of Monte Mario still awaits a solution: some have surmised it may have been due to financial hardship for which in effect there is no evidence while others have suggested that he was particularly distressed by retirement from his teaching career, since teaching was his greatest passion. A number of important institutions have been dedicated to the memory of his name, such as the Faculty of Economics of the University of Rome Three. The first of the two above mentioned Caff lectures by Pasinetti focuses on the celebrated Cambridge Circus, the cultural fellowship that had sprung up as an offshoot of the London Bloomsbury Circle, headed by Richard Khan and enlivened by the contributions, among others, of Joan Robinson, Austin Robinson and Piero Sraffa. The formation of this noted group dates from the end of 1930, when its members gathered precisely in order to discuss the new ideas Keynes put forward in his revolutionary work, published in October of that very year, namely the Theory of Money. Starting out from this text

The quirks of chance


and from the critical reviews he had received in particular the severe revisions proposed by Piero Sraffa in 1934, Keynes eventually decided on the final title The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money of this most important book, the one which, published in February 1936, was to consolidate his reputation and growing fame. The choice of this title was in fact the outcome of an agonizing process: suffice it to consider the sequence of different headings given to the work as the years went by: at first, in 1932, The Monetary Theory of Production, then in the autumn of 1933 Monetary Theory of Employment, then in December of the same year The General Theory of Employment. In this work Keynes addresses the problem of unemployment and of intervention by the State which he viewed as desirable aimed at achieving full employment of resources. He dwells above all on a []monetary production economy to search for the place to lay the foundation of a comprehensive production paradigm. (3.3). That is to say, he seeks to define a veritable monetary theory of production. Pasinetti, endeavoring to delineate the effects of the Keynesian theory, focuses his attention on the concept of paradigm, introduced by Thomas Kuhn in 1970, and describes it as highly appropriate for a characterization of the revolution that featured John Maynard Keynes as its protagonist. Pasinetti then goes on to examine the way this revolution evolved after the era of Keynes. Thus in the next lecture he discusses the philosophy that lay at the root of the Cambridge School of Economics, a topic he resumes in the second book, where he closely follows Keynes teaching in alternating strictly scientific activity with literary interludes. For instance, Pasinetti was the author of Essays in Biography (in Italy, Politici ed economisti, Einaudi 1974), in which he composed a series of portraits and lives of important figures from the world of politics, economics and science. It should also be recalled that Keynes wrote an essay with the title Newton, the Man, where he defines the scientist as the last of the magicians destined to become the first of the age of reason:


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He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago. [] In these mixed and extraordinary studies, with one foot in the Middle Ages and one foot treading a path for modern science, Newton spent the first phase of his life, the period of life in Trinity when he did all his real work. (3.4). Pasinettis work, modeled on the Keynesian antecedent, also outlines the biographic and bibliographic references of the major figures of the Keynesian School of Cambridge, mentioning, among others, such names as Richard Khan, Joan Robinson, Nicholas Kaldor, Richard Goodwin, and highlighting in particular the figure of Piero Sraffa. But it was at this very point that Chance once again came into play. In connection with Sraffa, Pasinetti makes a brief but rather thought-provoking mention of an unusual event although it was actually well known to the cognoscenti which he then takes up again in an equally captivating note. It was a reference to the one and only work published with the joint signature Keynes-Sraffa: namely an introduction of a bibliophilic nature for a short pamphlet that had been published anonymously in 1740, whose authorship the two economists attributed to David Hume. So here we are immediately plunged into an intriguing historical-literary case, which is of importance in that it is the only written text published and signed by both authors. The final book of Pasinettis work is devoted to the later developments of Keynesian theories. Entitled Verso un paradigma della produzione per una economia in espansione [Towards a paradigm of production for an expanding economy], it analyzes the incompatibility between the Keynesian and the neoclassical approach to economics. It also proposes an interesting history of economic analysis, where the trade phase preceded the industrial phase, the latter having manifested itself more slowly. The discussion touches on the static concept of commerce based on trade exchanges, where rationality problems emerge, while industry shows

The quirks of chance


a predominance of a dynamic concept that implies a learning process varying over time. Thus there is a transition from [] the model of pure exchange, [] the neoclassical scheme of general economic equilibrium [] to the model of pure production, of which the Physiocrats first, then the Classics, and lately the streams of thought which have been inspired by Keynes and Schumpeter represent the most obvious expression. (3.5).

The protagonists of an unusual adventure

Pasinetti relates that John Maynard Keynes (18831946) [] died in April 1946. But he had withdrawn from the front line of theoretical debates much earlier practically since he suffered that heart attack (1937) which permanently crippled his ability for normal work. (4.1). Thus in his later years Keynes concentrated his activity exclusively on the task as economic adviser to the Treasury of the British government. He had lived a rich and varied life. The son of the Cambridge economist John Neville Keynes, John Maynard Keynes was educated at Eton, the prestigious and exclusive independent school. In 1902, having obtained a scholarship in mathematics and classical studies, he went up to Kings College, Cambridge, where he obtained a First (first-class degree) in mathematics. In the spring of 1909 he became a Fellow of the august College, a position he maintained throughout his life, to which was added his appointment as bursar after the First World War. He took an active part in the life of the College, where he was also a member of the Council, the organ of governance that met in session every week. At Kings he was a pupil of Alfred Marshall, the great economist who had been a friend of his father; he subsequently was also a follower of Arthur Cecil Pigou, Marshals favorite pupil. But it was above all by virtue of the pervasive spirit of the university, the special atmosphere which molded the residents


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collective and private lifestyles, that Keynes outlook on life blossomed into the mature perspective of an enlightened economist. Keynes held a number of government posts (initially at the India Office and then in the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance). From 1912 at the age of twenty-nine he was the editorin-chief of the Economic Journal, the main academic journal of the time. Although he had not obtained a degree in Economics, in 1920 he was appointed to the Chair of Economics at the University of Cambridge at the age of thirty-seven. Throughout his life he followed a sober and regular routine, spending the days from Friday to Tuesday in Cambridge, where he would hold lectures on monetary themes, and then the rest of the week in London. His vacations were spent on his farm in Tilton. In 1937 he suffered a severe heart attack, which substantially impaired his daily activities. Despite this, in 1940 he became a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of England, and in 1944 he took part in the Bretton Woods Conference (USA, 1 22 July 1944), as the head of the British delegation. Held in the small New Hampshire city after which it was named, the Bretton Woods Conference was attended by 730 delegates from 44 allied nations, who met to discuss new commercial and financial rules in postwar relations among the worlds major countries. In the framework of the Bretton Woods Agreement, two important institutions were set up, The International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, both of which became operative in 1946. During the work leading up to the Agreement, discussion focused substantially on two main projects: one put forward by the USA delegate Harry Dexter White, and the other proposed by John Maynard Keynes. It was the White proposal that was approved, and with it the founding of the IMF and the World Bank, as well as the establishment of the US dollar as the reference currency in fixed exchange relations among the currencies which were pegged to the dollar, the latter being backed by the Gold Standard. A word on his personal life is also of interest. In 1918 Keynes had met the Russian dancer Lydia Lopokova, and fell in love with her in spite of his homosexual tendencies. They married on 4 August 1925 after Lydia had obtained a divorce from her previous marriage, and

The protagonists of an unusual adventure


their marriage remained happy throughout Keynes life. This notwithstanding, he spent many weekends alone in Cambridge, leading a quasi-bachelor existence, immersing himself in College life. Not until 1937 did he buy a small apartment where he finally moved in permanently with his wife Lydia. His writings include innumerable treatises, such as the 1913 work on Indian currency and finance, the 1919 publication The economic consequence of peace, and the 1922 essay A revision of the Treaty in which he discussed the consequences of the harsh sanctions imposed on Germany by the countries that had emerged victorious from the war. 1923 saw the publication of A Tract on Monetary Reform, where there appears the unforgettable statement In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again. (4.2). The research themes that were of interest to Keynes who never took a degree in economics were oriented first and foremost towards mathematics; in fact it was this propensity which also led him in 1921 to publish a Treatise on Probability, i.e. a work which did not deal strictly speaking with economics. Here Keynes addressed the problem of induction, for which the methodologies were basically laid down, above all in the work which will be the focus of attention further on in this book. 24 October 1930 marked the date of the publication of the two volumes of A Treatise on Money, followed on 4 February 1936, when Keynes was fifty-three years old, by his most important work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. Between these two dates, 1931 saw the publication of the Essays in persuasion, and in 1933, he published Essays in Biography, a collection of essays containing the biographies of politicians (among whom was Winston Churchill); economists such as Malthus, Jevons, Marshall and numerous others; as well as two scientists, Newton and Einstein. All his most important works were published by Macmillan in London. A keen participant in cultural groups, Keynes took an interest in such associations as the Bloomsbury group in London and the exclusive group at the university of Cambridge known as The Society, aka The Apostles, which drew most of its members from


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St Johns, Kings and Trinity Colleges. Founded in 1820, it was highly secretive yet alive with the verve of young Cambridge intellectuals of the caliber of Leonard Wolf and Lytton Strachey, with whom Keynes entertained very friendly relations. Woolf (Leonard Sidney Woolf, 18801969), a politician, author and publisher, had won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1899, and in 1912 he married Adeline Virginia Stephen, who thus became the celebrated Virginia Woolf. Both of these remarkable figures formed part of the Bloomsbury Group, which also included various other authors who belonged to the Apostles. As mentioned, Giles Lytton Strachey (18801932) was among them: a flamboyant British writer, as well as a witty biographer and literary critic, he too had obtained admission to Trinity College in 1899. In 1921 Strachey was honored with a special decoration for his highly acclaimed biography of Queen Victoria. Another very active debating forum consisted of the Monday Lectures. Keynes himself was the driving force behind these meetings, where discussion revolved around topics of philosophy, economics and sundry cultural issues. Indeed, in 1909 he even founded his own cultural circle, the Political Economy Club known as the Keynes Club. Keynes was also, from his early student days onwards, a refined connoisseur of art and a passionate bibliophile. He became an eager collector of antique and rare books that he would purchase both at public auctions and at antiquarian bookshops. Over time, he not only acquired an important store of Elizabethan books, but he also built up a valuable collection of rare editions and a substantial group of papers of Isaac Newton, written in Newtons own hand. It was said at the time that this was probably the most magnificent collection of Newtons papers ever put together by a private collector. After this panorama testifying to Keynes rich and cultivated circle of acquaintances, let us return to the second protagonist of the unusual bibliophilic episode related here, Piero Sraffa. Piero Sraffa (18981983) was born in Turin and died at the age of eighty-five in Cambridge, England, the city to which he had moved in 1927: He had left Italy and had come to Cambridge, as an invited guest (and protg) of John Maynard Keynes. (4.3).

The protagonists of an unusual adventure


In England, he became rather more than a mere migr: his acquaintance with Keynes marked the starting point of Sraffas steadfast allegiance to his adopted country, yet [] Piero Sraffa remained nevertheless an Italian in England, always keeping his Italian citizenship. (4.4). Sraffa had first met Keynes in the summer of 1921. Their meeting was facilitated by a letter of introduction Sraffa brought with him, written by Salvemini; additionally, Sraffa was introduced by Mary Berenson, the wife of the art critic Bernhard Berenson, whom Keynes had met and become acquainted with during a journey to Italy. Upon a request from Keynes, Sraffa wrote an article for the Economic Journal, and translated into Italian (with the Italian title La Riforma Monetaria) the book by the already renowned British economist, A Tract on Monetary Reform. Earlier, Sraffa had been a pupil of Luigi Einaudi, and between April 1921 and June 1922 he spent a period of study at the London School of Economics. Sraffa then obtained a teaching appointment as a lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Perugia in 1923, and subsequently in 1926 he became full professor at the University of Cagliari, again in Political Economy. In Cambridge he was at first entrusted with a teaching appointment in Economics, but on account of his well-known aversion to teaching and public speaking he was given the position of director of research in Economics, an appointment purposely devised by Keynes himself. Sraffa was the author of numerous articles, which earned him the high esteem of the international community of economists. In 1926 an article which had already been published in Italy appeared in the Economic Journal, entitled The Laws of Returns under Competitive Conditions. It met with a favourable reception both from Keynes and from Edgeworth, who were the editors of the journal at the time. Then in 1960, a work by Sraffa was published simultaneously in Italy (in Turin) and in Britain (in Cambridge), namely his one and only book-length publication, a slim book destined to achieve outstanding fame, as mentioned earlier (Ch. 1): Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. Prelude to a Critique to Economic Theory Produzione di merci a mezzo di merci. Premesse a una Critica della Teoria Economica. In its pages attention focuses on production rather than on the demand for products and for


The Enigma of the Treatise

production factors, underlining that these come into play within a circular process in which the firm avails itself of other firms to achieve its own production objectives. Sraffa also demonstrated in his book that it is impossible to determine wages and the profit rate simultaneously and to measure capital without having first determined prices and profit. The University of Cambridge entrusted Sraffa with the critical edition of the Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, a work which he published in ten volumes together with Maurice Dobb over the period from 1951 to 1955. This Introduction to David Ricardo proved to be exemplary both from an economic point of view and also with regard to its critical appraisal of the issues involved; it was completed by the creation of an important apparatus of indexes, which came out in 1973. No mention of the British economist David Ricardo (17721823) would be complete without the specification that he was one of the greatest exponents of the so-called classical school. He made an in-depth study of the rate of profit, on which he wrote a detailed paper that he later extended into his major work, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (which came out in three successive editions in 1817, 1819 and 1821). This treatise effectively embodies the foundation of a general theory of value, holding that the relation between goods traded is determined by the quantity of labor required to produce these goods. Ricardo is also known for his theory of wages in some respects similar to that of Adam Smith where the demand for labour is taken to mean the number of productive workers employed in the economy, whereas the corresponding supply is represented by the extent of the population fit to work. Sraffas own works were later analyzed in depth, in particular by Alessandro Roncaglia, one of the Sraffa scholars who has conducted an intense appraisal of the Italian economists work. Particularly noteworthy is Roncaglias essay entitled Sraffa la biografia, lopera, le scuole [Sraffa: the Biography, his Work, the Schools], in which he gives the following appreciation of Sraffas Ricardian edition: Sraffas work devoted to the critical edition of the writings of Ricardo (Ricardo, 195155) began in 1930 and continued for

The protagonists of an unusual adventure


over a quarter of a century, intersecting with his work on Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities. Sraffas legendary philological rigor is not pursued as an end in itself, but as a conscious tool forming part of a debate on the very foundations of political economy. (4.5). And Keynes himself, in Essays in Biography, propos of Robert Malthus, recalled: But Mr. Piero Sraffa, from whom nothing is hid, has discovered the missing letters [sent by Ricardo to Malthus] in his research for the forthcoming complete and definitive edition of the Works of David Ricardo, which he is preparing for the Royal Economic Society [] I must not, however, further anticipate the importance of the forthcoming publication by Mr. Piero Sraffa, to whose generosity I owe the opportunity of making these excerpts, except to show Malthuss complete comprehension of the effects of excessive saving on output via its effects on profit. (4.6). Sraffa, who was delighted at the opportunity to make an in-depth study of Ricardos work, was himself a keen bibliophile and certainly had no intention of forgoing a chance to hunt for sources that were hard to track down. As Pasinetti wrote: He loved collecting first editions of rare books, especially by eighteenth century economists and philosophers. He did this, sometimes in competition with, and sometimes jointly with, two of his dearest friends: Raffaele Mattioli and John Maynard Keynes. (4.7). Raffaele Mattioli (18951972) was the legendary and maverick President of the Banca Commerciale Italiana, to which he had first been introduced through the good offices of a friend of his, Giuseppe Toeplitz, the then Managing Director; Mattioli later succeeded Toeplitz in this position in 1933, subsequently becoming President of the bank in 1960. A friend of Benedetto Croce, a follower of Keynes, and a strong believer in the secular status of the institutions still close to the Vatican he was invited by Father Gemelli in 1939 to take up a teaching appointment at the Catholic University of Milan during the Fascist period Mattioli transformed the Bank into a half-secret confraternity, through which intellectuals and


The Enigma of the Treatise

members of the anti-fascist elite were able to hold confidential gatherings. It clearly emerges from Pasinettis book that Sraffa was on friendly relations with a number of significant figures from the world of culture, not merely with Mattioli but also with Antonio Gramsci and Ludwig Wittgenstein. His exchange of ideas with Gramsci in particular reveals an intense communion of ideas, which even led Sraffa to become sympathetic to the idea of Communism. David Hume (17111776), the object of the investigations undertaken jointly by Keynes and Sraffa, was born in Edinburgh, and was thus a Scotsman like Adam Smith (17231790), of whom Hume was a contemporary and a friend. Humes thought was based on truth, and more precisely, on the truth of the empirical, of sentiment, of intuition, according to the appraisal by the Italian scholar Galvano della Volpe; and proposed again by the philosopher Guido De Ruggero in his important historical work Storia della filosofia [The History of Philosophy] (4.8). Hume is recognized as one of the leading figures of the British Enlightenment, and more specifically of the school of empiricism: indeed the above-mentioned della Volpe wrote an essay to which he gave a significant title: Hume o il genio dellempirismo [Hume or the Genius of Empiricism](Sansoni, Florence 1939). But despite the success he attained with his literary essays on morals and political economy, as well as the books he wrote on the history of England, Hume was never awarded the University Chair of Ethics and Logic which he ardently aspired to achieve, and for which he submitted two applications in 1745 and 1751. On both occasions his request was rejected, on account of the unremitting hostility of the local clergy and ecclesiastic circles, who saw the content of his works as embodying concepts incompatible with the religious beliefs of the day. Still at a very young age, when he was scarcely more than twenty years old, Hume wrote A Treatise of Human Nature, which he published in three volumes, the first two (Of the Understanding and Of the Passions) through the publisher John Noon in January 1739 and the third (Of Morals) in 1740 through T. Longman, again in London. The Treatise follows Newtons experimental method in

The protagonists of an unusual adventure


which the science of man is conceived as a continuation of the physical science of nature. Hume expected to be rewarded with acclaim and glory as a result of this work, but on the contrary, the Treatise was received with total indifference. It sold no more than a handful of copies, an outcome of which the author complained bitterly in several letters dating from 1739. Yet in actual fact the Treatise was a starting point of a move towards innovation: it contained all the new and vital elements of his philosophy (4.9), but it was weighed down by his lack of literary experience, which at times made his prose longwinded and rambling. Hume himself confirmed this phenomenon in a letter he wrote in 1751 to Gilbert Elliot, a lawyer, Member of Parliament and close to the King: [] I was carryd away by the Heat of Youth & Invention to publish too precipitately. So vast an Undertaking, pland before I was one and twenty, & composd before twenty-five, must necessarily be very defective. I have repented my Haste a hundred, & a hundred times. (4.10). This failure subsequently prompted him to write much shorter and more incisive essays (his Essays Moral and Political, published in 1741 and 1742 were particularly appreciated), which sold out at once. Later Hume made a condensed version of the fundamental parts of the original Treatise, achieving considerable success with works such as the Philosophical Essays concerning Human understanding, published in London in 1748 by A. Millar and subsequently entitled An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding and, in 1751, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, likewise published in London by A. Millar. In fact he can be said to have displayed a distinct ability in drawing up synopses of previous complete works, and this should be borne in mind in seeking to grasp the reasons underlying the investigation performed by Keynes and Sraffa on the work with which we will be concerned here, as we will see in a moment. In short, despite its inauspicious beginnings, Humes public acclaim gradually increased, so that little by little he became a constant reference point for the literary and philosophical circles of the era. This was particularly true in France, which he visited for the first time in the period between 1734 and 1736, when he travelled to Reims and La Flche, and then again from 1763 to 1766, with a


The Enigma of the Treatise

prolonged stay in Paris. In the French capital he acted as secretary to the British Ambassador Lord Hertford, and he had the opportunity to become acquainted with some of the major Enlightenment figures, such as dAlembert, Buffon, Marmontel, Diderot, Elvetius, dHolbach, and also Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although his friendship with the latter was marred by a serious disagreement. In 2006 a perusal of this historical course of events inspired two BBC journalists, David Edmonds and John Eidinow, to write a highly amusing story of friendship, betrayal, hatred, resentment and tittletattle, to which they gave the title Rousseaus dog. Two great thinkers at war in the age of Enlightenment. (4.11). Let us take a look at this episode. As a person, Hume was regarded as a very benevolent gentleman, and he set great store by this reputation, taking pride in his amiability. This sheds light on the reason why, around 1766 i.e. in a period when Rousseau feared for his life after having been violently condemned in France and Switzerland because of the content of his books Hume, acting in perfect good faith, offered him political asylum in Britain. The French philosopher was at first most grateful for this assistance, but he subsequently underwent a total change of heart and assumed a diametrically opposite attitude towards Hume, convinced that the latter was conspiring against him. The friendship between the two thinkers broke down precisely on account of Rousseaus strange behavior during those unfortunate circumstances, and today there still persist doubts as to Rousseaus sanity. But the disagreement in no way affected the exalted reputation Hume enjoyed both at home and abroad. Upon his return to Edinburgh, Hume went into government service (he became under-secretary to General Conway) and his various appointments as a civil servant enabled him to live a dignified life until his death from cancer of the liver on 25 August 1776 at the age of sixty-five.

An intricate and intriguing story

The event that interests us is the appearance of a small pamphlet in London in March 1740, published by C. Corbet in Fleet Street (as mentioned earlier, probably on account of a printers error, the publisher is indicated on the frontispiece as Borbet). The pamphlet bore the title An Abstract of a book lately published entitled A Treatise of Human Nature & c. Wherein the CHIEF ARGUMENT of that BOOK is farther illustrated and explained, and also stated the price: Price six-pence. The short essay a sort of synopsis of the Treatise, but also containing a number of remarks with innovative observations as well as a veritable critical review of the Treatise itself was very likely written in OctoberNovember of 1739 and was sent to a journal The Gentlemans Magazine in which it appeared in March 1740. The essay was long attributed erroneously, in the opinion of Keynes and Sraffa to Adam Smith rather than to Hume himself. Today, its authorship is almost universally ascribed to Hume, although the question has sparked a polemic in which numerous figures have had their say, as I will describe further on. The misunderstanding concerning the attribution arose from a passage in a letter Hume wrote on 4 March 1740 to Francis Hutcheson (1694 1746), a renowned professor of morals in Glasgow. In the letter Hume stated:


The Enigma of the Treatise

My Bookseller has sent to Mr Smith a Copy of my Book, which I hope he has receivd, as well as your Letter. I have not yet heard what he has done with the Abstract. Perhaps you have. I have got it printed in London, but not in the Works of the Learned; there having been an article with regard to my Book, somewhat abusive, printed in that Work, before I sent up the Abstract. (5.1). Humes first biographer John Hill Burton, whose Life of Hume dates from 1846 interpreted Mr. Smith as Adam Smith (17231790). The latter was at that time a seventeen-year-old highflyer taught by professor Hutcheson at the University of Glasgow. In fact Hutcheson is believed to be the person who put forward the name of Adam Smith as the young scholar most worthy to receive and read the Treatise. In the wake of these considerations, John Rae hypothesized, in his Life of Adam Smith (1895), that Hutcheson gave Smith a copy of Humes Treatise and asked him to make a prcis of it which was to be sent to a periodical, and that Hume had been so delighted with the result that he himself actually gave Smith a complimentary copy of his book. Among Raes significant comments on the contents of Humes letter, one finds the following observation: If the Mr. Smith of this letter is Adam Smith, then he must have been away from Glasgow at that time, for Hutcheson was communicating with him by letter, but that may possibly be explained by the circumstance that he had been appointed to one of the Snell exhibitions at Balliol College, Oxford, and might have gone home to Kirkaldy to make preparations for residence at the English University, though he did not actually set out for Oxford till June. Rae then continues with the further explanation that These Snell exhibitions, which were practically in the gift of the Glasgow professors, were naturally the prize of the best student of Glasgow College at the time they fell vacant, and they have been held in the course of the two centuries of their existence by

An intricate and intriguing story


many distinguished men [] They were originally founded by an old Glasgow student, a strong Episcopalian, for the purpose of educating Scotchmen for the service of the Episcopal Church in Scotland. (5.2). The indication that Adam Smith was the author of the Abstract was taken up again later by subsequent generations of scholars; indeed, his authorship was taken for granted until, in the 1930s, Keynes and Sraffa began to take an interest in the question. The original edition of the Abstract published at the beginning of 1740 had by then become quite rare. In the concluding section of their Introduction to the Abstract, Keynes and Sraffa stated they had been able to locate only three copies one in the library of Trinity College, Dublin; another in the personal library of Prof. W. R. Scott, a scholar of Hutcheson and of Smith; and the third actually purchased by Keynes (who secreted it away from Sraffa) in the fabled Pickering and Chatto antiquarian bookshop in London. But it should also be pointed out that one of Keynes most important biographers Roy Forbes Harrod asserts in The life of John Maynard Keynes that the original of the Abstract was a gift to John Maynard from his brother Geoffrey, an esteemed surgeon and himself also a passionate bibliophile. The authors of the Introduction also note that the copy in Trinity College Library contained some indications concerning its previous owners, also describing how it came to be in the possession of the Library, whereas the other two copies held by Scott and Keynes bear no trace of their provenance. The short essay is composed of a Preface that precedes the text itself, that latter being An Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature. The Abstract contains, among other things, an important discussion on the inference from cause to effect, with the remarkable explanatory example about billiard balls striking one another, and with observations about their contiguity, the belief in experience and history as a similarity between past and future, and the supposition that the course of nature will continue uniformly the same a belief which arises only from custom as it is custom that is the guide of life and leads the mind in all instances to suppose the future conformable to the past. (5.3). These arguments put forward in the


The Enigma of the Treatise

Abstract were radically new, and Hume showed himself to be fully aware of the novelty he had introduced. Some reservations with regard to the authorship of the pamphlet may arise in respect of the fact that in the Preface the author of the Treatise is often referred to in the third person, i.e. he or indeed the author. On the other hand, this fact could perhaps simply be interpreted as a literary expedient to reinforce the summarizing effect of the booklet. The Abstract aroused considerable interest among the reading public, including in Italy Piero Sraffas homeland where a number of translations came out (for instance one by Luigi Guy for Cedam of Padua in 1942; another by Adelchi Baratono in an anthology for Garzanti in 1943; and also one by Armando Carlini for Laterza in Bari in 1948, to cite just a few). Particularly noteworthy is the translation edited by Mario Dal Pra (for Laterza, Bari, 1968), which contains a significant introductory essay and the Italian rendering of another important work by Hume dating from 1745, entitled A Letter from a Gentleman to his friend in Edinburgh. Among these Italian versions, there is one I consider to be the most interesting, as it features the Introduzione di John Maynard Keynes e Piero Sraffa, [Introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa] as well as some letters pertaining to the Treatise and the Abstract; moreover, it also contains the essay La mia vita, a rendering of Humes My Own Life, with a reference to the date of 18 April 1776. This is the edition published by Utet-libreria in 1999, carefully edited by Alessandra Attanasio, who also drew up the notes and an important essay on Humes Abstract. To satisfy the readers bibliophilic curiosity and to gain greater insight into this most beguiling sequence of events, an integral reproduction of the Abstract forming the object of this investigation is presented in the Appendix.

Lo and behold, other copies of the Abstract materialize

Some time later, further copies of the Abstract began to appear. The most important is the one bound in with a copy of the third volume of the Treatise, held at the British Library. It is important because it contains six handwritten alterations, five of which are certainly in Humes own hand. Given Humes well-known habit of correcting his own texts without further ado, the presence of these handwritten changes unequivocally points to Hume as the author of the Abstract. Confirmation also comes from Didier Deleule in his French edition of Humes text: Abrg du Trait de la Natura Humane. Texte original avec prsentation, traduction et notes par Didier Deleule. (6.1). The subject is brought up by Robert W. Connon, who found the above-mentioned British Library copy and published a note in 1976 in the Journal of the History of Philosophy, bearing the title Some Hume MS Alterations on a Copy of the Abstract (6.2). Connon also reviews the story of how the British Library came to be in possession of the book and the enclosure: the Library purchased it on 6 November 1841 from the London bookseller Thomas Rodd (17961849), who is said to have acquired the two texts on 27 September 1841 from an auction of the library of George Chalmers (17421825). In addition, Connons note mentions the existence of another copy of the Abstract kept in Edinburgh in the Library of the Blackford Hill Royal Observatory. Both this copy and the one in the Trinity College Library of Dublin show a manuscript correction (the word question is replaced by reasoning) not carried out by


The Enigma of the Treatise

Hume himself, but possibly by the publisher, Strahan. W. Connon provides further useful information in this connection, stating that It is clear from an entry in his ledger book that William Strahan (17151785) printed the Abstract. The ledger entry, which is dated Febry 9 [1740], also suggests that the Abstract may not have been printed for C. Borbet (as indicated in the imprint []) but rather for Mr. John Noon, Humes publisher for the first two volumes of the Treatise. The entry (recording printing costs for 500 copies of the Abstract) appears under the heading Dr. account of Mr John Noon. (6.3). Additional suggestions come from an article by David Fate Norton, who published a paper in Hume Studies (6.4) in 1993; bearing the significant title of More evidence that Hume Wrote the Abstract. Nortons article reveals the presence of yet another copy, at the Library of the Union Theological Seminary. On the frontispiece of this copy there appears the rather inscrutable annotation Cowbridge Society 1740 followed by a nineteenth-century form of typescript stating: This tract was published by D. Hume to draw the attention of the public to his first work which fell stillborn from the press. (6.5). Norton specifies in a footnote that the phrase fell dead born from the press reproduces Humes own wording, written by Hume in the context of his essay My Own Life published in 1778, in which Hume concedes that: Never literary attempt was more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. (6.6). Norton thus surmises that the annotation on the frontispiece must have been written after that date. One may also suggest, in a slightly different perspective which provides further support for Nortons hypothesis of Humes authorship, that the composition of the Abstract quite genuinely reflected Humes resolve not to forsake the line of enquiry he had initiated with the Treatise. Indeed Hume himself in the above cited essay, having acknowledged his failure to excite any response at all from the zealots, straightaway goes on to say: I very soon recovered the blow, and prosecuted with great ardour my studies in the country. (6.7).

The investigation performed by Keynes and Sraffa

Keynes and Sraffa, united by a strong bond of friendship and both very keen bibliophiles, undertook an in-depth study of the manuscript; together they drafted a most intriguing Introduction to the work in which they demonstrated that the authorship of the short essay was to be attributed to David Hume (7.1). This they did by building up a paradigm of clues worthy of the most sophisticated sleuth a paradigm that was based on internal evidence and, to use the notation adopted by John O. Nelson, external evidence, although the latter author went on to write an article expressing skepticism about the question Has the authorship of An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature really been decided? (7.2). I will dwell in greater detail on Nelsons comments shortly. The details defined as internal evidence invoke Humes propensity, mentioned earlier, to draw up synopses of his own works, and also to rely on the fact that the Abstract displays a number of explanatory concepts that are effectively highly innovative and thus are plausibly attributable to the selfsame author. Thus it is almost as if a new edition of the Treatise had been composed and put forward directly by the person that wrote the original David Hume. It should also be borne in mind that on 30 January 1739, at the age of twenty-eight, and therefore still in his early years, Hume published the first two volumes of the Treatise of Human


The Enigma of the Treatise

Nature (vol. I, Of the Understanding and vol II, Of the Passions) anonymously in London through the publisher John Noon (or Noone). Note that on 26 September 1738 Hume had undersigned a specific, and rather penalizing, contractual agreement, which stated that if a second edition of the work were to be brought out, the author should first proceed to purchase all the remaining unsold copies of the first edition at the market price of the given day. This may have prompted Hume to seek to publish a second edition containing his own corrections in Dublin, as this city was at the time beyond the scope of the London copyright regulations. This would have enabled Hume to free himself from the shackles of that agreement. The innovative ideas put forward in the Abstract are almost entirely reiterated in the third volume of the Treatise (Of Morals), published on 30 October 1740 in London by T. Longman, a publisher to whom Hume had been introduced by none other than Hutcheson himself. This third volume contains an appendix divided into two parts, written at different times the first dating from the same period as the Abstract, and the second composed at a later date and published according to their chronological order rather than on the basis of the logical sequence of the topics dealt with. The contents of the first part are more or less previewed in the Abstract, and the concepts therein expounded can also be found in Humes Essays published in 1741 and 1742, in particular in the 1748 Philosophical Essays. The situation is somewhat more complex with regard to the external evidence, which is founded on the conviction that the Mr. Smith referred to in Humes famous letter was a publisher from Dublin John Smith at the Philosophers Head on the Blind Quay through whom Hutcheson had published several of his own books. This is what underlies the hypothesis advanced by Keynes and Sraffa, in their statement: [] Hume had asked Hutcheson to recommend him to a Dublin publisher, with a view to an Irish edition of his Treatise of Human Nature, and [] naturally Hutcheson had suggested John Smith (7.3), to whom Hume had sent a copy of the Treatise and a copy of the Abstract (which at the time was still in manuscript form). Basically the two economists maintain that the

The investigation conducted by Keynes and Sraffa


Mr. Smith cited in Humes letter could not have been Adam Smith, but was instead John Smith of Dublin, At the Philosophers Head on the Blind Quay. Hume, they surmised, had instructed that a copy of the Treatise, with his own corrections marked in the London first edition, be sent to the Dublin gentleman because an Irish edition appeared as an attractive prospect, and Hume had thus appealed to Hutcheson to support this proposal. It will be recalled at this point that Hume had difficulty in publishing a second and appropriately corrected British edition of the Treatise on account of the one-sided and highly unfavorable contract he had signed with John Noon. This was certainly a good reason for an attempt to have it published in Dublin together with the Abstract/ Book-review, because at the time there existed no copyright laws in Dublin. Keynes and Sraffa then continue with the comment: Some hitch must have occurred, since no trace has been found of Dublin editions either of the Treatise or of the Abstract. (7.4). However, that a contact did actually take place is testified by the fact that in 1755 Hume had an edition of the first volume of his History of Great Britain printed in none other than Dublin. In 1939 at the Cambridge University Press, Keynes and Sraffa published the Introduction with both their names and with a facsimile copy of the 1740 work An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature etc., indicating the name of David Hume as the author. This edition likewise soon went out of print and as a rare book, it became much sought-after. The Introduction is, despite the very strong and long-standing bond of intellectual communion between Keynes and Sraffa, the only official testimony of work carried out jointly by the two great economists. It is for this reason that the text in question is of particular significance in their biographies and bibliographies.

Revisiting the Introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa

By virtue of its importance, its approach, and the atmosphere of suspense it skillfully weaves, the text of the Introduction written and signed jointly by Keynes and Sraffa (8.1) is well worth a critical reassessment. The text is not long, but arranged into four different sections with an extensive apparatus of notes (for a total of no fewer than 47). The first section focuses on the drafting, publishing and very poor sales achieved by Humes work bearing the title A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects. It was printed by John Noon at the White Hart, near Mercers Chapel in Cheapside. MDCCXXXIX [] in two volumes. The first with the title Of the Understanding [], the second Of the Passions. The work was written during the three years the Scottish philosopher spent in France, in Reims and then in La Flche: Hume had left Bristol during the summer of 1734, returning to London in 1737. In the first part of the Introduction, Keynes and Sraffa quote passages from three letters written by Hume himself to Henry Home (16961782), respectively on 2 December 1737, 13 February 1739, 1 June 1739, and from a fourth letter addressed to Michael Ramsey, dated 22 February 1739. A friend of Hume, Henry Home was an


The Enigma of the Treatise

important Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, a lawyer and also a judge, who took an interest in literature, philosophy and music, while Michael Ramsey was a long-standing friend of Hume, whom he had known since childhood. Hume is at pains in these letters to highlight the novel character of his thought and his opinions, which he defines as hard to summarize on account of the intrinsic difficulty of the new ideas. Such constructs, he acknowledges, were unlikely to obtain immediate success, a circumstance which in his view explained the virtually nonexistent sales of the Treatise. In this regard Keynes and Sraffa quote the earlier mentioned statement by Hume, which appeared in his autobiographical work My Own Life: Never was a literary attempt more unfortunate than my Treatise of Human Nature. It fell dead-born from the press, without reaching such distinction, as even to excite a murmur among the zealots. (8.2). A footnote mentions that this reference was an allusion to a specific passage from Alexander Pope (8.3). In the notes the reviewers also touch on Humes letter to Gilbert Elliot addressing the same topic dating from March or April 1751, in which Hume admitted that he was carryd away by the Heat of Youth & Invention to publish too precipitately [] and had repented his haste a hundred & a hundred thousand times. In fact Hume did show an awareness that his youthful publication had been overhasty: as he acknowledged in My Own life, he had been guilty of a very usual indiscretion in going to the press too early. (8.4). A further important subject is the unfair contract Hume had entered into with the publisher John Noon, which stipulated that for the first volume no more than one thousand copies would be printed (in actual fact it appears that far fewer were published), and which had a tie-in clause stating that if there were to be a second edition, the author would be committed to purchasing the unsold copies at the sale price current at the time of the second edition. This is precisely the reason why Keynes and Sraffa surmised that Hume was eager to publish a second edition straightaway in Dublin which was out of the scope of British laws on the protection of printed material together with the corrections that had meanwhile come into his mind.

Revisiting the Introduction


Moreover, the poor outcome of the London publication this is the hypothesis put forward by Keynes and Sraffa prompted Hume to write a sort of review of the Treatise, destined to become the Abstract which is the subject at hand here with the aim of publishing it in London in 1740 in the periodical The History of the Works of the Learned. However, the November-December issue of this journal presented an extensive note that effectively slated the Treatise, and this led Hume to publish the text in the form of a selfcontained pamphlet through the publisher C. Corbet, wrongly indicated as Borbet. Subsequently, the March 1740 issue of the gentlemans magazine mentions receipt of a copy of the pamphlet. The second section of Keynes and Sraffas Introduction is devoted to examining why it had become common practice to attribute authorship of the Abstract to Adam Smith who according to this traditional view, would have written it at the age of seventeen. The starting point is Humes famous letter to Francis Hutcheson, dated 4 March 1740, in which Hume reports that he had sent Mr. Smith a copy of his book, but had received no information as to Hutchesons response. Keynes and Sraffa then cite several biographers who, interpreting this sequence of events, attribute to Adam Smith a summary i.e. the Abstract of Humes Treatise; thus Keynes and Sraffas suggestion is that Hutcheson himself prompted Adam Smith to put pen to paper and draft the prcis. It was in fact known that as part of the master-pupil relationship, Hutcheson frequently gave his most promising students the assignment of drawing up an abridged version of renowned authors, both classical and recent. Various well-known biographies are included among the works consulted by Keynes and Sraffa: for instance the classical Life of Hume by John Hill Burton published in 1846, and the Life of Adam Smith by John Rae dating from 1895, as well as the biography Francis Hutcheson composed by William Robert Scott, which came out in 1900. There is also a reference to Leslie Stephen, who endorses Burtons position at the entry David Hume in the Dictionary of National Biography, thus attributing the Abstract to Adam Smith rather than to Hume himself, although the uncertainty concerning the identity of Mr. Smith is not fully dispelled.


The Enigma of the Treatise

In the third section of the Introduction, attention is directed to a more detailed critical construction of the true identity of the Mr. Smith mentioned in Humes letter to Hutcheson. The hypothesis is raised that the person involved may have been John Smith of Dublin, at the Philosophers Head on the Blind Quay, Hutchesons publisher, to whom Hutcheson also refers using the name Jack Smith. This appellative, which may have been a by-name, is found in particular in a letter addressed to Drennan on 8 July 1741, cited by Keynes and Sraffa in a footnote, but also by a number of other sources. The Mr. Smith in question could not have been Adam Smith, because Humes letter presupposed that the Smith to whom he referred was not in Glasgow at that time, whereas in the month of March of 1740 Adam Smith was almost certainly still present in the Scottish city. Furthermore, according to Prof. W. R. Scott (8.5), there is no evidence of any meeting between Hume and Adam Smith up to September October 1751, in other words, not before Humes return to Scotland which, however, did not take place until roughly ten years or so later. A plausible hypothesis is that Hume had asked Hutcheson to proceed immediately with the arrangements for a second edition of the Treatise to be published in Dublin, as Ireland was at the time still beyond of the scope of British copyright restrictions (and would remain so until 1801). Such a move would have provided Hume with an escape route from the penalizing contract he had signed in negotiating with Noon in London. Further, it is known that during this period Hume had been busy preparing some additional notes to the first two volumes of the Treatise, and these notes would eventually be included in the Appendix to the third volume. These conjectures lead to the surmise that Hume had sent John or Jack Smith both the Treatise and also a copy of the Abstract, with the hope that the Abstract would arouse interest on the part of some Irish journal and would thus spur involvement by the Irish world of publishing. Such a move, in the authors presumed intentions, would direct the attention of those active in book publishing in the Irish context to the possibility of publishing on Irish soil the main text of which the Abstract represented the summary.

Revisiting the Introduction


However, no concrete trace indicating that either the Treatise or the Abstract was genuinely published in Dublin has been found. This notwithstanding, it is a fact that John Smith did actually publish an edition of the first installment of David Humes History of Great Britain in Dublin, albeit not until 1755. The fourth and final section of Keynes and Sraffas Introduction offers critical reflections on the philosophical content of the Abstract and on its subsequent re-elaboration or reappearance in other works by Hume, above all in the Appendix to the third volume of the Treatise and in Philosophical Essays concerning Human Understanding, which was later renamed as Research. It is this common subject-matter that is taken as the internal evidence demonstrating that the Abstract was composed by David Hume, although there is one phrase in the preface to the pamphlet: I hope the Author will excuse me for meddling in this affair, since my aim is only to increase his auditory, by removing some difficulties, which have kept many from apprehending his meaning. (8.6). This, given the third-person reference the author, could suggest otherwise. But the reviewers do not award great importance to this phrase: rather, they point out that the first and second volume of the Treatise came out in January 1939, while the Abstract was probably written in October-November 1739 and published before March 1740. The third volume of the Treatise was sent to the printer at the end of 1740, and the Philosophical Essays came out much later, in 1748. The Introduction then turns to an inquiry into the structure of the Appendix to the third volume of the Treatise, pondering over why this Appendix is composed of two parts, the first referring to the third and fourth chapter of Book One of the Treatise, while the second is almost entirely taken up with discussion of Part One and Part Two. The Abstract effectively previews almost all the points discussed in the first part of the Appendix. As far as the drafting of the Appendix is concerned, the two parts of which it is composed appear to have been written at different times, the first during the same period as the Abstract itself, the second after conversations Hume held with Hutcheson. But the parts were assembled somewhat strangely, in a purely chronological fashion rather than in a logical sequence.


The Enigma of the Treatise

The Abstract is noted for containing a discussion on causation inquiring into whether there is a necessary connection between cause and effect. Famous in this regard is the earlier mentioned example of a billiard ball striking another such ball, which Hume later took up again in the Philosophical Essays. This is linked to the important line of reasoning concerning custom, which alone determined the mind, and is capable of generalizing the concept of causality, so that we suppose the future conformable to the past (8.7). Thus the Abstract develops a complex series of arguments: if these issues are inadequately grasped and this is the crucial point with which Keynes and Sraffa, in reference to the anonymity of the Abstract, bring their Introduction to a conclusion then they lead to an embarrassed concealment of the entire episode, and this cover-up proved so effective that almost two hundred years passed before its recovery from oblivion (8.8).

A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship of the Abstract

The Abstract with the Introduction by Keynes and Sraffa in the 1938 edition brought out by Cambridge University Press, was given a positive review by Friedrich A. von Hayek, published in Economica (August 1938) shortly after the appearance of the 1938 work. Hayek pointed out that the small pamphlet had lain forgotten for about two hundred years and that its rediscovery by the two Cambridge economists had resulted in the correct identification of the author as David Hume, thereby refuting the legend according to which the seventeen-year-old Adam Smith had written an Abstract for his master Hutcheson. Hayek asserted his conviction that the Smith mentioned in the by now famous letter addressed to Hutcheson by Hume on 4 March 1740 a letter generally indicated as H was a Dublin bookseller to whom Hume turned in order to have his Treatise reprinted, by-passing English copyright laws. On the other hand, some doubts concerning the identification of Hume as the author of the Abstract are raised by John Nelson of the University of Colorado in two articles he wrote which can be seen as complementary to each other. The first came out in 1976 in The Philosophical Quarterly (9.1), with a title that leapt to fame: Has the authorship of An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature really been decided?. The article makes use of a helpful subdivision of the


The Enigma of the Treatise

reasons adduced to reach a decision on the authorship of the Abstract, building on Keynes and Sraffas concept of the internal evidence and contrasting it with other aspects. Nelson writes: Keynes and Sraffa present two kinds of evidence for their contentions. One kind is what might be termed internal evidence. This consists of material contained in the text of the Abstract itself. [...] The second kind of evidence that they present is what might be termed external evidence (9.2.), which focuses mainly on the quest for the identity of the Mr Smith in the letter known as H. One of Nelsons most convincing arguments pertaining to the external evidence is his claim that the bookseller who was Humes publisher (John Noon) would have been unlikely to send a copy of the Treatise to a rival and indeed well-known publisher in Dublin, for the purpose of proposing a publication out of the scope of copyright, thus effectively a pirate edition. Moreover Hutcheson, well known for his moral vigour, would have hardly have allowed himself to become embroiled in an operation of borderline lawfulness. To these observations should be added Nelsons comments on Adam Smith. It is by no means implausible, Nelson feels, to imagine that Hutcheson may have assigned the task of reading Humes Treatise to Adam Smith, Hutchesons brilliant student, with the request to condense it into an Abstract. In Nelsons words: Adam Smith, by all accounts, possessed a mind full of striking illustrations and inexhaustible hypotheses. He was an admirer of the Treatise. He could conceivably have entered into its spirit and formed several new illustrations of its contentions. Hume, according to his correspondence, was not averse to making alterations in his works to conform to the criticisms and suggestions of others. (9.3). The conclusion John O. Nelson draws from these thoughts is, however, extremely cautionary. The following unpalatable conclusion seems therefore to force itself upon us. According to the external evidence it is most

A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship


improbable that Hume was the author of the Abstract and it is plausible to suppose that Adam Smith was; but according to the internal evidence it is most improbable that Adam Smith was the author and almost certain that Hume was. (9.4). Nelsons doubts had been dispelled once and for all by the time he wrote his second article, fifteen years later, The Authorship of the Abstract Revisited, published in 1991 in Hume Studies (9.5), in which a re-reading of H leads him to pinpoint more clearly certain incongruities in Keynes and Sraffas assumed equation between the Mr. Smith of H and the John Smith of Dublin. This time Nelson states: I want now to argue that it is not merely unlikely but impossible that the Mr. Smith of the letter should be the Dublin publisher, John Smith. (9.6). He then puts forward his conclusions: But if the Mr. Smith of H was not John Smith at the Philosphers Head on the Blind Quay (a title that might seem to say something about Sraffa and Keynes identification), who could he be except the Adam Smith of the traditional Theory? [...] But if the Mr. Smith of H is Adam Smith, as (with John Smith removed) it seems it has to be, then all the reasons previously adverted to that supported the traditional Adam Smith authorship theory re-assert themselves and it becomes absolutely inconceivable that Adam Smith was not the author of the Abstract. Simultaneously, of course, Sraffa and Keynes Hume authorship theory has to be abandoned, resting as it finally does on the replacement of Adam Smith with John Smith as the reference of Hs Mr. Smith. (9.7). Additional authors have also probed this intriguing question. In 1977, in a follow-up to the article by Robert W. Connon cited earlier, which dated from the previous year, Connon himself, a scholar of Linacre College, Oxford, together with P. Pollard of Trinity College, Dublin, wrote a long note entitled On the Authorship of Humes Abstract, in which the joint authors go back over the doubts expressed in Nelsons first article. In their 1977 paper they reach the conclusion that All of these facts are of course


The Enigma of the Treatise

quite compatible with the assumption that Hume himself was the author of the Abstract. (9.8). They believe that the identification of Hume as the author of the Abstract is also corroborated by the corrections jotted down by Hume himself on the copy of the Abstract discovered in the British Library, discussed by Connon in his previous article (9.9). In 1992 another scholar, Jeff Broome of the Arapahoe Community College of Littleton in Colorado, contributed a lengthy article to Hume Studies, On the Authorship of the Abstract: A Reply to John O. Nelson (9.10), with a critical re-examination of the second piece by John Nelson, the one dating from 1991 namely The Authorship of the Abstract Revisited. Broomes long, drawn-out exploration of the various arguments leads to a new interpretation of the facts, with numerous interesting insights that are rich in significance, while at the same time confirming that the Smith in question is indeed John Smith of Dublin: On this point Keynes and Sraffa are correct; but against their thesis, I shall argue that Humes purpose in referring to John Smith is not to see to his publishing an Irish edition of the Treatise (volumes 1 and 2, and the soon to be published volume 3), but rather to see to his publishing an Irish edition of the Abstract, in the hope that this would help to promote sales of the already published volume 1 and 2 of the Treatise. (9.11). Broome further maintains that: We are left to consider that John Smith was sent a copy of the Treatise, at Humes request, in order for Smith to publish a Dublin edition of the Abstract, and not volume 3 of the Treatise. The Abstract, favorably received in intellectual circles, would promote the sales of volume 1 and 2, which of course would please Noon and Hume both. [] But why, we might ask, would it be necessary to have Noon send Smith the Treatise? Would it not be enough to simply have Hume attempt this arrangement, with just Hutchesons letter of recommendation? Not really. Imagine a publisher willing to engage in publishing a brief abstract of a

A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship


work already published by another publisher. What possible benefits could this serve Smith? [] it would not make sense to extol a work unknown to Smith. Hence the necessity in having Noon send a copy of the Treatise to Smith. (9.12). Jeff Broome thus reaches conclusions that confirm Humes authorship of the Abstract: [] Keynes and Sraffa err when they assume that Hume is desiring John Smith to publish volume 3 (Abstract, XIX). But they do not err when they identify the Mr. Smith as John Smith, the Dublin publisher. [] But should anyone still be tempted to entertain any doubts as to whether or not Hume himself was the author of the Abstract, one needs only consider the fact that the copy of the Abstract in the British Museum was Humes own copy, and that it contains stylistic corrections in Humes own handwriting. (9.13). To reinforce his argument, Broome emphasizes that Hume was in the habit of correcting his already published works, also pointing out that there is no reason to believe that if the Abstract had not been his own work Hume would have failed to mark the name of Adam Smith on his own copy: Had Adam Smith been its author, why would Hume have not written Adam Smiths name to the title of his copy? Moreover, Hume surely would not have corrected stylistically a pamphlet that he himself did not write (9.14). Similarly, David R. Raynor of the University of Ottawa, in his piece on The Author of the Abstract Revisited published in 1993 in Hume Studies (9.15), and referring back to the quasi-namesake article by Nelson The Authorship of the Abstract Revisited, definitively confirmed Hume as the author of the Abstract: We may therefore safely conclude that Hume wrote the Abstract. (9.16). In his article Raynor merely adds the hypothesis that the Smith of the much-cited letter could have been a certain William Smith, one of the publishers of the Amsterdam periodical Bibliothque Raisonne, (9.17), who was acquainted with Hutcheson in as much


The Enigma of the Treatise

as an essay of Hutchesons The Inquiry had been published precisely in Dublin by William Smith, together with the other publisher John Smith. William Smith had subsequently moved to Amsterdam, where he worked for the above-cited periodical and more generally in the world of publishing. The scholar who has most recently taken a position on the authorship of the Abstract is David Fate Norton. In the article cited earlier, More evidence that Hume Wrote the Abstract, published in April 1993 in Hume Studies (9.18), Norton examined the previous articles on the question, with particular reference to the abovementioned article by David R. Raynor The Author of the Abstract Revisited (Hume Studies, 19 April 1993, nr. 1); the two by John O. Nelson, Has the authorship of An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature really been decided? (published in Number 26 of the 1976 volume of The Philosophical Quarterly), and The Authorship of the Abstract Revisited (Hume Studies 1991); as well as the article by J. Broome On the Authorship of the Abstract: a Reply to John O. Nelson (Hume Studies 1992); and the paper by R.W. Connon and M. Pollard On the Authorship of Humes Abstract (which came out in 1977 in Number 106 of The Philosophical Quarterly). What Norton underlines is the existence of a William Smith, who was the publisher of the periodical Bibliothque Raisonne (9.19), i.e. the journal to which a copy of the Abstract is said to have been sent prior to the publication of a review of the Treatise that appeared in the spring of 1740. Thus Norton too espouses the hypothesis that this William Smith may have been the Mr. Smith of Humes letter. Norton also argues that the Abstract had actually been printed by William Strahan on behalf of John Noon, as there exists an accountancy document (an invoice) issued on 9 February 1740. Moreover, there is a specific indication of that publication in the Strahan ledger kept at the British Library. As for Corbet, he had only recently set up a publishing business, and had placed an announcement in the London Daily Post and General Advertiser in the editions of 19 and 20 April 1739, wherein he stated his willingness to offer his name as a front man and to promote would-be publications. Above all, Norton confirms incontrovertibly, and against the opinions forcefully argued in the articles cited earlier, that Hume was

A few doubts arise concerning the true authorship


the author of the short essay in question. Norton states: The most important evidence that Hume wrote the Abstract is, in my view, that emphasized by Keynes and Sraffa: the internal evidence of the work itself. (9.20). So, has the authorship of the Abstract been finally put to rest? Possibly. But it is not unlikely that queries and reservations about the still mysterious Abstract will continue to loom on the horizon in the future, despite the certainties Keynes and Sraffa upheld as they sought to adduce evidence on the Hume authorship.

Notes and references

1) Opening remarks 1.1)  Christopher N. L. Brooke, A History of the University of Cambridge, Volume IV 18701990, Cambridge University Press 1993, p. XV. 1.2)  Elisabeth Leedham-Green, A concise History of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 7. 1.3)  Ibidem, p. 17. 1.4)  John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Biography, edited by Geoffrey Keynes. The Norton Library, New York 1963, p. 121. 1.5) Ibidem, pp. 205, 206, 207. 2) Prelude 2.1) A  N ABSTRACT OF A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740. A Pamphlet Hitherto unknown by David Hume. Reprinted with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, Cambridge University Press, 1938. 3) The quirks of chance 3.1)  Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes e i Keynesiani di Cambridge, Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari 2010, Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes and The Cambridge Keynesians. A Revolution in Economics to be Accomplished Cambridge University Press 2007. 3.2)  Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes and the Cambridge Keynesians. cit., p. 360. 3.3) Ibidem, p. 274. 3.4)  John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Biography, edited by Geoffrey Keynes. The Norton Library, New York 1963, pp. 311, 319. 3.5) Luigi G. Pasinetti, Keynes and... cit., pp. 254255.


The Enigma of the Treatise

4) The protagonists of an unusual adventure 4.1) Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes and... cit., p. 59. 4.2)  Keynes, J.M. (1923), A Tract on Monetary Reform, London: Macmillan, Ch. 3; C.W., vol. IV, 1971. 4.3) Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes and... cit p. 139. 4.4)  Luigi L. Pasinetti, ibidem., p. 139. 4.5)  Alessandro Roncaglia, Sraffa, la biograa, lopera, le scuole, Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1999, p. 83. 4.6)  John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Biography, cit. pp. 115, 118. 4.7) Luigi L. Pasinetti, Keynes and... cit. pp. 140141. 4.8)  Guido De Ruggero, Storia della losoa, vol. V, Laterza Bari 1972, p. 247. 4.9)  Ibidem, p. 245.; Quotation translated by Rachel M. Costa. AN ABSTRACT OF A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 4.10)  1740... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit., p. VIII. 4.11)  David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Rousseaus dog. Two great thinkers at war in the age of Enlightenment, Ecco/ Harper Collins Publishers 2006. In Italy: Il cane di Rousseau Due grandi pensatori in conitto nellet dei Lumi, Garzanti. Milano 2009. 5) An intricate and intriguing story AN ABSTRACT OF A TREATISE... with an Introduction 5.1)  by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit. p. XIII; cf. also The Letters of David Hume, ed. J.Y.T. Grieg (Oxford), 1969, 1:3738. 5.2)  Rae, Life of Adam Smith, Macmillan & Co..London and New York 1895, pp. 15, 16. 5.3) A  bstract of a Book lately Published..., by David Hume, retrieved from, SBN 653.

Notes and references


6) Lo and behold, other copies of the Abstract materialize 6.1) A  brg du Trait de la nature Humaine. Texte original avec prsentation, traduction et notes par Didier Deleule. (Paris, Aubier Montaigne 1971) cited by R. W. Connon in Some Hume MS Alterations on a Copy of the Abstract, Journal of the History of Philosophy vol. 14, n 3, July 1976, pp. 353356. 6.2)  R. W. Connon, Some Hume MS Alterations on a Copy of the Abstract. Journal of the History of Philosophy 14, 1976, pp. 353356. 6.3) Ibidem, p. 353. 6.4)  David Fate Norton, More Evidence that Hume Wrote the Abstract. Hume Studies vol. XIX no. 1 April 1993 pp. 217222. 6.5) Ibidem, p. 218. 6.6) Ibidem, p. 222. 6.7)  David Hume, My Own Life, retrieved from http://www., Mil xxxv. 7) The investigation performed by Keynes and Sraffa 7.1) A  n Abstract of A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740 ... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit. 7.2)  John O. Nelson, Has the authorship of An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature really been decided? The Philosophical Quarterly vol. 26 no. 102 1976. pp. 8291. 7.3) A  n Abstract of A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740 ... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit.., p. xxii. 7.4) Ibidem, p. XXIII. 8) R  evisiting the Introduction by John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa An Abstract of A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740 8.1)  ... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit. 8.2) My Own Life, cit., Mil xxxv. 8.3) A  n Abstract of A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740 ... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit., P.x 8.4)  David Hume, My Own life, cit., Mil xxxvi.


The Enigma of the Treatise

8.5) S  cott, W.R., Adam Smith as student and professor, Glasgow: Jackson, Son & Co, 1937. 8.6) cit., SBN 645. 8.7) Ibidem, SBN 653. 8.8) A  n Abstract of A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE 1740 ... with an Introduction by J.M. Keynes and P. Sraffa, cit., p. xxxi. 9) A few doubts arise concerning its true authorship 9.1)  John O. Nelson, Has the authorship of An Abstract of a Treatise of Human Nature really been decided? The Philosophical Quarterly vol. 26 no. 102, Jan. 1976. pp. 8291. 9.2) Ibidem, p. 82. 9.3) Ibidem, p. 91. 9.4) Ibidem. 9.5)  John O. Nelson, The Authorship of the Abstract Revisited. Hume Studies 17, no. 1 April 1991 pp. 8386. 9.6) Ibidem, p. 84. 9.7) Ibidem, pp. 8586. 9.8)  R.W. Connon and M. Pollard, On the Authorship of Humes Abstract. The Philosophical Quarterly vol. 27, no. 106, 1977 pp. 6066. 9.9) cf. Fn. (6.2). 9.10)  J. Broome, On the Authorship of the Abstract: a Reply to John O. Nelson. Hume Studies 18, no. 1 April 1992 pp. 95103. 9.11) Ibidem, p. 96. 9.12) Ibidem, p. 101. 9.13) Ibidem, p. 102. 9.14)  Ibidem, p. 102. 9.15) David R. Raynor, The Author of the Abstract Revisit.

Appendix 1


OF A BOOK lately Published; ENTITULED, A


Human Nature, &c.

wherein The CHIEF ARGUMENT of that BOOK is farther illustrated and explained.

LONDON: Printed for C. Borbet, at Addisons Head, over-against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet-Street. 1740. [Price fix Pence.]


My expectations in this small performance may seem somewhat extraordinary, when I declare that my intentions are to render a larger work more intelligible to ordinary capacities, by abridging it. however certain, that those who are not accustomed to abstract reasoning, are apt to lose the thread of argument, where it is drawn out to a great length, and each part fortified with all the arguments, guarded against all the objections, and illustrated with all the views, which occur to a writer in the diligent survey of his subject. Such Readers will more readily apprehend a chain of reasoning, that is more single and concise, where the chief proportions only are linkt on to each other, illustrated by some simple examples, and confirmed by a few of the more forcible arguments. The parts lying nearer together can better be compared, and the connection be more easily traced from the first principles to the last conclusion. THE work, of which I here present the Reader with an abstract, has been complained of as obscure and difficult to be comprehended, and I am apt to think, that this proceeded as much from the length as from the abstractedness of the argument. If I have remedyd this inconvenience in any degree, I have attained my end. The book seem'd to me to have such an air singularity, and novelty as claimd the attention of the public; especially if it be found as the Author seems to insinuate, that were his philosophy receivd we must alter from the foundation the greatest part of the sciences. Such bold attempts are always advantageous in the republic of letters, because they shake off the yoke of authority, accustom men to think for themselves, give new hints, which men of genius may carry further and by the very opposition, illustrate points, wherein no one before suspected any difficulty.



The Author must be contented to wait with patience for some time before the learned world can agree in their sentiments of his performance. Tis his misfortune, that he cannot make an appeal to the people, who in all matters of common reason and eloquence are found so infallible a tribunal. He must be judged by the FEW, whose verdict is more apt to be corrupted by partiality and prejudice, especially as no one is a proper judge in these subjects, who has not often thought of them; and such are apt to form to themselves systems of their own, which they resolve not to relinquish. I hope the Author will excuse me far intermeddling in this affair, Since my aim is only to encrease his auditory, by removing some difficulties, which have kept many from apprehending his meaning. I have chosen one simple argument, which I have carefully traced from the beginning to the end. This is the only point I have taken care to finish. The rest is only hints of particular passages, which seemd to me curious and remarkable.


OF A BOOK lately Published; ENTITULED, A Treatise of Human Nature, &c.
This book seems to be wrote upon the same plan with several other works that have had a great vogue of late years in England. The philosophical spirit, which has been so much improved all over Europe within these last fourscore years, has been carried to as great a length in this kingdom as in any other. Our writers seem even to have started a new kind of philosophy, which promises more both to the entertainment and advantage of mankind, than any other with which the world has been yet acquainted. Most of the philosophers of antiquity, who treated of human nature, have shown more of a delicacy of sentiment, a just sense of morals, or a greatness of soul, than a depth of reasoning and reflection. They content themselves with representing the common sense of mankind in the strongest lights, and with the best turn of thought and expression, without following out steadily a chain of propositions, or forming the several truths into a regular science. But tis at least worthwhile to try if the science of man will not admit of the same accuracy which several parts of natural philosophy are sound susceptible of. There seems to be all the reason in the world to imagine that it may be carried to the greatest degree of exactness. If, in examining several phenomena, we find that they resolve themselves into one common principle, and can trace this principle into another, we shall at last arrive at those few simple principles, on which all the rest depend. And tho we can never arrive at the ultimate principles, tis a satisfaction to go as far as our faculties will allow us. This seems to have been the aim of our late philosophers, and, among the rest, of this author. He proposes to anatomize human



nature in a regular manner, and promises to draw no conclusions but where he is authorized by experience. He talks with contempt of hypotheses; and insinuates, that such of our countrymen as have banished them from moral philosophy, have done a more signal service to the world, than my Lord Bacon, whom he considers as the father of experimental physics. He mentions, on this occasion, Mr. Locke, my Lord Shall bury, Dr. Mandeville, Mr. Hutchison, Dr. Butler, who, tho they differ in many points among themselves, seem all to agree in sounding their accurate disquisitions of human nature entirely upon experience. Beside the satisfaction of being acquainted with what most nearly concerns us, it may be safely affirmed, that almost all the sciences are comprehended in the science of human nature, and are dependent on it. The sole end of logic is to explain the principles and Operations of our reasoning faculty, and the nature of our ideas; morals and criticism regard our tastes and sentiments; and politics consider men as united in society, and dependent on each other. This treatise therefore of human nature seems intended for a system of the sciences. The author has finished what regards logic, and has laid the foundation of the other parts in his account of the passions. The celebrated Monsieur Leibnitz has observed it to be a defect in the common systems of logic, that they are very copious when they explain the operations of the understanding in the forming of demonstrations, but are too concise when they treat of probabilities, and those other measures of evidence on which life and action entirely depend, and which are our guides even in most of our philosophical speculations. In this censure, he comprehends the essay on human understanding, le recherche de la verite, and lart de penser. The author of the treatise of human nature seems to have been sensible of this defect in these philosophers, and has endeavored, as much as he can, to supply it. As his book contains a great number of speculations very new and remarkable, it will be impossible to give the reader a just notion of the whole. We shall therefore chiefly confine ourselves to his explication of our reasonings from cause and effect. If we can make this intelligible to the reader, it may serve as a specimen of the whole. Our author begins with some definitions. He calls a perception whatever can be present to the mind, whether we employ our senses,


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or are actuated with passion, or exercise our thought and reflection. He divides our perceptions into two kinds, viz. impressions and ideas. When we feel a passion or emotion of any kind, or have the images of external objects conveyed by our senses; the perception of the mind is what he calls an impression, which is a word that he employs in a new sense. When we reflect on a passion or an object which is not present, this perception is an idea. Impressions, therefore, are our lively and strong perceptions; ideas are the sainter and weaker. This distinction is evident; as evident as that betwixt feeling and thinking. The first proposition he advances, is, that all our ideas, or weak perceptions, are derived from our impressions, or strong perceptions, and that we can never think of anything which we have not seen without us, or felt in our own minds. This proposition seems to be equivalent to that which Mr. Locke has taken such pains to establish, viz. that no ideas are innate. Only it may be observed, as an inaccuracy of that famous philosopher, that he comprehends all our perceptions under the term of idea, in which sense it is false, that we have no innate ideas. For it is evident our stronger perceptions or impressions are innate, and that natural affection, love of virtue, resentment, and all the other passions, arise immediately from nature. I am persuaded, whoever would take the question in this light, would be easily able to reconcile all parties. Father Malebranche would find himself at a loss to point out any thought of the mind, which did not represent something antecedently felt by it, either internally, or by means of the external senses, and must allow, that however we may compound, and mix, and augment, and diminish our ideas, they are all derived from these sources. Mr. Locke, on the other hand, would readily acknowledge, that all our passions are a kind of natural instincts, derived from nothing but the original constitution of the human mind. Our author thinks, that no discovery could have been made more happily for deciding all controversies concerning ideas than this, that impressions always take the precedency of them, and that every idea with which the imagination is furnished, first makes its appearance in a correspondent impression. These latter perceptions are all so clear and evident, that they admit of no controversy; tho many of



our ideas are so obscure, that tis almost impossible even for the mind, which forms them, to tell exactly their nature and composition, Accordingly, wherever any idea is ambiguous, he has always recourse to the impression, which must render it clear and precise. And when he suspects that any philosophical term has no idea annexed to it (as is too common) he always asks from what impression that idea is derived? And if no impression can be produced, he concludes that the term is altogether insignificant. Tis after this manner he examines our idea of substance and essence; and it were to be wished, that this rigorous method were more practiced in all philosophical debates. Tis evident, that all reasonings concerning matter of fact are founded on the relation of cause and effect, and that we can never infer the existence of one object from another, unless they be connected together, either mediately or immediately. In order therefore to understand these reasonings, we must be perfectly acquainted with the idea of a cause; and in order to that, must look about us to find something that is the cause of another. Here is a billiard-ball lying on the table, and another ball moving towards it with rapidity. They strike; and the ball, which was formerly at rest, now acquires a motion. This is as perfect an instance of the relation of cause and effect as any which we know, either by sensation or reflection. Let us therefore examine it. Tis evident, that the two balls touched one another before the motion was communicated, and that there was no interval betwixt the shock and the motion. Contiguity in time and place is therefore a requisite circumstance to the operation of all causes. Tis evident likewise, that the motion, which was the cause, is prior to the motion, which was the effect. Priority in time, is therefore another requisite circumstance in every cause. But this is not all. Let us try any other bails of the same kind in a like situation, and we shall always find, that the impulse of the one produces motion in the other. Here therefore is a third circumstance, viz. that of a constant conjunction betwixt the cause and effect. Every object like the cause, produces always some object like the effect. Beyond these three circumstances of contiguity, priority, and constant conjunction, I can discover nothing in this cause. The first ball is in motion; touches the second; immediately the second is in motion: and when I try the experiment


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with the same or like balls, in the same or like circumstances, I find, that upon the motion and touch of the one ball, motion always follows in the other. In whatever shape I turn this matter, and however I examine it, I can find nothing farther. This is the case when both the cause and effect are present to the senses. Let us now see upon what our inference is founded, when we conclude from the one that the other has existed or will exist. Suppose I see a ball moving in a straight line towards another, I immediately conclude, that they will shock, and that the second will be in motion. This is the inference from cause to effect; and of this nature are all our reasonings in the conduct of life: on this is founded all our belief in history: and from hence is derived all philosophy, excepting only geometry and arithmetic. If we can explain the inference from the shock of two balls, we shall be able to account for this operation of the mind in all instances. Were a man, such as Adam, created in the full vigour of understanding, without experience, he would never be able to infer motion in the second ball from the motion and impulse of the first. It is not anything that reason sees in the cause, which make us infer the effect. Such an inference, were it possible, would amount to a demonstration, as being founded merely on the comparison of ideas. But no inference from cause to effect amounts to a demonstration. Of which there is this evident proof. The mind can always conceive any effect to follow from any cause, and indeed any event to follow upon another: whatever we conceive is possible, at least in a metaphysical sense: but wherever a demonstration takes place, the contrary is impossible, and implies a contradiction. There is no demonstration, therefore, for any conjunction of cause and effect. And this is a principle, which is generally allowed by philosophers. It would have been necessary, therefore, for Adam (if he was not inspired) to have had experience of the effect, which followed upon the impulse of these two balls. He must have seen, in several instances, that when the one ball struck upon the other, the second always acquired motion. If he had seen a sufficient number of instances of this kind, whenever he saw the one ball moving towards the other, he would always conclude without hesitation, that the



second would acquire motion. His understanding would anticipate his fight, and form a conclusion suitable to his past experience. It follows, then, that all reasonings concerning cause and effect, are founded on experience, and that all reasonings from experience are founded on the supposition, that the course of nature will continue uniformly the fame. We conclude, that like causes, in like circumstances, will always produce like effects. It may now be worthwhile to consider, what determines us to form a conclusion of such infinite consequence. Tis evident, that Adam with all his science, would never have been able to demonstrate, that the course of nature must continue uniformly the same, and that the future must be conformable to the past. What is possible can never be demonstrated to be false; and tis possible the course of nature may change, since we can conceive such a change. Nay, I will go farther, and assert, that he could not so much as prove by any probable arguments, that the future must be conformable to the past. All probable arguments are built on the supposition, that there is this conformity betwixt the future and the past, and therefore can never prove it. This conformity is a matter of fact, and if it must be proved, will admit of no proof but from experience. But our experience in the past can be a proof of nothing for the future, but upon a supposition, that there is a resemblance betwixt them. This therefore is a point, which can admit of no proof at all, and which we take for granted without any proof. We are determined by custom alone to suppose the future conformable to the past. When I see a billiard-ball moving towards another, my mind is immediately carryd by habit to the usual effect, and anticipates my fight by conceiving the second ball in motion. There is nothing in these objects, abstractly considered, and independent of experience, which leads me to form any such conclusion: and even after I have had experience of many repeated effects of this kind, there is no argument, which determines me to suppose, that the effect will be conformable to past experience. The powers, by which bodies operate, are entirely unknown. We perceive only their sensible qualities: and what reason have we to think, that the same powers will always be conjoined with the fame sensible qualities?


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Tis not, therefore, reason, which is the guide of life, but custom. That alone determines the mind, in all instances, to suppose the future conformable to the past. However easy this step may seem, reason would never, to all eternity, be able to make it. This is a very curious discovery, but leads us to others, that are still more curious. When I see a billiard ball moving towards another, my mind is immediately carried by habit to the usual effect, and anticipate my sight by conceiving the second ball in motion. But is this all? Do I nothing but conceive the motion of the second ball? No surely. I also believe that it will move. What then is this belief? And how does it differ from the simple conception of anything? Here is a new question unthought of by philosophers. When a demonstration convinces me of any proposition, it not only makes me conceive the proposition, but also makes me sensible, that tis impossible to conceive anything contrary. What is demonstratively false implies a contradiction; and what implies a contradiction cannot be conceived. But with regard to any matter of fact, however strong the proof may be from experience, I can always conceive the contrary, tho I cannot always believe it. The belief, therefore, makes some difference betwixt the conception to which we assent, and that to which we do not assent. To account for this, there are only two hypotheses. It may be said, that belief joins some new idea to those which we may conceive without assenting to them. But this hypothesis is false. For first, no such idea can be produced. When we simply conceive an object, we conceive it in all its parts. We conceive it as it might exist, tho we do not believe it to exist. Our belief of it would discover no new qualities. We may paint out the entire object in imagination without believing it. We may set it, in a manner, before our eyes, with every circumstance of time and place. Tis the very object conceived as it might exist; and when we believe it, we can do no more. Secondly, The mind has a faculty of joining all ideas together, which involve not a contradiction; and therefore if belief consisted in some idea, which we add to the simple conception, it would be in a mans power, by adding this idea to it, to believe anything, which he can conceive.



Since therefore belief implies a conception, and yet is something more; and since it adds no new idea to the conception; it follows, that it is a different manner of conceiving an object; something that is distinguishable to the feeling, and depends not upon our will, as all our ideas do. My mind runs by habit from the visible object of one ball moving towards another, to the usual effect of motion in the second ball. It not only conceives that motion, but feels something different in the conception of it from a mere reverie of the imagination. The presence of this visible object, and the constant conjunction of that particular effect, render the idea different to the feeling from those loose ideas, which come into the mind without any introduction. This conclusion seems a little surprising; but we are led into it by a chain of propositions, which admit of no doubt. To ease the readers memory I shall briefly resume them. No matter of fact can be proved but from its cause or its effect. Nothing can be known to be the cause of another but by experience. We can give no reason for extending to the future our experience in the past; but are entirely determined by custom, when we conceive an effect to follow from its usual cause. But we also believe an effect to follow, as well as conceive it. This belief joins no new idea to the conception. It only varies the manner of conceiving, and makes a difference to the feeling or sentiment. Belief, therefore, in all matters of fact arises only from custom, and is an idea conceived in a peculiar manner. Our author proceeds to explain the manner or feeling, which renders belief different from a loose conception. He seems sensible, that tis impossible by words to describe this feeling, which everyone must be conscious of in his own breast. He calls it sometimes a stronger conception sometimes a more lively, a more vivid, a sirmer, or a more intense conception. And indeed, whatever name we may give to this feeling, which constitutes belief, our author thinks it evident, that it has a more forcible effect on the mind than fiction and mere conception. This he proves by its influence on the passions and on the imagination; which are only moved by truth or what is taken for such. Poetry, with all its art, can never cause a passion, like one in real life. It fails in the original conception of its objects, which ever feel in the same manner as those which command our belief and opinion.


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Our author presuming, that he had sufficiently proved, that the ideas we assent to are different to the feeling from the other ideas, and that this feeling is more firm and lively than our common conception, endeavours in the next place to explain the cause of this lively feeling by an analogy with other acts of the mind. His reasoning seems to be curious; but could scarce be rendered intelligible, or at least probable to the reader, without a long detail, which would exceed the compass I have prescribed to myself. I have likewise omitted many arguments, which he adduces to prove that belief consists merely in a peculiar feeling or sentiment. I shall only mention one; our past experience is not always uniform. Sometimes one effect follows from a cause, sometimes another: In which case we always believe, that that will exist which is most common. I see a billiard-ball moving towards another. I cannot distinguish whether it moves upon its axis, or was struck so as to skim along the table. In the first case, I know it will not stop after the shock. In the second it may stop. The first is most common, and therefore I lay my account with that effect. But I also conceive the other effect, and conceive it as possible, and as connected with the cause. Were not the one conception different in the feeling or sentiment from the other, there would be no difference betwixt them. We have confind ourselves in this whole reasoning to the relation of cause and effect, as discovered in the motions and operations of matter. But the same reasoning extends to the operations of the mind. Whether we consider the influence of the will in moving our body, or in governing our thought, it may safely be affirmed, that we could never foretell the effect, merely from the consideration of the cause, without experience. And even after we have experience of these effects, tis custom alone, not reason, which determines us to make it the standard of our future judgments. When the cause is presented, the mind, from habit, immediately passes to the conception and belief of the usual effect. This belief is something different from the conception. It does not, however, join any new idea to it. It only makes it be felt differently, and renders it stronger and more lively. Having dispatch this material point concerning the nature of the inference from cause and effect, our author returns upon his



footsteps, and examines anew the idea of that relation. In the considering of motion communicated from one ball to another, we could find nothing but contiguity, priority in the cause, and constant conjunction. But, beside these circumstances, tis commonly supposd, that there is a necessary connexion betwixt the cause and effect, and that the cause possesses something, which we call a power, or force, or energy. The question is, what idea is annexd to these terms? If all our ideas or thoughts be derived from our impressions, this power must either discover itself to our senses, or to our internal feeling. But so little does any power discover itself to the senses in the operations of matter, that the Cartesians have made no scruple to assert, that matter is utterly deprived of energy, and that all its operations are performd merely by the energy of the supreme Being. But the question still recurs, What idea have we of energy or power even in the supreme Being? All our idea of a Deity (according to those who deny innate ideas) is nothing but a composition of those ideas, which we acquire from reflecting on the operations of our own minds. Now our own minds afford us no more notion of energy than matter does. When we consider our will or volition a priori, abstracting from experience, we should never be able to infer any effect from it. And when we take the assistance of experience, it only shows us objects contiguous, successive, and constantly conjoined. Upon the whole, then, either we have no idea at all of force and energy, and these words are altogether insignificant, or they can mean nothing but that determination of the thought, acquird by habit, to pass from the cause to its usual effect. But whoever would thoroughly understand this must consult the author himself. Tis sufficient, if I can make the learned world apprehend, that there is some difficulty in the case, and that whoever solves the difficulty must say something very new and extraordinary; as new as the difficulty itself. By all that has been said the reader will easily perceive, that the philosophy containd in this book is very sceptical, and tends to give us a notion of the imperfections and narrow limits of human understanding. Almost all reasoning is there reduced to experience; and the belief, which attends experiences explained to be nothing but a peculiar sentiment, or lively conception produced by habit.


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Nor is this all, when we believe anything of external existence, or suppose an object to exist a moment after it is no longer perceived, this belief is nothing but a sentiment of the same kind. Our author insists upon several other sceptical topics; and upon the whole concludes, that we assent to our faculties, and employ our reason only because we cannot help it. Philosophy woud render us entirely Pyrrhonian, were not nature too strong for it. I shall conclude the logics of this author with an account of two opinions, which seem to be peculiar to himself, as indeed are most of his opinions. He asserts, that the soul, as far as we can conceive it, is nothing but a system or train of different perceptions, those of heat and cold, love and anger, thoughts and sensations; all united together, but without any perfect simplicity or identity. Des Cartes maintained that thought was the essence of the mind; not this thought or that thought, but thought in general. This seems to be absolutely unintelligible, since everything, that exists, is particular: And therefore it must be our several particular perceptions, that compose the mind. I say, compose the mind, not belong to it. The mind is not a substance, in which the perceptions inhere. That notion is as unintelligible as the Cartesian, that thought or perception in general is the essence of the mind. We have no idea of substance of any kind, since we have no idea but what is derived from some impression, and we have no impression of any substance either material or spiritual. We know nothing but particular qualities and perceptions. As our idea of any body, a peach, for instance, is only that of a particular taste, colour, figure, size, consistence, & c. So our idea of any mind is only that of particular perceptions, without the notion of anything we call substance, either simple or compound. The second principle, which I proposed to take notice of, is with regard to Geometry. Having denied the infinite divisibility of extension, our author finds himself obliged to refute those mathematical arguments, which have been adduced for it; and these indeed are the only ones of any weight. This he does by denying Geometry to be a science exact enough to admit of conclusions so subtile as those which regard infinite divisibility. His arguments may be thus explained. All Geometry is founded on the notions of equality and inequality, and therefore according as we have or have



not an exact standard of that relation, the science itself will or will not admit of great exactness. Now there is an exact standard of equality, if we suppose that quantity is composed of indivisible points. Two lines are equal when the numbers of the points, that compose them, are equal, and when there is a point in one corresponding to a point in the other. But tho this standard be exact, tis useless; since we can never compute the number of points in any line. It is besides sounded on the supposition of finite divisibility, and therefore can never afford any conclusion against it. If we reject this standard of equality, we have none that has any pretensions to exactness. I find two that are commonly made use of. Two lines above a yard, for instance, are said to be equal, when they contain any inferior quantity, as an inch, an equal number of times. But this runs in a circle. For the quantity we call an inch in the one is supposed to be equal to what we call an inch in the other: And the question still is, by what standard we proceed when we judge them to be equal; or, in other words, what we mean when we say they are equal. If we take still inferior quantities, we go on in infinitum. This therefore is no standard of equality. The greatest part of philosophers, when askd what they mean by equality, say, that the word admits of no definition, and that it is sufficient to place before us two equal bodies, such as two diameters of a circle, to make us understand that term. Now this is taking the general appearance of the objects for the standard of that proportion, and renders our imagination and senses the ultimate judges of it. But such a standard admits of no exactness, and can never afford any conclusion contrary to the imagination and senses. Whether this question be just or not, must be left to the learned world to judge. Twere certainly to be wishd, that some expedient were fallen upon to reconcile philosophy and common sense, which with regard to the question of infinite divisibility have wagd most cruel wars with each other. We must now proceed to give some account of the second volume of this work, which treats of the Passions. Tis of more easy comprehension than the first; but contains opinions, that are altogether as new and extraordinary. The author begins with pride and humility. He observes, that the objects which excite these passions, are very numerous, and seemingly very different from each


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other. Pride or self-esteem may arise from the qualities of the mind; wit, good-sense, learning, courage, integrity: from those of the body; beauty, strength, agility, good mein, address in dancing, riding, fencing: from external advantages; country, family, children, relations, riches, houses, gardens, horses, dogs, cloaths. He afterwards proceeds to find out that common circumstance, in which all these objects agree, and which causes them to operate on the passions. His theory likewise extends to love and hatred, and other affections. As these questions, tho curious, could not be rendered intelligible without a long discourse, we shall here omit them. It may perhaps be more acceptable to the reader to be informed of what our author says concerning free-will. He has laid the foundation of his doctrine in what he said concerning cause and effect, as above explained. Tis universally acknowledged, that the operations of external bodies are necessary, and that in the communication of their motion, in their attraction and mutual cohesion, there are not the least traces of indifference or liberty. Whatever therefore is in this respect on the same footing with matter, must be acknowledged to be necessary. That we may know whether this be the case with the actions of the mind, we may examine matter, and consider on what the idea of a necessity in its operations are founded, and why we conclude one body or action to be the infallible cause of another. It has been observed already, that in no single instance the ultimate connection of any object is discoverable either by our senses or reason, and that we can never penetrate so far into the essence and construction of bodies, as to perceive the principle on which their mutual influence is founded. Tis their constant union alone, with which we are acquainted; and tis from the constant union the necessity arises, when the mind is determined to pass from one object to its usual attendant, and infer the existence of one from that of the other. Here then are two particulars, which we are to regard as essential to necessity, viz. the constant union and the inference of the mind, and wherever we discover these we must acknowledge a necessity. Now nothing is more evident than the constant union of particular actions with particular motives. If all actions be not constantly united with their proper motives, this uncertainty is no more than what may be observed every day in the actions of matter,



where by reason of the mixture and uncertainty of causes, the effect is often variable and uncertain. Thirty grains of opium will kill any man that is not accustomed to it; tho thirty grains of rhubarb will not always purge him. In like manner the fear of death will always make a man go twenty paces out of his road; tho it will not always make him do a bad action. And as there is often a constant conjunction of the actions of the will with their motives, so the inference from the one to the other is often as certain as any reasoning concerning bodies: and there is always an inference proportioned to the constancy of the conjunction. On this is founded our belief in witness, our credit in history, and indeed all kinds of moral evidence, and almost the whole conduct of life. Our author pretends, that this reasoning puts the whole controversy in a new light, by giving a new definition of necessity. And, indeed, the most zealous advocates for freewill must allow this union and inference with regard to human actions. They will only deny, that this makes the whole of necessity. But then they must show that we have an idea of something else in the actions of matter; which, according to the foregoing reasoning, is impossible. Thro this whole book, there are great pretentions to new discoveries in philosophy; but if anything can in title the author to so glorious a name as that of an inventor, tis the use he makes of the principle of the association of ideas, which enters into most of his philosophy. Our imagination has a great authority over our ideas; and there are no ideas that are different from each other, which it cannot separate, and join, and compose into all the varieties of fiction. But notwithstanding the empire of the imagination, there is a secret tie or union among particular ideas, which causes the mind to conjoin them more frequently together, and makes the one, upon its appearance, introduce the other. Hence arises what we call the apropos of discourse: hence the connection of writing: and hence that thread, or chain of thought, which a man naturally supports even in the loosest reverie. These principles of association are reduced to three, viz. Resemblance; a picture naturally makes us think of the man it was drawn for. Contiguity; when St. Dennis is mentioned, the idea of Paris naturally occurs. Causation; when we


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think of the son, we are apt to carry our attention to the father. Twill be easy to conceive of what vast consequence these principles must be in the science of human nature, if we consider, that so far as regards the mind, these are the only links that bind the parts of the universe together, or connect us with any person or object exterior to ourselves. For as it is by means of thought only that anything operates upon our passions, and as these are the only ties of our thoughts, they are really to us the cement of the universe, and all the operations of the mind must, in a great measure, depend on them.

A strange and anonymous pamphlet was published in 1740 and the ensuing quest to determine its authorship has, several centuries later, given rise to an intriguing and fascinating series of events. This has unfolded through detailed and meticulous bibliophilic analyses and has generated heated and controversial debate about the identity of the author of the pamphlet. The protagonists in this intellectual adventure are two celebrated economists John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa who both lived and taught in Cambridge and were united by a close intellectual relationship as well as a profound friendship. And, naturally, a further major protagonist is David Hume himself, who is discovered to have been the nameless author of the pamphlet. The reconstruction of this intriguing episode, put forward in this compact and highly readable book, offers the opportunity to revisit the original Introduction on which the two Cambridge economists placed their joint signatures. It was published by Cambridge University Press in 1938, in an edition that also featured the facsimile text of Humes short essay, which had lain in obscurity for almost two hundred years. Today, the pamphlet is reproduced in The Enigma of the Treatise.

KEY FEATURES Economics is often regarded as technical, dry and not easy to read; however, this book, as its title The Enigma of the Treatise suggests, is far from dry and difcult to read. It follows the intricate trail of investigation into the mystery of who wrote the Treatise, when and why. The book is of interest not only to economists but also to historians and, in general, to bibliophiles for whom the controversial history of a given publication is, in itself, a subject worthy of investigation. Although the philosophy of Hume is well known, the text discussed in this book is relatively poorly known, having lain in oblivion for several centuries until its revival by the two famous economists mentioned in the book (Keynes and Sraffa). The examination of the two economists contribution to the debate on the Abstract provides a hitherto neglected insight into their cultural and bibliophilic interests. In contrast to many lengthy tomes on economics, which at times sacrice the pleasure of reading to academic seriousness, The Enigma of the Treatise is short yet penetrating and ensures readability that stimulates the interest of students; the book also reaches out (without sacricing scholarly investigation) to the broader reading public of non-practitioners.

ISBN 978-1-909287-40-2

9 781909 287402

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