Synopses & Reviews
David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding
is the definitive statement of the greatest philosopher in the English language. His arguments in support of reasoning from experience, and against the "sophistry and illusion"of religiously inspired philosophical fantasies, caused controversy in the eighteenth century and are strikingly relevant today, when faith and science continue to clash.
The Enquiry considers the origin and processes of human thought, reaching the stark conclusion that we can have no ultimate understanding of the physical world, or indeed our own minds. In either sphere we must depend on instinctive learning from experience, recognizing our animal nature and the limits of reason. Hume's calm and open-minded skepticism thus aims to provide a new basis for science, liberating us from the "superstition" of false metaphysics and religion. His Enquiry remains one of the best introductions to the study of philosophy, and his edition places it in its historical and philosophical context.
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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is an important 18th century work by Scottish empiricist and philosopher David Hume. As a follow up and attempt to simplify his earlier effort in A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume works to introduce his philosophical concepts to a more well-educated European readership. In this work Hume discusses the limited powers of human understanding, the role of free will in consideration with determinism and the weak foundation of religion. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is highly recommened for those who are interested in major philosophical writings and those who are interested in the writings of David Hume.
About the Author
Peter Millican is founder and director of the Leeds Electronic Text Centre and editor of the journal Hume Studies. He recently edited Reading Hume on Human Understanding.