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David Hume, a Treatise of Human Nature Essay

  • Submitted by: jacque61
  • on August 22, 2015
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Length: 2,765 words

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Below is an essay on "David Hume, a Treatise of Human Nature" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

Although David Hume wrote on a number of different subjects, it would appear that his predominant interest was in the field of morals. It is easy to understand why this was true since morality as he conceived it lies in the background of all human activities. Man is not only a thinking being, as was emphasized by the Greek philosophers, but he is also a social and an active being and it is with this phase of his life that morality is concerned. It is involved in the political affairs of individuals and nations, and the same is true with reference to the social and religious life of any community of persons. Nothing is more important in the life of an individual or in the life of a nation than the moral standards by which life is governed. It was for reasons of this kind that Hume was especially anxious to make careful inquiry concerning the origin and nature of moral principles. Indeed it can be said that the subject of morality was closely related to all of the topics with which his various published works were concerned.
In the Treatise of Human Nature, which was Hume's first important publication, the first section of the book was devoted to an analysis of the human understanding. The purpose of this analysis was from one point of view only a preliminary step toward a more adequate interpretation of man's moral beliefs. Even in the History of England, which was written at a later date, there is presented an abundance of evidence to show that it is the morals of a nation which more than any other single factor determines its destiny. The significance of moral standards is emphasized again in the Essays on moral and political topics, which were so influential in establishing Hume's reputation as a scholar and an author. Finally, in the two books which he wrote on the subject of religion, the implications with reference to morals are especially prominent. The Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Moralswas an attempt to place before the public in a more attractive...

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