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Hume, David

(1711–76). Scot. philos. and hist.; b. Edinburgh; studied law; tutor to George Johnstone, 3d marquess of Annandale; secy. to Gen. James Sinclair (d. 1762); keeper of Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; mem. Brit. embassy in Paris; undersecy, of state for the N dept.

Developed a philos. of skepticism (Humism) which restricted knowledge to experience of ideas and impressions; denied ultimate verification of truth.

According to Hume, cognition results from impressions of sensation and reflection, simple ideas come from simple impressions, complex ideas are either copies of complex impressions or mental combinations of simple ones. Knowledge is comparison of ideas.

Held that the “necessary connection” on which theory of cause-effect is based is not demonstrable (see also Cause, 5). Against the cosmological (or causal) argument for the existence of God, Hume argued that causal connections hold only bet. observable states, thus excluding God. He used Epicurean arguments of atomic materialism against teleological (or design) proofs for God's existence. This led defenders of theism (e.g., I. Kant*) to use moral arguments. In the 20th c. some philosophers have found contradictions in Hume's arguments on cause.

Works include A Treatise of Human Nature; Essays, Moral and Political; Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (later called An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding); An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals; The Natural History of Religion; Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

R. F. Anderson, Hume's First Principles (Lincoln, Nebr., 1966); A. H. Basson, David Hume (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Eng., 1958); A. G. N. Flew, Hume's Philosophy of Belief (New York, 1961); R. H. Hurlbutt III, Hume, Newton, and the Design Argument (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1965); R. Metz, David Hume: Leben und Philosophie (Stuttgart, 1968). EL


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