David Hume

Why David Hume Is So Hot Right Now By Cody Delistraty

David Chalmers, co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, once undertook something odd for a philosopher: He conducted an international poll. In November 2009, he and his then-PhD advisee, David Bourget, asked over 2,500 of their colleagues—professors and graduate students alike—among other things, with which dead thinker they most identified.

The results, published in 2013, showed that philosophers’ favorite was, overwhelmingly, David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher infamous, and now famous, for being skeptical not just about the claims of religion, but also the existence of the self, a subject that’s still scientifically unsettled.

So it was with auspicious timing that James Harris—currently Head of Department and Reader in the History of Philosophy at the University of Saint Andrews, in Scotland—wrote Hume: An Intellectual Biography, published by Cambridge University Press in October of last year. It’s unprecedented. Harris calls it “the first comprehensive account of all of what Hume did,” adding, “Nobody had really written a book about all of it.” In the 600-plus-page book, he touches on the major events of Hume’s personal life (notably that he began his greatest work, A Treatise of Human Nature, when he was 23 years old) but they’re not the focus; he’s more attuned to Hume as a philosopher—of human nature, politics, economics, religion, and history.

As a result, Harris dispels the various misconceptions surrounding Hume’s religious beliefs, his politics, and his moral philosophy. In our conversation about these topics, Harris illuminated why Hume’s ideas are so attractive—if not crucial—even today.

Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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