David Hume Study Guides

  • A Treatise of Human Nature

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    A Treatise on Human Nature is a philosophical treatise by David Hume published in 1739-1740. Hume takes a skeptical approach to the question of human nature, opting to examine the question through empirical observations of human psychology. The work is divided into three books: "Of Understanding," a study of cognition, "Of the Passions," an examination of free will and emotions, and "Of Morals," about justice and morality. Each of the books further taxonomizes and expounds upon different types of perception, emotion and reasoning.

  • Concerning the Principles of Morals

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    Concerning the Principles of Morals is a philosophical treatise by David Hume that identifies the impetus for moral judgment and the criteria employed in such judgment. Contrary to many ethicists of his time and central to his thesis, Hume asserts that morals derive from sentiments rather than reason. Employing an empirical approach, Hume devises a theory of sympathy, rejecting Hobbes' belief in psychological egoism. Hume argues that moral judgment ultimately concerns people's character rather than actions and goes on to reject ascetic Christian values he deems useless to society.