David Hume: Historical Thinker, Historical Writer

Paperback | September 23, 2015

byMark G. Spencer

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This volume provides a new and nuanced appreciation of David Hume as a historian. Gone for good are the days when one can offhandedly assert, as R. G. Collingwood once did, that Hume “deserted philosophical studies in favour of historical” ones. History and philosophy are commensurate in Hume’s thought and works from the beginning to the end. Only by recognizing this can we begin to make sense of Hume’s canon as a whole and see clearly his many contributions to fields we now recognize as the distinct disciplines of history, philosophy, political science, economics, literature, religious studies, and much else besides. Casting their individual beams of light on various nooks and crannies of Hume’s historical thought and writing, the book’s contributors illuminate the whole in a way that would not be possible from the perspective of a single-authored study.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are David Allan, M. A. Box, Timothy M. Costelloe, Roger L. Emerson, Jennifer Herdt, Philip Hicks, Douglas Long, Claudia M. Schmidt, Michael Silverthorne, Jeffrey M. Suderman, Mark R. M. Towsey, and F. L. van Holthoon.

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This volume provides a new and nuanced appreciation of David Hume as a historian. Gone for good are the days when one can offhandedly assert, as R. G. Collingwood once did, that Hume “deserted philosophical studies in favour of historical” ones. History and philosophy are commensurate in Hume’s thought and works from the beginning to t...

Mark G. Spencer is Associate Professor of History at Brock University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.67 inPublished:September 23, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271061553

ISBN - 13:9780271061559

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Method of Citation

Introduction: Hume as Historian (Mark G. Spencer)

1 Hume and Ecclesiastical History: Aims and Contexts (Roger L. Emerson)

2 Artificial Lives, Providential History, and the Apparent Limits of Sympathetic Understanding (Jennifer A. Herdt)

3 “The Spirit of Liberty”: Historical Causation and Political Rhetoric in the Age of Hume (Philip Hicks)

4 “The Book Seemed to Sink into Oblivion”: Reading Hume’s History in Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Mark Towsey)

5 Reading Hume’s History of England: Audience and Authority in Georgian England (David Allan)

6 Medieval Kingship and the Making of Modern Civility: Hume’s Assessment of Governance in The History of England (Jeffrey M. Suderman)

7 Hume and the End of History (F. L. van Holthoon)

8 David Hume as a Philosopher of History (Claudia M. Schmidt)

9 Fact and Fiction: Memory and Imagination in Hume’s Approach to History and Literature (Timothy M. Costelloe)

10 Hume’s Historiographical Imagination (Douglas Long)

11 The “Most Curious & Important of All Questions of Erudition”: Hume’s Assessment of the Populousness of Ancient Nations (M. A. Box and Michael Silverthorne)

Selected Bibliography

List of Contributors

Index

Editorial Reviews

“For the past century, David Hume’s philosophy has been extensively studied. But in his own time and for more than a century thereafter, he was best known as a historian. His six-volume History of England set the standard for secular history in the late eighteenth century. Hume’s History fell from scholarly grace in the late nineteenth century and is now largely ignored. Mark Spencer’s book promises to resurrect interest in Hume’s historical writings, which should result ina more balanced understanding of Hume’s thought.“. . . David Hume: Historical Thinker, Historical Writer recognizes a scholarly lacuna, makes initial strides toward filling it, and promises to inspire additional work in the area.”—Daniel E. Flage, The Review of Metaphysics