Humes Enlightenment Tract: The Unity and Purpose of An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding

Paperback | February 19, 2004

byStephen Buckle

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Hume's Enlightenment Tract is the first full book-length study for forty years of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. The Enquiry has, contrary to its author's expressed wishes, long lived in the shadow of its predecessor, A Treatise of Human Nature. Stephen Buckle presentsthe Enquiry in a fresh light, and aims to raise it to its rightful position in Hume's work and in the history of philosophy. He argues that the Enquiry is not, as so often assumed, a mere collection of watered-down extracts from the earlier work. It is, rather, a coherent work with a unifiedargument; and, when this argument is grasped as a whole, the Enquiry shows itself to be the best introduction to the lineaments of its author's general philosophy. Buckle offers a careful guide through the argument and structure of the work. He shows how the central sections of the Enquiry offer acritique of the dogmatic empiricisms of the ancient world (Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Aristotelianism), and set in place an alternative conception of human powers based on the sceptical principles of habit and probability. These principles are then put to work, to rule out philosophy's metaphysicalambitions and their consequences: religious systems and their attendant conception of human beings as semi-divine rational animals. Hume's scepticism, experimentalism, and naturalism are thus shown to be different aspects of the one unified philosophy - a sceptical version of the Enlightenmentvision.

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Hume's Enlightenment Tract is the first full book-length study for forty years of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. The Enquiry has, contrary to its author's expressed wishes, long lived in the shadow of its predecessor, A Treatise of Human Nature. Stephen Buckle presentsthe Enquiry in a fresh light, and aims to rais...

Stephen Buckle is at The Australian Catholic University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:366 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.79 inPublished:February 19, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199271143

ISBN - 13:9780199271146

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Table of Contents

1. Approaching the Text1. Clearing the Ground2. Circumstances and Aim3. Experimentalism and Scepticism2. The Argument1. Of the Different Species of Philosophy2. Of the Origin of Ideas3. Of the Association of Ideas4. Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding5. Sceptical Solution of these Doubts6. Of Probability7. Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion8. Of Liberty and Necessity9. Of the Reason of Animals10. Of Miracles11. Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State12. Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy3. ConclusionHume's Enlightenment TractBibliography, Index

Editorial Reviews

`Buckle's work is undoubtedly an important addition to the recent growth in scholarly writing on the Enquiry ... the only single-author work to offer both a critical overview of the Enquiry, a systematic general interpretation, and a section-by-section commentary on its contents... He succeedsin the important task of establishing the Enquiry as an independently significant philosophical work, central to the interpretation of Hume's thinking as a whole, and his book should help ensure that the work remains at the forefront of the new critical thinking about Hume's epistemology.'Paul Stanistreet, Journal of Scottish Philosophy