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A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

David Hume
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Oct 1985 Penguin Classics
One of the most significant works of Western philosophy, Hume's Treatise was published in 1739-40, before he was thirty years old. A pinnacle of English empiricism, it is a comprehensive attempt to apply scientific methods of observation to a study of human nature, and a vigorous attack upon the principles of traditional metaphysical thought. With masterly eloquence, Hume denies the immortality of the soul and the reality of space; considers the manner in which we form concepts of identity, cause and effect; and speculates upon the nature of freedom, virtue and emotion. Opposed both to metaphysics and to rationalism, Hume's philosophy of informed scepticism sees man not as a religious creation, nor as a machine, but as a creature dominated by sentiment, passion and appetite.

Frequently Bought Together

A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects (Penguin Classics) + An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Oxford World's Classics) + Critique of Pure Reason (Penguin Modern Classics)
Price For All Three: £28.71

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (31 Oct 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432442
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.1 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


, a substantial introduction, extensive annotations, a glossary, a comprehensive index, and suggestions for further reading.

A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), David Hume's comprehensive attempt to base philosophy on a new, observationally grounded study of human nature, is one of the most important texts in Western philosophy. It is also the focal point of current attempts to understand 18th-century philosophy.

The Treatise first explains how we form such concepts as cause and effect, external existence, and personal identity, and to form compelling but unconfirmable beliefs in the entities represented by these concepts. It then offers a novel account of the passions, explains freedom and necessity as they apply to human choices and actions, and concludes with detailed explanations of how we distinguish between virtue and vice and of the different kinds of virtue. Hume's Abstract of the Treatise, also included in the volume, outlines his 'chief argument' regarding our conception of, and belief in, cause and effect.

The texts printed in this volume are those of the critical edition of Hume's philosophical works now being published by the Clarendon Press. The volume includes a substantial introduction explaining the aims of the Treatise as a whole and of each of its ten parts, extensive annotations, a glossary of terms, a comprehensive index, and suggestions for further reading. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David hume (1711-76) devoted himself from early youth to 'philosophy and great learning'. A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) was not well received on publication, but is now viewed as his masterpiece.

Ernest Campbell Mossner is the author of many books on Hume. He has received fellowships from Columbia, Guggenheim and Fulbright, and has held the post of Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Texas.

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First Sentence
ALL the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds, which I shall call IMPRESSIONS and IDEAS. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the classics 12 Dec 2012
This is one of the classic works of western philosophy. I would do this treatise no justice by trying to summarise Hume's work, much better to read it for yourself. But I may add that it is well written, fairly understandable and at points almost witty. For the readers making their first inroads into philosophy, this may not be a bad place to start.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overpriced 11 Mar 2011
By cat91
As a student on a budget, I thought it was pretty cruel of my university to insist on this edition. The editor's introduction is informative but not exactly inspiring, and the other 'extras' (annotations, glossary, references, index) I would have thought of as par for the course with a text like this.
The annotation system is a nightmare to navigate as it doesn't work with numbers or page references, only superscript daggers - you have to skip to the back of the book, find the relevant section and then skim until you find the right word reference. It's particularly annoying when the only enlightenment you get is 'Hume discussed this in the last section' or something along those lines.
Finally, because this is a relatively recent edition (or at least more so when I bought it in September 2010) it was difficult to come by any second hand copies. My verdict? Don't fork out for this if you can get a different edition cheaper; the supposed perks in this really aren't worth the money.
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29 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fuse of a great revolution in Philosophy. 25 Sep 2000
By A Customer
The german philosopher Kant used to say that was David Hume who had waked him up from the sleep of the dogmatic metaphysics. Nowhere but in this book we can feel such a force, increased by the vigour of the youth. In the peak of a english tradition in empirism, with origins in William of Ockham, Hume attacks in his Treatise each one of the fundamentals thesis of the traditional metaphysiscs: he denies the immortality of the soul, the certainty of a external world, the reality of the space, the existence of substances and (that's his most famous insight) the necessity of the law of causality. All these remarks will prepare the soil to the great revolution of Kant as well as the epistemology of Sir Karl Popper.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not as described - avoid! 31 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The product page for this book mentions an excellent index, notes, abstract, and glossary. Mention is made of Hume scholar Ernest Campbell Mossner's contribution. The product received is just the text of the Treatise. There is no index, notes, abstract, glossary, commentary or indeed even page numbers (except where someone has scribbled them in pencil on the first couple of pages; helpfully, they've also used the same pencil to underline what they consider key phrases from the first section. This is essentially freely available text, bound, and with none of the claimed information included. To add insult to injury, it's also obviously a second hand copy.
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9 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Being a fuss-pot 24 Jun 2007
By Chuckie
Having only ordered this work, I cannot contribute an opinion of quality or content. Sad as I am, this will comprise part of my holiday reading. My contention is that the work is described as a major contribution to the tome of English philosophy. Most will be aware of it as the major work of the nascent Scottish Enlightenment.

Sorry to be so pernickety.
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