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on 12 December 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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on 16 August 2015
This marvellous work falls neatly into two halves. In the first, Hume mounts a devastating, rational assault on rationalism; in the second, he explains human actions in terms of passions and sympathy.

Hume begins by observing that all of our ideas are founded on experience. He then uses this observation like a spanner, to dismantle the arguments for the traditional objects of philosophy, such as substance and the immaterial soul. Most famously, he exposes the problem of induction, although he doesn't use that word himself. It is raised as part of a longer, magnificent examination of our understanding of causation.

Whilst all of these arguments are interesting, not all are entirely convincing: some of those on space and time are based on an assumption that reality must match our ideas of it, which leads to some pretty tenuous conclusions. Some of Hume's points are also a little hard to understand, not because they are too abstract, but because the rolling, convivial eloquence in which most of the book is written sometimes escapes him. A little reflection is normally enough to work out what he's talking about.

In the second half of the book, Hume builds his own system. He proposes a mechanism for our passions based on pain, pleasure and sympathy. (For a modern reader it is tempting to judge this in the light of neuroscience, but to do so is to lean on a conceptual system, whereas Hume is trying to derive truths from life as it is experienced.) He then argues for a compatibilist interpretation of free will, that our sense of morality and much else is based on sentiment, and that societies are created out of self-interest. Some of the mechanisms he proposes seem rather contrived, most are plausible, but none are as thrilling as the preceding destruction.

Eight years after publishing the Treatise, Hume returned to what he regarded as its most important ideas in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Oxford World's Classics). Whilst most philosophers consider the Treatise to be his major work, Hume regarded the Enquiry as the definitive statement of his philosophy. You may wonder, then, which of the two to read. If so, the first thing to note is that there is much in the Treatise that is not in the Enquiry, namely:
- Hume's arguments concerning space and time, including an amusing assault on geometry;
- his dismissal of a unified, immaterial self;
- everything on passions, morality and society.

The areas covered by both works are:
- the empirical nature of ideas;
- causation, including induction, power and probabilities (i.e., ideas of which we are less than certain);
- the reasoning of animals;
- free will.

Most, if not all, of these areas are covered in more detail in the Treatise. However, where the Treatise is digressive and sometimes opaque, the Enquiry is concise and clear. It is also shorter and cheaper. For these reasons the Enquiry is the ideal book with which to start. You may find it is enough for you. If not, you may find, like I did, that it helps you follow the Treatise.
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on 11 March 2011
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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on 25 September 2000
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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on 17 January 2016
Exactly as described, and arrived in pristine condition. Would recommend!
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on 31 January 2013
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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on 14 January 2016
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on 23 April 2015
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on 12 March 2015
Hello I have just downloaded
A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to Introduce the Experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 31 Oct 1985
by David Hume
and got this instead. What's the problem?
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on 24 June 2007
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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