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Hume: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 12 Oct 2000

3.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (12 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854063
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 0.8 x 10.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Sir Alfred Ayer, formerly Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford from 1959 to 1978, was a Fellow of Wolfson College Oxford, and of the British Academy. He was the author of many well-known philosophical works, including Language, Truth and Logic, The Central Questions of Philosophy, and Russell. His autobiographical Part of My Life was published as an Oxford Paperback in 1978.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hume is presented here as inconsistent and ambivalent in an almost equally ambivalent and unpalatable style which, is not at all accessible to the beginner. The text is plodding and overly personalized. Ayer presents mostly his own views and disagreements and leaves Hume's position in the dark - unpresented that is. It is also very slippery like a desert mirage. As soon as you get pulled into the author's argument and presentation it pulls away from you and disappears leaving you feeling disappointed. It reads like a professional academic philosophical article and not like an introductory text which is meant to generate enthusiasm and interest and illuminate a highly noted philosopher. Disappointing and boring.
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If you don't know anything about Hume, this is NOT the place to start. The author rambles endlessly on tangential details and Hume's own points get lost in the muddle.
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Format: Paperback
Another fairly demanding read from Oxford's Past Masters series repackaged and reissued as a Very Short Introduction. Here it's Ayer's 1980 treatment of David Hume. It's worth noting this because any complaint from beginners about the use of the word 'introduction' should be directed at the publisher rather than the author who I think has done a magnificent job with this beautifully precise study.

Following a short biographical first chapter, Ayer quickly delves into an exposition of Hume's philosophy, focusing on his aims and methods, his assessment of bodies and selves, his analysis of cause and effect, and his thoughts on morals, politics and of course religion. Rather than focusing on a single work at a time, he switches back and forth between the Treatise, the Enquiry, and so on, extracting and assimilating passages seamlessly into his own examination.

Some have complained that Ayer intrudes too heavily with his analysis, shoehorning in too many of his own thoughts and ideas. Personally I didn't have a problem with it. Ayer was an important philosopher in his own right, and it was inevitable that any scholarly treatment of Hume's ideas would include their vulnerabilities and demand interpretation and critique. On balance, I don't think he overstepped the mark.

This may be a short read, but it isn't a light one, and beginners (I count myself as one) should be prepared to concentrate and even make notes to get the most out of it. If you were expecting Hume for Dummies, you'll likely feel overwhelmed and disappointed. It's worth persevering though. I came away with not only a deeper understanding of Hume's own philosophy but also a capacity to actually reflect on the ideas themselves.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great starting point for an interaction with the works of Hume. It is written in a format of a long essay that briefly touches upon biographical details of Hume's work. Secondly, it discusses all the major works of Hume and places them in both historical and philosophical context of the period. The language of this book is clear and to the point. I was particularly interested in the economic ideas of Hume and used this book as a reference point for further investigation. I highly recommend this book to both philosophy students and those working outside the field. It is certainly worth the time and money.
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Fascinating introduction to the mans works, although Ayer's writing style is very hard to get to grips with and I found the extracts from Hume's work much easier to get my head around (have a dictionary on stand-by if you attempt to read this). Off the back of this I think I'll invest in some of Hume's writings as he's still currently my favourite philosopher.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book but it's a bit of a struggle in parts (especially the chapter on Causation). It feels a bit out of place to include it as part of the excellent "Very Short Introductions" series as it's based on a series of lectures from 1979 and seems written for a different audience than more recently commissioned titles in that series. Still worth a read mind you but not quite what I was expecting.
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