In this short book, Hume expounds his major contribution to philosophy: the problem of induction. However, he never uses that term. Rather, he argues (convincingly) against the possibility of any rational proof for the uniformity of the laws of nature. All of this, which takes about two thirds of the book, is marvellous. The final third of the book, in which Hume tackles a number of religious arguments, is less interesting. His argument against miracles is particularly odd, given the above, as it is based in part on the uniformity of the laws of nature.
The first thing to note, then, is that there are many subjects covered by the Treatise that are not discussed in the Enquiry, namely: - arguments concerning space and time, including an amusing assault on geometry; - a dismissal of a unified, immaterial self; - many proposals concerning passions, morality and society.
Together, these comprise about half of the Treatise, but they are not the best half.
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, but not necessarily to any advantage: where the Treatise is digressive and sometimes opaque, the Enquiry is concise and clear. (Hume, it seems, improved as a writer in the intervening years). The Enquiry is also shorter and cheaper than the Treatise, and the Oxford Classics edition includes a bundle of other, interesting material: Hume's abstract of the Treatise, a selection of related extracts from his other writings, and a useful glossary. For all of these reasons I'd recommend starting any investigation of Hume with the Enquiry. You may find it is enough for you. If not, you may find, like I did, that it helps you follow the Treatise.
D. Hume is a great philosopher. But, this book is not an easy read. If you are not familiar with Hume, probably it is is not a good start. The language is a bit hard and some sentences are quite lengthy. Although, Peter Millican's introduction provides a good background for the book, yet still the book requires a considerable level of patience and endurance on the reader's side, which should not be too surprising.
I do never mean that you should not buy the book, but i remind that you need to plough through to get a grip on it. Probably, it would be a good idea to listen a couple of articulate lectures about Hume on you-tube before you plunge into Hume's books. Once you get familiarize yourself with Hume and his main arguments, then the book may make sense.
Fundamental text without which no library of philosophical classics is complete. A good introduction by Prof of Philosophy at Hertford College Oxford and expert on Hume. The text is humane, charitable yet radical in its conclusions... buy it and broaden your horizons.
What a beautiful book, it clears away all the unnecessary struts of modern philosophy. it also awakens Kant from his dogmatic slumber and sadly, makes him create new struts.
Hume had some interesting thoughts, like: chance is but an event that we do not know the cause of; causation has nothing to do with the world, but is a projection of our own behaviour and becomes a habit formed by induction; an advocation of a 'mitigated' scepticism which does not inspire to certainty, but limits our scientific ambitions to subjects within the scope of experience - and there is so much more.
Please read this book, not because of its vast importance, and because it prepares you for Kant, but because it makes you think.
A perfect substitute for the more expensive version. Has everything you could need plus extra information and comments on the book. Would recommend it to anyone who needs or wants to read Hume's enquiries. Was exactly what I needed for my University course.