The Hume Society
photo of archive shelving
Portrait of David Hume (detail), Wm. Holl the Younger (1833)

Member News Since 2010

Miguel A. Badía Cabrera Edits Robert Wallace’s A Letter from a Moderate Freethinker to David Hume Esquire Concerning the Profession of the Clergy (Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, Ann Arbor, 2013)

This remarkable pamphlet by Robert Wallace (1697-1771), prominent member of the Church of Scotland, promoter of learned institutions, man of letters, and Hume’s amiable controversialist, had not been published in its entirety. As it was the case with many other students of Hume’s philosophy and the history of the Scottish Enlightenment, the editor first became acquainted with this work when, while majoring in philosophy, he read the several passages that Ernest Mossner transcribed and included in his groundbreaking and dazzling “intimate biography,” The Forgotten Hume, Le bon David (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943), and his monumental work, The Life of David Hume (London and Edinburgh: Nelson, 1954; 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980). It is because of the considerable philosophical value and originality of this manuscript that it has been transcribed in full and offered to the public with an Introduction, Chronology of Wallace’s Life, and Notes. This edition also includes an Appendix with a transcription of a fragment of essay 24, “Of National Characters,” in the third edition (1748) of Hume’s Essays, Moral and Political, which contains the observations about the clergy that Wallace found objectionable.

Miguel A. Badía Cabrera is Professor (Retired) of Philosophy at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras.


 

Alessio Vaccari Publishes La virtù etica: filosofia morale contemporanea a partire da Hume (Virtue Ethics: Contemporary Moral Philosophy starting from Hume) (Le Lettere, 2012)

Il dibattito più recente nella filosofia morale ha rimesso al centro il ruolo del carattere e il lessico delle virtù. Questo nuovo scenario viene generalmente considerato come un ritorno ai temi dell'etica antica: l'assunzione è che per contrastare i modelli teorici fondati sulla ragione e sui doveri è necessario tornare a rileggere Aristotele o richiamarsi agli insegnamenti della filosofia ellenistica. Attraverso un confronto diretto con i classici del pensiero morale moderno (Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche), l'autore sostiene invece che questa svolta filosofica può essere condotta a partire da David Hume. Incentrata su uno studio della natura simpatetica e relazionale degli esseri umani e inserita sullo sfondo di una concezione nuova della società costruita sui valori dell'uguaglianza e della libertà, la filosofia di Hume rappresenta infatti non solo la prima e più importante etica moderna della virtù, ma è in grado anche di proporsi come un'alternativa teorica capace di offrire soluzioni feconde ai problemi sollevati dall'etica filosofica contemporanea.

The role of character and the vocabulary of the virtues have recently returned to the centre of philosophical debate. This new scenario is usually regarded as a return to the ethical themes of the ancient world: the assumption is that, to be able to question the theoretical models founded on reason and duties, we need to go back to reading Aristotle or appeal to the teachings of Hellenistic philosophy. However, through a direct consideration of the classics of modern moral philosophy (Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche), the author claims that David Hume can be the starting-point for this philosophical new direction. Centred on the study of the sympathetic and relational nature of human beings, against a background of a new conception of society built on the values of freedom and equality, Hume’s philosophy is not only the first and most important example of modern virtue ethics, but can also offer a theoretical alternative whose solutions are relevant to the problems raised by contemporary philosophical ethics.

Alessio Vaccari is Fellow at La Sapienza University of Rome.


 

Lorenzo Greco Guest Edits Special Issue of Iride Devoted to David Hume and Contemporary Ethics (2012)

Lorenzo Greco is Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Oxford and Junior Research Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford


 

Lorenzo Greco and Alessio Vaccari Publish Hume Readings (Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2012)

Hume Reading raccoglie gli interventi di alcuni tra i più illustri esperti internazionali del pensiero di David Hume e discute, da un punto di vista sia storico sia teorico, gli aspetti centrali della sua filosofia. I quattordici saggi che compongono il volume sono stati presentati negli ultimi dieci anni alle conferenze “Rome Humean Readings,” organizzate dal Gruppo di Ricerca sull’Illuminismo Britannico dell’Università di Roma “La Sapienza.”

Hume Readings gathers the contributions of some of the most distinguished international experts in the thought of David Hume, and discusses the central aspects of his philosophy from both a historical viewpoint and a theoretical one. The fourteen essays which compose the volume were all presented in the conferences “Rome Humean Readings,” organized by the Research Group on British Enlightenment of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” in the last ten years.

Lorenzo Greco is Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Oxford and Junior Research Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford

Alessio Vaccari is Fellow at La Sapienza University of Rome.


 

Ángela Calvo de Saavedra Publishes El carácter de la ‘verdadera filosofía’ en David Hume (Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 2012)

Preocupado por el descrédito de la filosofía en el ámbito de la sociedad moderna, y convencido de la importancia de que recuperase su voz en la esfera pública—interesada en la configuración de una sociedad pluralista y tolerante en perspectiva cosmopolita—David Hume dedicó su vida a un proyecto crítico y constructivo: la concepción de la ‘verdadera filosofía’, capaz de combatir la falsa filosofía, en su época, aliada con la superstición. Este libro articula el giro decisivo que da Hume en la concepción y práctica de la filosofía a partir de tres metáforas: la conquista de la capital, el anatomista y el pintor y el viaje escéptico. En la primera, se precisan el tema y el método de la ‘verdadera filosofía’. En la segunda, se destaca el carácter práctico y comunicacional de la filosofía, orientada por un interés ético-político. Y en la tercera, se plantea la figura novedosa de una ciencia escéptica, que rehabilita la doxa como génesis y fuente de legitimación de todo conocimiento. La ‘verdadera filosofía’ tiene una dimensión normativa que la autora explora en la construcción del punto de vista moral general e intersubjetivo, cuyos artífices son la simpatía y la conversación. A partir de la reconstrucción ampliada del diálogo que Husserl sostuvo con el pensamiento de Hume, este trabajo propone comprender la ciencia de la naturaleza humana como fenomenología detrascendentalizada, animada por el actuar comunicacional. En este horizonte, la ‘verdadera filosofía’ se interpreta como filosofía razonable.

Concerned about the discredit of philosophy in the context of modern soc ieties and convinced of the importance of the recovery of its voice in the public sphere in order to shape a pluralistic, tolerant and cosmopolitan society, David Hume dedicated his life to a critical and constructive project: the conception of ‘true philosophy’, able to undermine false philosophy, in his time allied with superstition. This book articulates Hume’s decisive turn in the conception and practice of philosophy by means of the analysis of three metaphors: the conquest of the capital, the anatomist and the painter and the skeptic voyage. The first one establishes the subject matter and method of ‘true philosophy’. The second one highlights the practical and communicative character of philosophy, oriented by ethical and political interests. And the third one proposes the novel notion of a skeptical science which rehabilitates the doxa as knowledge's origin and source of legitimacy. ‘True philosophy’ has a normative dimension that the author explores in the achievement of the moral point of view—both general and intersubjective—due to sympathy and conversation. Reconstructing Husserl’s dialogue with Hume’s thought, this work understands the science of human nature as de-transcendentalized phenomenology, animated by communicative action. In this perspective, ‘true philosophy’ is interpreted as reasonable philosophy.

Ángela Calvo de Saavedra is Professor of Philosophy at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota.


 

Charlotte R. Brown and William Edward Morris publish Starting with Hume (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012)

Starting with Hume presents a new introduction to the philosophy of David Hume, guiding students through the key concepts of his work by examining the overall development of his ideas. Hume is widely regarded as the greatest English thinker in the history of philosophy. His contributions to a huge range of philosophical debates are as important and influential now as they were in the eighteenth century. Covering all the key concepts of his work, Starting with Hume provides an accessible introduction to the ideas of this hugely significant thinker. Clearly structured according to Hume's central ideas, the book leads the reader through a thorough overview of the development of his thought, resulting in a more thorough understanding of the roots of his philosophical concerns. Offering comprehensive coverage of Hume's philosophical method, the book explores his contributions to philosophy of mind, causation, the foundation of ethics, natural virtues and philosophy or religion. Crucially the book introduces the major philosophical movements and thinkers whose work proved influential in the development of Hume's thought, including Nicolas Malebranche, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. This is the ideal introduction for anyone coming to the work of this hugely important thinker for the first time.

Charlotte R. Brown is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Illinois Wesleyan University, USA.

William Edward Morris is Professor of Philosophy at Illinois Wesleyan University, USA.


 

Miguel A. Badía Cabrera publishes Enlightenment and Calvinism in the Philosophy of David Hume (Caravan Books, 2012)

In this book Miguel A. Badía Cabrera (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras) presents an understanding of Hume’s philosophy as a kind of Enlightened, or “mitigated” Calvinism. This view is opposed to the traditional interpretation, according to which the great Scottish thinker entirely repudiated his Presbyterian faith out of his allegiance to another, albeit secular and scientific faith inspired by Newton and founded upon the empirical method of reasoning. Along the lines of this Enlightened Calvinism, chief features of Hume’s thought, especially his conception of the relationship between religion, science, morality, and theology, are studied alongside, and contrasted with that of two eminent philosophers, René Descartes and Francis Hutcheson, who significantly influenced him in various ways, and two Enlightened thinkers, George Campbell and Robert Wallace, Moderate clergymen of the Church of Scotland on whom Hume exerted a living influence and who argue in writing against his negative assessment of some main cognitive claims of natural theology and both the human worth and dangerousness of religion, Christianity in particular.

November 2012, 408 pp. Cloth, ISBN 978-0-88206-119-1 / USD 75.00
To Order by E-Mail: sfandr@msn.com    To Order by Phone: (480) 575-9945


 

Stefanie Rocknak publishes Imagined Causes: Hume’s Conception of Objects (The New Synthese Historical Library, Dordrecht: Springer, 2012)

This book provides the first comprehensive account of Hume’s conception of objects in Book I of A Treatise of Human Nature. What, according to Hume, are objects? Ideas? Impressions? Mind-independent objects? All three? None of the above? Through a close textual analysis, Rocknak shows that Hume thought that objects are imagined ideas. But, she argues, he struggled with two accounts of how and when we imagine such ideas. On the one hand, Hume believed that we always and universally imagine that objects are the causes of our perceptions. On the other hand, he thought that we only imagine such causes when we reach a “philosophical” level of thought. This tension manifests itself in Hume’s account of personal identity; a tension that, Rocknak argues, Hume acknowledges in the Appendix to the Treatise. As a result of Rocknak’s detailed account of Hume’s conception of objects, we are forced to accommodate new interpretations of, at least, Hume’s notions of belief, personal identity, justification and causality.

Stefanie Rocknak is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hartwick College


 

Hume Society Members featured in The Continuum Companion to Hume

The Continuum Companion to Hume, ed. Alan Bailey and Dan O’Brien (Continuum, 2012) is a comprehensive and accessible guide to Hume's life and work includes 21 specially commissioned essays, written by a team of leading experts, covering every aspect of Hume's thought. The Companion presents details of Hume's life, historical and philosophical context, a comprehensive overview of all the key themes and topics apparent in his work, including his accounts of causal reasoning, scepticism, the soul and the self, action, reason, free will, miracles, natural religion, politics, human nature, women, economics and history, and an account of his reception and enduring influence. This is an essential reference tool for anyone working in the fields of Hume Studies and Eighteenth-Century Philosophy.

Alan Bailey is a Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wolverhampton and has taught in the Philosophy departments at Keele University and the University of Birmingham, UK.

Dan O'Brien is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Associate Lecturer at the Open University, UK.


 

Livia Guimarães Guest Edits Special Issue of Kriterion - Revista de Filosofia Devoted to Hume (July-December, 2011)

Livia Guimarães is Professor of Philosophy at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais


 

P. J. E. Kail on the legacy of Hume (November, 2011)

Listen to the University of Chicago Philosophy Podcast.

P. J. E. Kail is University Lecturer in the History of Modern Philosophy, St Peter’s College, Oxford University


 

John P. Wright's Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature: An Introduction is now available as an e-book.

David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40) presents the most important account of skepticism in the history of modern philosophy. In Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), John P. Wright examines the development of Hume's ideas in the Treatise, their relation to eighteenth-century theories of the imagination and passions, and the reception they received when Hume published the Treatise. He explains Hume's arguments concerning the inability of reason to establish the basic beliefs which underlie science and morals, as well as his arguments showing why we are nevertheless psychologically compelled to accept such beliefs. The book will be a valuable guide for those seeking to understand the nature of modern skepticism and its connection with the founding of the human sciences during the Enlightenment.

John P. Wright is Professor of Philosophy at Central Michigan University


 

Lorne Falkenstein publishes An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Broadview Press, 2011)

Hume's Enquiry examines the experiential and psychological sources of meaning and knowledge, the foundations of reasoning about matters that lie beyond the scope of our sensory experience and memory, the nature of belief, and the limitations of our knowledge. The positions Hume takes on these topics have been described as paradigmatically empiricist, sceptical, and naturalist and have been widely influential and even more widely decried.

The introduction to this edition discusses the Enquiry's origin, evolution, and critical reception, while appendices provide examples of contemporary responses to Hume. For those members interested in a complimentary examination copy, please contact Justin Carter at Broadview Press at jcarter@broadviewpress.com.

Lorne Falkenstein is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario


 

Angela Coventry interviewed by Ann Arbor Science and Skepticism Society (August 12th, 2011)

Listen to the Five-Part Audio Interview on: Empiricism and Skepticism; the Copy Principle; the Design Argument and Belief in Miracles; and the Hume Society.

Angela Coventry is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University


 

Mark Spencer's David Hume and Eighteenth-Century America is now available in paperback

Mark Spencer's David Hume and Eighteenth-Century America (University of Rochester Press, 2010) explores the reception of David Hume's political thought in eighteenth-century America. It presents a challenge to standard interpretations that assume Hume's thought had little influence in early America. Eighteenth-century Americans are often supposed to have ignored Hume's philosophical writings and to have rejected entirely Hume's "Tory" History of England. James Madison, if he used Hume's ideas in Federalist No. 10, it is commonly argued, thought best to do so silently--open allegiance to Hume was a liability. Despite renewed debate about the impact of Hume's political ideas in America, existing scholarship is often narrow and highly speculative. Were Hume's works available in eighteenth-century America? If so, which works? Where? When? Who read Hume? To what avail? To answer questions of that sort, this books draws upon a wide assortment of evidence. Early American book catalogues, periodical publications, and the writings of lesser-light thinkers are used to describe Hume's impact on the social history of ideas, an essential context for understanding Hume's influence on many of the classic texts of early American political thought.

Mark Spencer is Associate Professor of History at Brock University


 

Thomas Holden publishes Spectres of False Divinity: Hume's Moral Atheism (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Spectres of False Divinity presents a historical and critical interpretation of Hume's rejection of the existence of a deity with moral attributes. In Hume's view, no first cause or designer responsible for the ordered universe could possibly have moral attributes; nor could the existence (or non-existence) of such a being have any real implications for human practice or conduct. Hume's case for this 'moral atheism' is a central plank of both his naturalistic agenda in metaphysics and his secularizing program in moral theory. It complements his wider critique of traditional theism, and threatens to rule out any religion that would make claims on moral practice.

Thomas Holden situates Hume's commitment to moral atheism in its historical and philosophical context, offers a systematic interpretation of his case for divine amorality, and shows how Hume can endorse moral atheism while maintaining his skeptical attitude toward traditional forms of cosmological and theological speculation.

Thomas Holden is Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

 

The Hume Society receives institutional support from Azusa Pacific University and from St. Olaf College.
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