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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: with Hume's Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature and A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh (Hackett Classics)

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3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  12,577 Ratings  ·  271 Reviews
A landmark of Enlightenment thought, Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is accompanied here by two shorter works that shed light on it: A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh, Hume's response to those accusing him of atheism, of advocating extreme skepticism, and of undermining the foundations of morality; and his Abstract of A Treatise of Human ...more
Paperback, 142 pages
Published November 15th 1993 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1748)
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William I would recommend either this or Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Either way, read Hume. He's a titan of empiricism.

Community Reviews

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Manny
Nov 14, 2014 Manny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who's ever wondered about the nature of truth
I had seen so many references to Hume's Enquiry that I almost thought I had read it; but, when I actually got around to opening the book, I found as usual that things were not quite as I had imagined. I was not surprised by his relentless scepticism, or by his insistence on basing all reasoning on empirical evidence. These qualities, after all, have become proverbial. I was, however, surprised to find that I hadn't correctly grasped the essence of his argument concerning the nature of knowledge. ...more
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب یکی از سه کتابِ ارزشمندی است که از دلِ مطالبِ کتابِ اصلیِ زنده یاد <دیوید هیوم> بزرگترین فیلسوفِ تاریخ انگلستان، با عنوان "در طبیعت انسان" بیرون آمده است که اینگونه برای ریویو نویسی من نیز ساده تر و بهتر است و میتوانم در مورد نوشته های دیگر از این فیلسوفِ خردگرا، برایتان بنویسم
عزیزانم، هدفِ <هیوم> در این کتاب این است تا ثابت کند که ایده ها در اصل تفاوتی با تجربیات ندارند. چراکه ایده هایِ پیچیده از ایده هایِ ساده تر بیرون می آیند و ایده هایِ ساده تر نیز از اح
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Abailart
Apr 08, 2011 Abailart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Returning to an old friend! The first text I was given to study as a philosophy undergraduate, and what pleasure to revisit.

I'm not sure that Hume changed my thinking as a young man so much as brought the delight of recognition. The sweeping away of superstition, fantasy systems, spiritual mumbo jumbo and so on has never for me disabled a propensity towards reflection or deep attachment to a cleaner, less encumbered mystery. Kant, too, found his religious faith strengthened by such clarity.

I was
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Maica
Oct 05, 2015 Maica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ashvajit
Aug 30, 2012 Ashvajit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the straightforward, no-nonsense style of this famous philosopher. Good though he is, however, his vision of life is that of pure empiricism - that all real knowledge is gained only through sense contact. In other words he appears to completely disregard a vital aspect of the human consciousness, i.e. the possibility of gaining knowledge through contemplating the mind itself, for instance through the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Furthermore he discounts the possibility of re ...more
Ali Reda
Aug 15, 2014 Ali Reda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Hume discusses the distinction between impressions and ideas. By "impressions", he means sensations, while by "ideas", he means memories and imaginings. According to Hume, the difference between the two is that ideas are less vivacious than impressions. For example, the idea of the taste of an orange is far inferior to the impression (or sensation) of actually eating one. Writing within the tradition of empiricism, he argues that impressions are the source of all ideas. Hume's empiricism consist ...more
Rowland Bismark
Jun 03, 2010 Rowland Bismark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bertrand Russell famously summarized Hume's contribution to philosophy, saying that he "developed to its logical conclusion the empiricist philosophy of Locke and Berkeley, and by making it self-consistent made it incredible." Hume is remarkable in that he does not shy away from conclusions that might seem unlikely or unreasonable. Ultimately, he concludes that we have no good reason to believe almost everything we believe about the world, but that this is not such a bad thing. Nature helps us t ...more
Erick
Feb 12, 2015 Erick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I didn't particularly enjoy this book. Hume is both pretentious and self-indulgent. While he makes a good case for experience being a necessary prerequisite for knowing effect from cause, he also contradicts himself variously and accords to experience more authority than he accredits it in certain other parts of this book.
That a certain effect has happened numerous times before is no guarantee that it will happen again -true enough! Hume says that it is simply "custom" to credit any particular
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Chris
Jan 25, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Hume eviscerates the belief that we can understand anything about the world on a rational and certain basis. At his most optimistic, Hume argues that all knowledge beyond direct observation is probable rather than certain. This was an important chastenment of Enlightenment rationalism, and is generally accepted today.

But Hume's argument seems to go much farther, and the more optimistic later sections are the result of his either not recognizing the strength of his earlier arguments or deliberatl
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Mohadese
Oct 19, 2016 Mohadese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
تا تونستم کِشش دادم، ولی خب تموم شد متأسفانه! متن پیچیده نیست و آسانفهم است. به غیر از بخش اول کتاب، که فکر کنم خودِ هیوم هم خیلی دوستاش نداشته باشه، بقیهی بخشها عالی هستند. بحث معروف علیت هم در این کتاب آمده است. در بخش ده در رد معجزه بحث کرده است که خب جالب بود. خواندناش رو به هرکسی که یه ذره علاقه به فلسفه داشته باشه پیشنهاد میکنم. مخصوصاً اینکه ترجمهی خیلی خوبی هم داره. (قبلاً سعی کردم کتاب اخلاق هیوم رو به انگلیسی بخونم. و بعد از سه صفحه منصرف شدم. فهمیدن انگلیسی قرن هجدهمی خیلی سخت است.)ا ...more
Andrew
A few years ago I had, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. I was completely unsatisfied with the explanations for existence/purpose that I had been given by parents/teachers/friends. It terrified me that no one had ever written about this concerns (obviously people had, I was just never introduced to them). I felt like an idiot for allowing my mind to dwell on concepts such as the basis of human understanding.

It's nice, it's calming to know that extremely intelligent people, and ma
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Yann
Jul 23, 2011 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Qu’ai je découvert dans cet ouvrage de Hume que je n’ai pas lu dans l’ouvrage éponyme de Locke ? Juste quelques détails, mais qui ont leur prix. Hume embrasse les mêmes thèmes que son compatriote, mais en les survolant par allusion, avec plus de grâce et d’aisance, sans doute, mais aussi bien moins de rigueur et de scrupules. Où sont passés cette inquiétude de définir précisément chaque terme, de construire l’ouvrage suivant un plan, de prévenir chaque objection, de détruire toute ombre de doute ...more
Andrew
What I like about Hume is the skepticism and empiricism. What I don't like about Hume is the doubting of causality. Too bad this is pretty much thought of as the Hume thing.

Hume was a very, very necessary step in the evolution of philosophy. He overcame the irrational rationalism of Descartes and Berkeley, and paved the way for German idealism, which of course led to Schopenhauer, Marx, Nietzsche, etc. And really, I find Hume's brand of Enlightenment thought so much more palatable than Kant's or
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Adam
Oct 16, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a bit pointless to try to comment on this book, especially considering how much scholarship there is on Hume and how widely studied he still is by the intellectually curious and in Philosophy departments. He is an amazingly advanced thinker for the time, and is still important today, partly because although he doesn't seem to like Spinoza or any of the Rationalists, most of the basis for contemporary psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience is found in these two great philosophers' wr ...more
Kheyreddine Hadri
Oh, Hume! You eloquent, diligent, deep motherfucker! If you were alive, I'd marry your brainy ass.

Wait! Am I becoming like Salafists who admire their scholars? I am!
But fuck it! At least Hume teaches critical thinking and denies dogmatic approaches.

I love this book. And it requires a second, thorough read. For that the amount of wisdom being printed in this book is too much for my girly-side.

I have learned, not only the otherworldly style of writing (which is not what Hume was aiming to be ta
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Eric 'siggy'
Oct 07, 2011 Eric 'siggy' rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics
Hume's Enquiry is a landmark document in epistemology, the study of what distinguishes justified beliefs from unjustified ones. It's about sixty pages, and is a rewriting of the first part of his more monolithic Treatise of Human Nature (1737), which he started writing at about my age (23!) and published three years later.

In short, the book aligns very well with the thinking of modern secular humanism -- and parts of it cover very similar ideas to what you'd find in contemporary skeptic and athe
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mohab samir
Jan 05, 2017 mohab samir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: فلسفة
ما هو اليقين البشرى ؟؟ إنه السراب . السراب الذى سيظل الإنسان يسعى ورائه وإن عدد أسمائه فقد يكون هو المطلق أو الحقيقة أو اللانهائى ......
لكن إذا كان هذا اليقين سرابا فماذا يفعل الإنسان ؟ هذا هو جوهر ما يرمى إليه هيوم فى هذا البحث حسب إستنتاجى وفهمى .
يبدأ هيوم مفنداً لطبيعة المعرفة البشرية وقدراتها وحدودها ثم يوضح دور التجربة ليضع لها حدودا لا لتكون هى الأساس الوحيد للمعرفة الإنسانية كما يزعم لوك وغيره من التجريبيين . ولكن لتكون على الأقل الأساس العملى لهذه المعرفة
وكذلك نجده يفند قصور الشك المطلق
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White
Aug 26, 2009 White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is perhaps the most sophisticated book on philosophy that has ever been published. In its core it touches on psychology, physics, and the physiology of the brain, biological claims to survival, and then some. This book portrays the science of philosophy.

As I go through my career, references to Hume come up in my thoughts. As I read psychology books, physics books, and such, references to Hume come up in my thoughts. Connections to Hume are everywhere. No other author has been so much o
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Jeff Crompton
Jun 14, 2012 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because a quote from it has long been one of the foundations of my thinking: "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence." That being said, I can't say that I completely followed Hume's reasoning - I have only dabbled in philosophy, and I'm not used to reading such densely-argued writing. The Enquiry is probably a book I should read again in order to gain a better grasp, but I can't see that happening anytime soon. I was able to appreciate Hume's emphasis on re ...more
James
Dec 24, 2009 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This is David Hume's summary of his central doctrines and themes of his empiricist philosophy. It was a revision of an earlier effort, A Treatise of Human Nature, published anonymously in London in 1739–40. Hume was disappointed with the reception of the Treatise, which "fell stillborn from the press," as he put it, and so he tried again to disseminate a more developed version of his ideas to the public by writing a shorter and more polemical work.
The end product of his labours was the Enquiry w
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Caroline
Sep 21, 2009 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After his three-volume Treatise of Human Nature dropped like a rock to the bottom of the pool of British philosophic writing, Hume set out to write a briefer, more accessible version -- the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. One of the early points it makes is that most endeavors to write about the nature of thought are hopeless and nearly impossible to understand. With that disclaimer, Hume sets out to contradict himself by writing lucidly about, while candidly acknowledging the severe lim ...more
Þróndr
Sep 19, 2013 Þróndr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: featured, philosophy
It is rare that I read an entire book twice in a row, but I made an exception for Hume's Enquiry. Yes, he’s that good. – I wasn’t quite as happy with the Kindle version of this book though, since there are no direct links in the text to Hume's own notes - which doesn’t exactly allow for a smooth reading experience.
The Oxford World’s Classics edition includes the Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature, the essay Of the Immortality of the Soul, excerpts from letters and from the Dialogues conce
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Roxanne Russell
When I made the final decision to pursue a PhD in Instructional Technology, I read this book in the months before starting as a way of plunging into the study of education. I don't think I could have chosen any better- excellent!

My book notes:

Section 1: On the different species of philosophy

In this section Hume distinguishes philosophy for the sake of philosophy from applied philosophy. He wishes to argue for a more scientific approach to exploring "human understanding."
p. 2 If they can discover
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Sam
Mar 27, 2012 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This intro to an essay I wrote on this book pretty much sums it up:
David Hume delves into all doctrines of life in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, unearthing the fallibility of all human-made dogmas. His stance lends no credence to the predictability of the future, and instead infringes upon the reliability of any human experience outside of the experience itself. Hume sees every cause and effect as an isolated happenstance, and even with similarities in experiences, places no stoc
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Dr. A
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Read this and reviews of other classics in Western Philosophy on the History page of www.BestPhilosophyBooks.org (a thinkPhilosophy Production).
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David Hume’s An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a more succinct and polemical version of his earlier work A Treatise of Human Nature. In this grand work of epistemology, Hume begins by making a key distinction between impressions (e.g., sensory, emotive, affective) and ideas (thoughts, beliefs, or memories) that are created through the o
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Brandt
Mar 23, 2016 Brandt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ruminate on this, David Hume began penning his immense volume A Treatise of Human Nature, when he was only 23 years old, and it was published three years later. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is really a revising of the first part of A Treatise of Human Nature. The consensus is that Hume amended some of the material so that people could understand it better. He was not wrong. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume's prose is masterful, and appeals to common thinking. When

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meelad
Nov 03, 2016 meelad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب محشری است
در قالب ۱۲ بخش/مقاله نوشته شده که هر کدام موضوعی متفاوت (هرچند کم و بیش مرتبط) دارند و میشود جدا جدا خواندشان. مقالهها اغلب کوتاه هستند و بعضیها که طولانیترند به دو یا سه قسمت تقسیم شدهاند. این قالببندی برای من گریزان از ادبیات غیرداستانی خیلی مناسب و بسیار موجب امتنان بود :)
بیان هیوم به نظرم خیلی متین و صادقانه بود و باعث شد هر جا که با او موافق نبودم ـ و چنین جاهایی بودند ــ به دل نگیرم! بخشهای مربوط به تداعی ایدهها و برهان علیت خصوصاً جالبند و گواهی میدهم که بیدلیل معروف نشدهان
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مسعود حسینی
ترجمه شاید دقیق، ولی آزارنده ست! جملات بس که طولانی اند آدم اول جمله را فراموش می کند. تلاش شده اسلوب نگارش و سبک ادبی هیوم به فارسی منتقل شود. این، خوانش را سخت کرده. باید دست کم دو بار کتاب را به دقت خواند و بعد، از دفعه سوم به فهم استدلال های هیوم پرداخت.
فونت کتاب، صفحه بندی، و غیره خیلی عالی است. اما کاش مترجم تلاش بیشتری برای برگرداندن اسلوب نگارش هیوم به اسلوب فارسی می کرد تا مطالعه اثر آسان تر شود.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 Dave Peticolas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Hume's classic philosphical investigation into the nature and limits of human knowledge and its acquisition.

Carlos Recamán
Jan 27, 2016 Carlos Recamán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hume no creía en los milagros, pero el hecho de que, tres siglos después de la publicación de este libro, sigan existiendo las religiones organizadas, debe tratarse de uno.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Combine 2 28 Oct 30, 2012 03:15PM  
  • Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays
  • Discourse on Metaphysics & Other Essays
  • Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
  • Ethics
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Naming and Necessity
  • Meno
  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
  • The Problems of Philosophy
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David Hume (/ˈhjuːm/; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) was a Scottish historian, philosopher, economist, diplomat and essayist known today especially for his radical philosophical empiricism and scepticism.

In light of Hume's central role in the Scottish Enlightenment, and in the history of Western philosophy, Bryan Magee judged him as a philosopher "widely regarded as the greates
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“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.” 117 likes
“Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” 78 likes
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