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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
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Apr 21, 11

bookshelves: philosophy
Read in November, 1970

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 which dispensed with much of the material from the Treatise, in favor of clarifying and emphasizing its most important aspects. For example, Hume's views on personal identity, do not appear. However, more vital propositions, such as Hume's argument for the role of habit in a theory of knowledge, are retained.
This book has been highly influential both in the years that immediately followed up until today. Immanuel Kant pointed to it as the book which woke him from his self-described "dogmatic slumber" The Enquiry is widely regarded as a classic in modern philosophical literature in part because David Hume is one of the greatest prose stylists of the English language.
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