Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals” as Want to Read:
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,426 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
David Hume (April 26, 1711 - August 25, 1776)[1] was a Scottish philosopher and historian. He is often considered one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. Although in recent years interest in Hume's works has centered on his philosophical writing, it was as a historian that he gained his initial fame.
Paperback, 184 pages
Published February 8th 2007 by Book Jungle (first published January 1st 1751)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
It had been some time since I had last visited 221B Baker Street, and when I entered I found my friend engrossed in the study of a slim volume. "Watson!" he said, without lifting his eyes from the text. "Pray tell me, are you by any chance familiar with Mr. Hume's Enquiry into the Principles of Morals?"

I could not hide a smile of modest self-congratulation. "Indeed, Holmes," I said, "I know the book very well. I wrote an essay on it during my final year at Oxford, and was fortunate enough to be
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hume is the moral philosopher who is most recognizable as a fellow modern human being. In his short autobiographical "My Own Life", he says that the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals is "incomparably the best" of all his writings (though he admits that he isn't the one to judge that).

Reading this for the first time, I was surprised at how little "philosophy" is in it--by that, I mean how little complicated argumentation there is. Most of the arguments are short and direct: against som
Roy Lotz
Well, this was disappointing.

I say this because Hume’s first Enquiry was brilliant, unforgettably so. There, we see Hume as one of the most subtle, most penetrating, and most profound thinkers in Western history. Here we see him don the hat of a common moralist:

“Instance, briefly; come, instance” (As You Like It)

Hume apparently shared the English love for instances. He fills up entire chapters with example after example of moral and immoral acts. He drones away like a pontificating prefect. It’s
John Yelverton
It would be one thing if all Hume did was ask the question, instead, he gives some quite pathetic answers that professors still cram down student's throats.
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1751 and considered by the Scottish enlightenment philosopher David Hume himself to be the best and most important of his works, this enquiry explores morality empirically, studying its basis in both reason and what Hume labeled “sentimentalism,” a sympathy-based function of intuitive feelings. It was Hume’s contention that morality can never be based on rationality alone. In fact, most moral decisions are derived from such intuitions, subsequently fine-tuned and justified by reason ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A modern people might skim through Hume's book overlooking the boldness of his statement, that the sense of morality does not have a sacred origin, but is born purely out of profane considerations. I have encountered this "divine origin of conscience" many times in Christianity literature, even in the liturgy of one of the contemporaries of Hume, Tikhon of Zadonsk.

The proof of God's existence, as Hume argued, is not the sense of morality. In a time when press freedom was not a common sense and
Dec 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ridiculous. How convenient that the best customs and habits are exactly those Hume finds most pleasing. The arch skeptic in his works on metaphysics and science, becomes the arch conservative in a book devoid of even an iota of cultural skepticism.

Marts  (Thinker)
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Hume investigates how moral judgments are made...
Paris Sanders

Hume utilizes an empirical method to explain the basis of moral understanding, and his analysis mirrors scientific study through the observation of human traits, and the corresponding public reception of those traits. In this sense, unlike his contemporaries, Hume believes in a sort of “projectivism," in that his theory of morality does not presuppose the conditions of the world, but rather, suggests that morality exists as a product of human values, and is thus exhibited through individual pre
Kyle van Oosterum
Hume applies the scientific method to morality, looking at a case-by-case basis. Nietzsche and future moral thinkers certainly resonated with Hume's theory that it is emotion which determines moral judgment. A contemporary reader might think his conclusions to be truisms, but the philosophical climate in Hume's lifetime ensured that his work would be consistently controversial and original.
My favorite parts were the appendices. I'd recommend just reading those.
johanna asterisk
trying to teach this to my students who have a middle school vocabulary and understanding of english .. oh, why did i say yes?!
Everything here seemed either super obvious or wrong, but it's a good book if you keep in mind how non-obvious it was at the time. Hume is really bad at commas though.
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On reste un peu sur sa faim. Mais j'ai bien aimé la comparaison des moeurs des anciens avec celle des modernes !
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather than nailing down his definitions, Hume begins with what he says are observations of fact. From this is drawn a moral theory based on sentiments. We feel something is a virtue or vice, despite the fact that reason will often judge more specifically afterwards. In fact, reason alone will never lead to a clear moral theory. What exactly is virtuous seems to come down, mostly, to utility. Our moral sentiments can't all be clearly explained according to utility, but for all intents and purpos ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good God. David Hume is amazing. I think he must be the sanest, most reasonable, engaging, penetrating writer I have ever read. Reading him is like reading to flashes of lightning. With each flash, an idea is revealed and you are left wondering why someone hadn't see it before: it is all so clear and obvious.

In this book Hume lays the foundations for what Bentham would later turn into Utilitarianism, but that doesn't really capture the heart of it: Hume recognizes that the bedrock of our behavio
Read Taylor
Short enough to read on a single long flight, and easy to understand but certainly not ground-breaking or daring. Were I not already close to his point of view he would not convince me; that said it is clearly discussed if not exciting.
Robert Marshall
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Achmad Soefandi
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perdebatan antara empirisme dan rasionalisme mungkin masih terjadi sampai saat ini. Rasionalisme menganggap pengetahuan manusia di dapatkan melalui rasio dan pengalaman inderawi hanya sekedar kabut yang tidak bisa dijadikan patokan kebenaran akan pengetahuan. Berbeda dengan rasionalisme, empirisme justru menekankan pada pengalaman inderawi sebagai satu satunya proses pembentukan kesadaran dan pengetahuan, rasio hanya mengekor pada pengalaman inderawi. Empirisme, berasal dari bahasa Yunani Empere ...more
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), according to David Hume himself, "fell dead-bron from the press" he decided to lay out the two main themes of this huge work - epistemology and morality - in two new works. In An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748), Hume gives an overview on his epistemology, while in An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751) he sets out his theory of human emotions.

Hume's main thoughts on ethics are easy to summarize. He thinks human nature is the o
Hume's moral philosophy, though preferable to the childish and ridiculous approach of his contemporary Kant, is incredibly tedious reading when compared to his other work, and far less philosophically astute or argumentatively valid.

The whole project is a bit strange. He seems to accept much of what Hobbes argued, but then reduce what Hobbes thought was the foundation and basis of ethics to simply a prerequisite for morality to exist. Then he argues the famous case re: shared sentiment, etc., w
Bob Nichols
In his Inquiry, Hume argues that affections provide the motive force to follow "sounder principles." Boiled down to their essence, affections constitute self-interest. As our self-interest conflicts with that of others, reason requires restraint. Sympathy links reason and affections as we are able to see that others pursue their own self-interest and, therefore, self-restraint is necessary. In this way, Hume deduces morals and public virtue from self-love.

In a way, Hume is aligned with Plato (re
Shafira Hexagraha
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What else do we mean by saying that one is rich, the other poor? And as regard or contempt is the natural consequence of those different situations in life, it is easily seen what additional light and evidence this throws on our preceding theory, with regard to all moral distinctions."

Salah satu buku dengan logika paling rapi dan konsekuensial yang pernah dibaca. Sahabat Adam Smith ini menuliskan gagasan besar dengan sederhana. Kalau yang sudah pernah baca Sen, Bentham, atau Holmes (maupun b
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When scholars discuss Hume's moral theory, their discussion usually centers on the passions and theory of morality on his earlier work, The Treatise on Human Nature. Hume, however, in the Advertisement for the Enquiry, states that Enquiry offers a corrective to some mistakes he made as a youth in the Treatise, and that the Enquiry should be regarded as his settled view on morality.

Hume covers quite a bit of ground in a relatively short book: the virtue of benevolence, self-love, justice, and the
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hume is such an optimist, it's both adorable and gross. All philosophies, religions, treatises, works, etc. require a leap of faith, and if you accept that our inborn, instinctive sentiment for our fellow human beings form the basis of our morality, then Hume's work is internally consistent. While I think it's a nice idea, and I would love to live in such a world, it doesn't exist on a macroscopic scale. Is this leap of faith more convincing than the one required for religious texts? Yes, it's e ...more
José Monico
In essence, morality is the combination of reason and sentiment (feeling). Approbation being the ultimate foundation of not only our ethical decisions, but the mechanics of society. Because of this, morality is a function of society. It's utility to that web is its fundamental reason for existing. And best shown when man and woman utilize their moral tools focused on the betterment of the opposite; with an emphasize on attaining lasting happiness through the world's simple pleasures. Leaving suc ...more
Richard Newton
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This was Hume's favourite of all his writing. For me personally, I much prefer the relevant parts of the Treatise. Although this is an easier read, it is less philosophically enlightening - or at least I find it harder to get to the philosophical core. However, like all of Hume's writing it is a rather fabulous book.

There are many versions of this book, but it is Beauchamp's introduction which makes it worth buying this specific version. It is a really useful summary, not only of this second enq
"In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the question cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty, than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human ...more
Much like Hume's previous works, An Enquiry Concering the Principles of Morals attempts to reduce a common philosophical quandary to mere common sense through empirical observations. Hume believes that all morality can be reduced to human sentiment, our emotions, and the utility which our actions provide.

Ultimately, Hume resolves much of his contemporary conflicts and objections but under more scrutiny his conclusions have their own problems.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب خیلی خوب بود، اما امان از مرتضی مردیها. نه اینکه ترجمهاش بد باشد، اما بدون اغراق یک سومِ کتاب توضیحات اضافیای است که درون قلاب و وسط متن اصلی آورده است. خیلی زیاد و سطحی هستند. حسابی روی اعصاباند ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Metaphysics of Morals (Texts in the History of Philosophy)
  • Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
  • Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong
  • Philosophical Essays
  • A Letter Concerning Toleration: Humbly Submitted
  • Principia Ethica (Philosophical Classics)
  • Theological-Political Treatise
  • Word and Object
  • Naming and Necessity
  • A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation
  • Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
  • The Methods of Ethics
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • The Concept of Mind
  • The Philosophy of Logical Atomism
  • The Principles of Morals and Legislation
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
More about David Hume...
“Historians, and even common sense, may inform us, that, however specious these ideas of perfect equality may seem, they are really, at bottom, impracticable; and were they not so, would be extremely pernicious to human society. Render possessions ever so equal, men's different degrees of art, care, and industry will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community. The most rigorous inquisition too is requisite to watch every inequality on its first appearance; and the most severe jurisdiction, to punish and redress it. But besides, that so much authority must soon degenerate into tyranny, and be exerted with great partialities; who can possibly be possessed of it, in such a situation as is here supposed? Perfect equality of possessions, destroying all subordination, weakens extremely the authority of magistracy, and must reduce all power nearly to a level, as well as property.
We may conclude, therefore, that in order to establish laws for the regulation of property, we must be acquainted with the nature and situation of man; must reject appearances, which may be false, though specious; and must search for those rules, which are, on the whole, most useful and beneficial.”
“Disputes with men, pertinaciously obstinate in their principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons, entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy, from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit and ingenuity, superior to the rest of mankind. The same blind adherence to their own arguments is to be expected in both; the same contempt of their antagonists; and the same passionate vehemence, in enforcing sophistry and falsehood. And as reasoning is not the source, whence either disputant derives his tenets; it is in vain to expect, that any logic, which speaks not to the affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder principles.” 3 likes
More quotes…