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A Treatise of Human Nature

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,385 ratings  ·  172 reviews
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), David Hume's comprehensive attempt to base philosophy on a new, observationally grounded study of human nature, is one of the most important texts in Western philosophy. It is also the focal point of current attempts to understand 18th-century philosophy. The Treatise first explains how we form such concepts as cause and effect, extern ...more
Paperback, 434 pages
Published 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1740)
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Lorenzo Bruno You should read the Enquiry first, in my opinion; as it summarizes the important parts of Hume's thought.…moreYou should read the Enquiry first, in my opinion; as it summarizes the important parts of Hume's thought.(less)
Felix Montpelier the treatise is made up of three "books", each of the latter two building on what came before. you'll get the most out of it if you start with #1.…morethe treatise is made up of three "books", each of the latter two building on what came before. you'll get the most out of it if you start with #1.(less)

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Jun 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, Philosophy Buffs
Shelves: alreadyread
"I was awoken from my dogmatic slumber." -Kant, on reading Hume.

In my opinion, this is probably one of the most thoroughly logical and most disturbing books ever written. Hume's use of reason completely dissects that habituation that we call "intuition", and moreover, shows how inductive reasoning is completely without merit. Science goes out the window, and the prospect of having any knowledge of the world leaves with it. The resulting nihilism will send chills down your spine. This is why ever
Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

Thanks a lot, man! You and your fancy book just had to go and wake Immanuel Kant from his "dogmatic slumber", didn't you? And every single fucking time I pick up a philosophical tome like Critique of Pure Reason I have to be reminded of how lazy I am for not thoroughly reading through all of the British empiricists. Don't get me wrong, from what I've read of yours, you seem like a very precise philosopher, but now I have to read you with scorn. Look at what yo
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature is not a breezy book. From the first page, it plunged me into a fervid mode of double-layered analysis in which my struggle to comprehend the text was mirrored by efforts to track my personal reactions to whatever content I was able to wrest from it. Early on, my attempts felt futile––understanding occluded by my intellectual limitations and relative lack of outside support. My experience improved as I pressed on, however. Slowly, mysteriously, sentences a ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The real ‘scandal’ is not what Kant referred to in his 800 page rebuttal to Hume’s belief of skepticism about the real world, or the ‘scandal’ that Heidegger referred to that we were still debating the phenomenal world as such, the real scandal is that more people don’t read books like this one. Hume and this book offer more insights about today’s world and almost everything I see around me seems to want to make me stupid and accept ‘alternative facts’ as real, undermine science and its understa ...more
Duffy Pratt
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I just wrote a long review of this book, and Goodreads or the internet ate it. Grrrr... Here are the high points of that review.

Three years to read this. Of that, almost the full time was stuck on the first two parts of the second book, which seemed both dull and pointless. It ended up that it was just dull, but necessary to understand his ideas on morality.

First book - Understanding. It blows up the idea that there's a foundation in reason for induction, causation, the persistence of objects, a
Julia Adams
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yes good
I decided to read this book after a long walk that I took while listening to a Philosophy Bites episode titled "Who's your favourite philosopher?" In it, Nigel Warburton simply asks a host of prominent philosophers the question, and the answers, predictably, vary wildly. But one name kept popping up all the time: David Hume. Everyone seemed to love David. And, because I soon want to read Kant anyway, I figured it made sense to finally delve into this work and try to understand what it's all abou ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Its more of an observers manual than a user manual.

Hume dissects human nature into various categories and asks questions. He further goes and tries to derive a response through logic and what rationality he could come up with. He vaguely notes if logic and rationality in themselves are mutable and are subjected to social changes over course of time. Of course it would require Kant to answer and streamline a lot of Hume's observations but for what its worth, this treatise though a repetitive tom
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
2/5 empiricism was a mistake. Out of the three empiricist philosophers I read, Hume deals with the most complex issues and treats the problems of the nature of ideas, causality and morality to their complete conclusion (often a contradictory/self-defeating one), but his fanatical devotion to the empiricist model seemed to me to make him lacking in the necessary self-awareness to give his work any relevancy.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hume continues the tradition of Locke and Berkeley, by demonstrating that causal connections are only in the mind of the perceiver, not actually in the world of perceived events.
Bob Nichols
Hume's "Treatise" is divided into three books that cover understanding, passions and morals. This review is on Book II, "Of the Passions." *[Review of Book III added below, November, 2013] At first (actually, third) read, this book is a mess, but the book's meaning gains traction when viewed within Hume's overall philosophical system.

In Hume's system, the world comes at the self through the senses and ideas flow from them (impressions). As we are not just knowing beings, where do passions fit w
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It seems absurd to give a star rating to an acknowledged classic like Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, but for what it's worth, this curious non-philosopher found it an engrossing and engaging read. It is certainly a long, involved and systematic book, but Hume writes with such grace and geniality that I think anyone of sufficient patience will find something to love in his writing.

After the lapse of nearly 300 years, a certain contradiction is apparent in Hume's approach to things. On the one h

Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hume's radicalism does not stop at critiquing long-standing philosophical notions of causality, what is external to us, substance, self and God; in a profoundly anti-Cartesian moment, he attacks those who uncritically assert that animals cannot reason nor express the 'passions' of love/hatred and pride/humility...

He makes clear at the outset of the section on animal reasoning that those who fail to realize this obvious quality are 'stupid and ignorant.' Thus, '(a) bird, that chooses with such c
Otto Lehto
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book contains some of the greatest philosophical insights ever put on paper, but unfortunately in a cumbersome and overlong format. Hume corrected this mistake in his later and more concise books - the two Enquiries - which together are a better place to start. The Treatise is NOT my first choice as an introduction to Hume.

But despite its frustrations and shortcomings, most notably its lack of editorial oversight (which translates into reader-unfriendliness), the Treatise is a multifaceted
Andrew Hunt
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Clear thinkers
Recommended to Andrew by: Immanuel Kant
Shelves: philosophy
Trenchant and profound. I wouldn't recommend the Barnes & Noble edition, which I picked up without knowing that it contained a few potentially misleading features (inexplicably, the preface to the Abstract which Hume later published is included and the Abstract itself left out).

It's good to read philosophy which, if it is sometimes obscure (though Hume very rarely is truly difficult), is so because the thoughts which it expresses are worth thinking. Certain philosophical writers of the late twen
Viji (Bookish endeavors)
Impressions and ideas.
Support for Locke's rejection of the concept of substance.
Support for Berkeley's rejection of abstract idea.
These are the primary topics this essay deals with. The language is pretty straightforward. This seemed much more understandable than the notes we used to receive in class. Hume's clarity of presentation is really admirable,it's not something that every philosopher possess. Worth a second read because of the relation of the concepts discussed in this book with many
Jun 12, 2008 is currently reading it
I got this brand new for a dollar. Hopefully Hume will awaken me from my dogmatic slumber as well.

Chidi: "You read this, right?"
Eleanor: "Yes. Well, I tried to. Well, I wanted to. Well, I tried to want to."
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I stumbled through this work as a very young person; guess what David, the notion of causality is a category of the understanding rather than a accident of habit. Thanks anyway for the pleasing read.
Lucas Johnston
Love me some English pragmatism
"I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude, in which I am plac'd in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been expell'd all human commerce, and left utterly abandon'd and disconsolate. Fain wou'd I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me. Ev ...more
David Hume is pretty easy to like. Despite the reputation built up by new atheists who seem to have only really read his "On Miracles", Hume is as clear and un-polemical as it comes. In just his writing alone there's a sober down to business mindset colored by nothing but the desire to express pure thought. In some ways I can see why that might make it seem unapproachable, but in reality he's one of the more easier to read philosophers you can come across if you'll excuse some of the quirks of 1 ...more
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This, profoundly relevant for 2018 book, speaks, in its own terms - in 18th century Davide Hume's terms, about cognition, metacognition, the fundamental usefulness of philosophy as a tool of expanding the horizons of possibility in the applied sciences, it explains psychological priming and conceptual abstraction applied to the human cognition, it even touches upon animal intelligence, and despite some fallacies regarding its nature, correctly underlines a difference of degrees of complexity, no ...more
Jordan Forster
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are many philosophers who remain of interest to students long after they have ceased to contemplate all things philosophical. For most the interest stems from the importance of the philosopher as part of the study of the history of philosophy. Few, however, retain an enduring relevance for their response to the philosophical problems they squared up to. David Hume is one of these few. Written in 1739, when Hume was aged a mere 28, the Treatise remains today one of the most important texts ...more
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
As far as philosophy goes, Hume is fairly easy to understand. And that's no flaw. In fact, philosophy has always been a difficult endeavour, talking about the core of what makes us human, there's bound to be miscommunication. The plain fact is we weren't made to communicate this. Continental philosophers such as Hegel tend to use their definitions so loosely that even experts of their work start disagreeing on the basics of what they were trying to say.

Not with Hume. There's a reason he was Russ
Alex Lee
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, philosophy
Much simpler shorter and less expansive than An Enquiry into Human Understanding but all the same, intensely interesting.

Karatani is correct, for Hume all knowledge is synthesis save for math, and counting, which Hume doesn't seem to be able to account for at all -- so he claims such a thing is innate. Indeed, we can grasp that such an ability (counting) and spacial-motoral skills seem to be bred into us, as innate mental structures. Still, Kant in this one area is more radical than Hume, claimi
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started with this book, since it was Hume's first work, but I soon started to get extremely bored with this huge tome. It is too much repetition and too abstruse for my taste. After I started with A Treatise of Human Nature I learned that Hume wrote two Enquiries on the two main topics of this book - epistemology and morality. I also read that these two short(er) Enquiries are updated versions of his earlier thoughts (my assumption: 'less faulty').

So I decided to put this book down and read t
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thinking human beings, philosophers, people interested in intellectual history
Shelves: favorites
Hume has always been one of my favorite philosophers. There are few areas of philosophy in which I can't say that I am something of a Humean. I find myself coming back to Hume for inspiration in his unique brand of skepticism in epistemology and metaphysics and his type of sentiment theory in ethics. The Treatise is not his best-written work (that would probably be the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion or the Enquiries), but it is his most comprehensive. If more philosophers throughout histo ...more
If you have ever taken a Philosophy course, it's incredibly likely that you'll have had to read this at some point and with good reason. A Treatise of Human Nature is an extraordinary account of how the mind and therefore humans work and covers absolutely everything you could wish to contemplate on. It is a mighty beast of a book though which requires a great deal of effort from the reader to get through. I will admit that there were parts where I skimmed and flicked through, but from the majori ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For Mr. Hume, everything begins with perception. Through memory perception drives what we feel and what we can know. These in turn provide the elements for human nature, morality, society, and individual behavior. In short, epistemology is driven by impression. Reason cannot give rise to an idea.
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David Hume 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 greatest who has ever written in the English language." While Hume fa

Other books in the series

A Treatise of Human Nature (4 books)
  • A Treatise on Human Nature, Volume 1
  • A Treatise of Human Nature, Book 3: Of Morals (With Active Table of Contents)
  • Dissertation sur les passions ; Des passions

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