An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

ISBN : 9780199549900

David Hume; Peter Millican
304 Pages
129 x 197 mm
Pub date
Jul 2008
Oxford World's Classics
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  • Hume's Enquiry is one of the most important philosophical works addressing central questions of human life and knowledge, and this edition presents a reliable text with a wealth of supporting material.
  • Reprints the last, 1777, edition, containing corrections made by Hume shortly before his death.
  • Includes a comprehensive introduction by Peter Millican, editor of Hume Studies, which presents a succinct overview of the philosophical background to the work before exploring the Enquiry in detail. it explains how the Enquiry can be understood as a unified and powerful statement of Hume's mature philosophy and is accessible to beginning students as well as of interest to specialists.
  • Explanatory Notes and Glossary help to clarify allusions and unfamiliar terminology.
  • Appendices include the Abstract of the Treatise of Human Nature, a list of principal variants from the 1777 text, two short essays by Hume, excerpts from letters, Part I of the Dialogues concerning Natural Religion and Hume's short autobiography, My Own Life.

'Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.' 
Thus ends David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, the definitive statement of the greatest philosopher in the English language. His arguments in support of reasoning from experience, and against the 'sophistry and illusion' of religiously inspired philosophical fantasies, caused controversy in the eighteenth century and are strikingly relevant today, when faith and science continue to clash.
The Enquiry considers the origin and processes of human thought, reaching the stark conclusion that we can have no ultimate understanding of the physical world, or indeed our own minds. In either sphere we must depend on instinctive learning from experience, recognizing our animal nature and the limits of reason. Hume's calm and open-minded scepticism thus aims to provide a new basis for science, liberating us from the 'superstition' of false metaphysics and religion. His Enquiry remains one of the best introductions to the study of philosophy, and this edition places it in its historical and philosophical context. 



1.   From Ancient to Modern Cosmology
2.   From aristotelian to Cartesian Intelligibility
3.   Corpuscularianism, Locke, and Newton
4.   Free Will, and the angers of Infielity
5.   God's Design, and Human Reason
6.   Inertness, Malebranche, and Berkeley
8.   Section I: The Aims of the Enquiry
9.   Section II and III: The Origin and Association of Ideas
10. Section IV: Hume's Fork
11. Secction IV and V: The Basis of Factual Reasoning
12. Section VI: 'Of Probability'
13. Section VII: 'Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion'
14. Secction VIII: 'Of Liberty and Necessity'
15. Section IX: 'Of the Reason of Animals'
16. Section X: 'Of Miracles'
17. Section XI: 'Of a Particular Provience, and of a Future State'
18. Section XII: 'Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy'

Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of David Hume

I.    Of the different Species of Philosophy
II:  Of the Origin of Ideas
III. Of the Asociation of Ideas

About the author: 

David Hume
Edited by Peter Millican, Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy, Hertford College, Oxford
Peter Millican is founder and director of the Leeds Electronic Text Centre and editor of the journal Hume Studies. He recently edited Reading Hume on Human Understanding (OUP, 2002).

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