David Hume

The Scottish philosopher David Hume lived from April 26, 1711 to August 25, 1776. In addition to philosophy, David Hume also worked in the fields of history and economics. In fact, he actually first gained respect and recognition as a historian, but more modernly people remember him as a great philosopher. Most people think of him as one of the most significant figures in the history of not only the Scottish Enlightenment, but also of Western philosophy.

David Hume developed the first thoroughly naturalistic philosophy of the modern era. This philosophy starts with the rejection of the 'Image of God' doctrine, the most prevalent view, which consisted of thinking of human minds as miniature versions of the "divine mind." The belief in that doctrine lead to people believing in the reliability of human reason and human insight into reality. The skepticism of David Hume showed in his rejection of that 'insight ideal,' and the resulting confidence that the world is as we represent it. Instead, David Hume claimed that the most humans can do is apply the best of the available empirical and explanatory principles to the examination of human mental phenomena, known as Hume's "Science of Man."

David Hume raised the "is-ought problem." He said that many writers fallaciously make assertions about what ought to be on the basis of statements about what is. Hume pointed out the major difference between prescriptive statements (about what ought to be) and descriptive statements (about what is).

Empiricists such as George Berkeley and John Locke heavily influenced David Hume. Additionally, Francophone writers such as Pierre Bayle and Anglophone intellectuals such as Samuel Clarke, Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson and Joseph Butler all influenced David Hume.

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