Jerome Christensen (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Pen in Hand,” in Practicing Enlightenment: Hume and the Formation of a Literary Career, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1987, pp. 45-65.

[In the following essay, Christensen discusses how Hume characterizes his writing in the autobiographical “My Own Life,” focusing on Hume's use of illness metaphors to explore the writing process.]

But where is the reward of virtue? And what recompense has Nature provided for such important sacrifices as those of life and fortune, which we must often make?

“The Stoic”

While I, miserable Wretch that I am, have put my...

(The entire section is 10456 words.)

M. A. Box (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Treatise” and “The Essays, Moral and Political,” in The Suasive Art of David Hume, Princeton University Press, 1990, pp. 53-162.

[In the following two chapters from The Suasive Art of David Hume, Box describes Hume's stylistic development from the Treatise to the Essays. According to Box, the “journalistic character” of the latter work represents a marked improvement over the tendency of the former toward “formal treatise.”]


I borrowed today out of the Advocates' Library, David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, but found it so...

(The entire section is 38511 words.)

Pheroze Wadia (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Philosophy as Literature: The Case of Hume's Dialogues,” in Compendious Conversations: The Method of Dialogue in the Early Enlightenment, edited by Kevin L. Cope, Peter Lang, 1992, pp. 34-53.

[In this essay, Wadia attempts to correct traditional criticisms of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religionby viewing its theological doctrines against the backdrop of its dialogue form.]

In a well-known passage toward the close of Book I of his A Treatise of Human Nature,1 David Hume tells us how, when he reflects on “the condition of the learned world, which lies under such a deplorable ignorance” of the fundamental principles...

(The entire section is 8636 words.)

Laura B. Kennelly (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Women, Religion, and Zeal: Hume's Rhetoric in the History of England,” in Compendious Conversations: The Method of Dialogue in the Early Enlightenment, edited by Kevin L. Cope, Peter Lang, 1992, pp. 279-89.

[In the essay that follows, Kennelly criticizes Hume's History of England, which she believes is “sadly lacking in gender sensitivity and respect for religion and zealous believers (in any cause).”]

It has been said that David Hume's History of England (1754-1762) represented a “last ditch attempt to make himself heard.”1 If so, it seems to have been a successful attempt. While the sales of Essays, Moral and...

(The entire section is 3891 words.)

Donald W. Livingston (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Philosophy and Christendom” and “English Barbarism: ‘The Poor Infatuated Americans,’” in Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium: Hume's Pathology of Philosophy, The University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp. 102-18 and 290-313.

[In the first chapter below, Livingston explores Hume's attitudes toward religion and philosophy. In the second, he examines Hume's support of the American Revolution and his criticism of British imperial policy.]



Hume taught that philosophy was a novelty in the ancient world. The principles of...

(The entire section is 18619 words.)

Adam Potkay (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Religious Eloquence: Hume on the Passions That Unite Us,” in The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume, Cornell University Press, 1994, pp. 159-88.

[In this essay, Potkay explores Hume's ambivalence toward rhetoric and evaluates his attempt “to preserve the coalescent power of eloquence in the very act of dissolving the bonds of religion.”]

James Boswell writes: “On Sunday forenoon the 7 of July 1776, being too late for church, I went to see Mr. David Hume, who was returned [to Edinburgh] from London and Bath, just a dying. I found him alone, in a reclining posture in his drawing room. He was lean, ghastly, and quite of an earthy appearance.” In his...

(The entire section is 11867 words.)

Lou Reich (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Religion and ‘Natural Belief’ in Hume's Dialogues,” in Hume's Religious Naturalism, University Press of America, 1998, pp. 1-28.

[In the following essay, Reich evaluates previous critical approaches to the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religionin an effort to decipher Hume's philosophical position on the ontological arguments in the book. Specifically, Reich focuses on whether Hume considers belief in a supreme being to be a “natural belief,” and discusses how this affects the claims of the Dialogues.]

Nothing in Hume's other works quite prepares the reader of his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion for the apparent...

(The entire section is 11932 words.)

Jeremy Joyner White (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Treatise of Human Nature and Hume's Philosophy as a Whole,” in A Humean Critique of David Hume's Theory of Knowledge, edited by John A. Gueguen, University Press of America, 1998, pp. 21-32.

[In this essay, White outlines the structure and purpose of the Treatise, claiming that the work contains the philosophical approach and positions that characterize Hume's entire oeuvre.]

Since Hume's initial inspiration finds its fullest expression in A Treatise of Human Nature, and most of his subsequent philosophical works are but a development or refinement of the program he set for himself at the start of the Treatise, a look at...

(The entire section is 4815 words.)