. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy
and the Scottish Enlightenment
. Hume is often grouped with John Locke
, George Berkeley
, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.
Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature
(1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic
"science of man
" that examined the psychological basis of human nature
Does a man of sense run after every silly tale of hobgoblins or fairies, and canvass particularly the evidence? I never knew anyone, that examined and deliberated about nonsense who did not believe it before the end of his enquiries.
With regard to politics and the character of princes and great men, I think I am very moderate. My views of things are more conformable to Whig principles; my representation of persons to Tory prejudices. Nothing can so much prove that men commonly regard more persons than things, as to find that I am commonly numbered among the Tories.
Here am I who have written on all sorts of subjects calculated to excite hostility, moral, political, and religious, and yet I have no enemies — except, indeed, all the Whigs, all the Tories, and all the Christians.
Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap'd shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances.
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.