David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and skepticism
Philosophical skepticism
Philosophical skepticism is both a philosophical school of thought and a method that crosses disciplines and cultures. Many skeptics critically examine the meaning systems of their times, and this examination often results in a position of ambiguity or doubt...

. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy
Western philosophy
Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western or Occidental world, as distinct from Eastern or Oriental philosophies and the varieties of indigenous philosophies....

 and the Scottish Enlightenment
Scottish Enlightenment
The Scottish Enlightenment was the period in 18th century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By 1750, Scots were among the most literate citizens of Europe, with an estimated 75% level of literacy...

. Hume is often grouped with John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, George Berkeley
George Berkeley
George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature
A Treatise of Human Nature
A Treatise of Human Nature is a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, first published in 1739–1740.The full title of the Treatise is 'A Treatise of Human Nature: Being an Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects'. It contains the following sections:* Book 1:...

(1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

 "science of man
Science of man
The science of man is a topic used in David Hume's 18th century experimental philosophy A Treatise of Human Nature...

" that examined the psychological basis of human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....


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.

E. C. Mossner, Life of David Hume (Clarendon Press, 2001), p. 311.

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.

Statement to a friend shortly before his death, as recounted in Men of Letters by Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux|Lord Henry Brougham

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.

Part 4 Of the sceptical and other systems of philosophy, Sect. 7 Conclusion of this book

Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.

Part 4 Of the sceptical and other systems of philosophy, Sect. 7 Conclusion of this book