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An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Paperback – October 23, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 82 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461180198
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461180197
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 7.9 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


`Review from previous edition These new Oxford University Press editions have been meticulously collated from various exatant versions. Each text has an excellent introduction including an overview of Hume's thought and an account of his life and times ... There are also useful notes on the text and glossary. These scholarly new editions are ideally adapted for a whole range of readers, from beginners to experts.' Jane O'Grady, Catholic Herald --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Thank you, I have enjoyed the book greatly.
I highly recommend this seminal work to any one interested in philosophy and enjoys stretching their minds a bit.
Jeffrey Van Wagoner
Relations of Ideas are things that a true by defintion.
A. Steinhebel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Van Wagoner VINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the most impressive free kindle editions of a book that I have read. It is taken from a 1902 printing (a 2nd edition) that was reprinted from the posthumous edition of 1777. It includes endnotes and an extensive index put together by L.A Selby-Bigge, a late fellow of University College, Oxford. There is a table of contents at the beginning with hyperlinks. The endnotes also have hyperlinks, which makes it easy to read the notes and jump back to the text. The index also has hyperlinks. This is the first kindle freebie that I have seen with these features. This is handy for this type of book. Note that Hume is Scottish and the book was originally written in English.

I have always had an interest in philosophy and history and finally got around to reading this foundational work. The title describes exactly what this book is about. Hume starts by giving a brief introduction to philosophy and then jumps into the main questions. The biggie is where do ideas come from? How do we understand things? What is instinct, inspiration? It is interesting that his answers to these questions still hold up well to modern thought.

Hume wrote this book at a time and place where Calvinism still held great sway and God was thought to be behind every thought and action. His ideas were radical and I was interested to see how he tried to delicately handle ideas that would potentially offend many of his readers.

I highly recommend this seminal work to any one interested in philosophy and enjoys stretching their minds a bit. This is something I will refer to often. I continue to enjoy the access my Kindle gives me to great classics like this.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By ctdreyer on February 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Hume, I and many others think, was the greatest philosopher to have written in English, and this is the book to pick up if you want to introduce yourself to Saint David's distinctive brand of classical empiricism. This is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in philosophy, and it's hard for me to see how anyone interested in the history of modern thought can avoid reading this book or the corresponding sections of Hume's Treatise.
As is well-known, the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding was intended as an encapsulation and popularization of the views Hume defended in Book I of his magnum opus, A Treatise of Human Nature. Hume assumed that book's commercial failure could be accounted for by its length, difficulty, and lack of accessibility, and so, being a man who desired literary fame, he hoped to acquire commercial success by presenting the same ideas in a more appealing and accessible manner. Unfortunately, it seems Hume misunderstood what the literati of his day were looking for in a philosophical treatise. For the Enquiry, like the Treatise before it, didn't bring him the fame he sought. Still, Hume did understand what goes into writing excellent philosophical prose, and consequently this book is a much easier read than Book I of the Treatise. Indeed, this book constitutes an excellent introduction to Hume's thought, and, except for maybe Berkeley's Three Dialogues, I can't think of another primary source that would serve as a better introduction to classical British empiricism.
Now, let's get to the ideas here. Hume, like the other classical empiricists, was primarily concerned with the psychological question of the origin of our concepts.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a superb edition of one of the basic works in Western philosophy. Designed to be used by both casual and serious students of philosophy, this edition contains the text of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (EHU) and a series of other sections that provide background and further directions for studying Hume. Included are an excellent precis of the EHU, a first rate annotated bibliography concerning works by and about Hume, considerable background material on Hume, and excellent notes to the text of the EHU.
The EHU is a concise and charmingly written presentation of Hume's views of the nature and particularly the limitations of human knowledge. The EHU presents Humes basic concepts of human thought, human pattern recognition, and then proceeds to Hume's revolutionary analysis of the problem of induction. Hume exposes our limitations in establishing certain cause and effect relations. Hume's analysis of this problem and its corollaries leads to ultimate skepticism about our ability to know the external world with certainty and undermines much of the basis for religion. Hume presents his ideas in an attractive style that owes much to famous 18th century essayists like Addison.
A fundamental work and very readable work.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
David Hume was perhaps the leading light in the Empiricist movement in philosophy. Empiricism is seen in distinction from Rationalism, in that it doubts the viability of universal principles (rational or otherwise), and uses sense data as the basis of all knowledge - experience is the source of knowledge. Hume was a skeptic as well as empiricist, and had radical (for the time) atheist ideas that often got in the way of his professional advancement, but given his reliance on experience (and the kinds of experiences he had), his problem with much that was considered conventional was understandable.

Hume's major work, 'A Treatise of Human Nature', was not well received intially - according to Hume, 'it fell dead-born from the press'. Hume reworked the first part of this work in a more popular way for this text, which has become a standard, and perhaps the best introduction to Empiricism.

In a nutshell, the idea of empiricism is that experience teaches, and rules and understanding are derived from this. However, for Hume this wasn't sufficient. Just because billiard balls when striking always behave in a certain manner, or just because the sun always rose in the morning, there was no direct causal connection that could be automatically affirmed - we assume a necessary connection, but how can this be proved?

Hume's ideas impact not only metaphysics, but also epistemology and psychology. Hume develops empiricism to a point that empiricism is practically unsupportable (and it is in this regard that Kant sees this text as a very important piece, and works toward his synthesis of Empiricism and Rationalism). For Hume, empirical thought requires skepticism, but leaves it unresolved as far as what one then needs to accept with regard to reason and understanding.
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