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Essays: moral, political, and literary Paperback – September 7, 2010
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This edition contains the thirty-nine essays included in Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary that made up Volume I of the 1777 posthumous Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects. It also includes ten essays that were withdrawn or left unpublished by Hume for various reasons. The two most important were deemed too controversial for the religious climate of his time. This revised edition reflects changes based on further comparisons with eighteenth-century texts and an extensive reworking of the index.
From the Back Cover
Interestingly, Hume's was motivated to produce a collection of informal essays given the poor public reception of his more formally written Treatise of Human Nature in 1739. He hoped that his work would be interesting not only to the educated man, but to the common man as well. He passionately argues that essays provide a forum for discussing his philosophy of "common life."
Top Customer Reviews
These essays are more in the tradition of Montaigne, Marcus Arelius, and Emerson, to cite some exemplars of the tradition, meaning that these essays are not as logically rigorous as Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature," "Essays Concerning Human Understanding," "Principles of Morals," and "Natural Religion," but are more an astute and empirical observation of what causes pleasure and satisfaction versus what causes discomfort and uneasiness. This emprical motif permeates all the essays.
The "moral" essays are a continuation of Vol. III of his "Treatise on Human Nature," and "Principles of Morals," and contribute to how our "tastes" and "utility," rather than apriori logic, delimit and describe moral ideas and ideals. His "political" essays are the most prominent among the group and are often prescient of subsequent developments, clearly anticipating a more democratic society, but they often come across as antediluvian, despite Hume's analytical dexterity and his compassionate motivation. The "literary" essays are the least in number and the most impotent of his contributions. Not that they lack value or interest, they simply lack novelty or new understanding. All his essays have an empirical bent, which should not surprise anyone familiar with Hume's other works.
Many of these 48 essays have perennial value, while others are clearly cotemporaneous with his time and place (mid-18th century England). In either case, they contribute to our understanding of the period, while making perspicacious observations about subjects that are both endearing and enduring. The LibertyClassics' edition uses current locution and spellings in Caslon 540 typeface on durable, acid-free paper, making Hume's lucid and elegant prose an even more attractive presentation. Highly recommended.
Do be careful and buy an edition from a quality publisher--Oxford, Cambridge, Hackett, or an American university press. Among these publishers Liberty Fund stands out as a producer of classic works that feature good-sized print, generous margins, permanent bindings, and low prices. And always carefully edited.
Hume's Essays is a typically excellent edition from Liberty Fund. It consists of three sets of essays, 49 total, on various subjects. Those of most interest to the economically inclined include Of Money, Of Interest, and Of the Balance of Trade. These are an excellent entry into classical-era economics and can be recommended to anyone interested in learning more about economic thought in the mid-18c. I have assigned this edition to students with great success.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic. Hume at his very best. American readers will be interested in essays about politics and economics which influenced the authors of the US Constitution.Published 16 days ago by Ian Ravenscroft
This is a great book! But it's an abridged version an we're looking for the full version, so lack of description scores 3.Published 10 months ago by Ian
The copy of this edition that I received was filled with misprints, including strings of random characters. Read morePublished on January 28, 2010 by Lee Goldsmith