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A Treatise of Human Nature (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) Paperback – Unabridged, September 16, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This is the best edition around, especially for its glossary, index and the inclusion of the 'Abstract.'"--Professor Forrest Williams, University of Colorado


"This is the best edition available with an excellent index and notes!"--George Aigla, St. Johns College


--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Hume was an eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, historian, and essayist, and the author of A Treatise of Human Nature, considered by many to be one of the most important philosophical works ever published.

Hume attended the University of Edinburgh at an early age and considered a career in law before deciding that the pursuit of knowledge was his true calling. Hume s writings on rationalism and empiricism, free will, determinism, and the existence of God would be enormously influential on contemporaries such as Adam Smith, as well as the philosophers like Schopenhauer, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Popper, who succeeded him. Hume died in 1776.

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Product Details

  • Series: Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble; Reprint edition (September 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760771723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760771723
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,363,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher A. VINE VOICE on December 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Be aware that the reviews for a book are displayed not only for one edition, but for all editions under the same title. The Oxford Philosophical Texts edition of Hume's "Treatise" should be the standard student edition. The Prometheus Books edition is cheap, but it does not include a modern introduction or any study notes. I recommend the Oxford Philosophical Texts version if you want or need more than just the raw text.
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Since Hume's Treatise first appeared in 1739-1740, several distinct editions have been published. While most of these are fine for casual use, the Oxford University Press edition, recently prepared by David and Mary Norton, stands alone as an outstanding scholarly achievement. Their edition, at present only available in the Oxford Philosophical Texts student edition, will within the next year or so also be available in a scholarly edition (Oxford's Clarendon Edition). These two versions have the same text of the Treatise. The difference between them lies in their introductions and annotations, which are suited to different sets of readers. Part of the value of both versions lies in these exceptional introductions and annotations. The other part, though, involves the Nortons' editing of the text of the Treatise itself, which, ironically, makes their edition more accurate than Hume's original. While the original edition of the Treatise was being printed, Hume instructed the printer to make changes to the text, and thus some first editions read differently than others. The Nortons have compared first-edition copies of the Treatise page by page to locate these changes. Pen in hand, Hume also scribbled other changes into several printed copies of the Treatise; the Nortons have accounted for those alterations as well. These are just two examples of many editorial tasks that have gone into making this the definitive edition of Hume's Treatise, the edition which will remain the standard for decades. Let me add a word regarding the critical comments that an anonymous amazon.com reviewer made about the Nortons' edition ("A reader", January 18, 2003). This reviewer's comments may be well-meaning, but I can say with confidence there is little substance to her/his objections. The edition has been widely hailed as a triumph by Hume scholars and scholarly reviewers, and the philosophy editors at Oxford University Press tell me they are completely delighted with the work.
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Before he chose to diddle away his later years writing book after book of history, playing house with Rousseau, annoying the religious authorities, and forging a lasting reputation as an all-around good guy, Hume dedicated his youth to writing the this book, which is nothing less than the single greatest work of philosophy in the English language. Indeed, I don't think there are even any other close competitors for that title. Naturally, then, this work was largely ignored during Hume's lifetime.
Notwithstanding the widely told, and somewhat accurate, standard story of the history of modern philosophy according to which Kant's rearguard action in response to Hume is the culmination of the modern period, I think that this book rather than Kant's First Critique is where it's at. Certainly, no book of modern philosophy compares to this complex, intricately argued, inspiring, maddening, imaginative, iconoclastic, encyclopedic tome when it comes to influence on contemporary philosophers in the Anglo-American analytic tradition. And while it's true that Kant's system is almost unparalleled in the breadth of its influence, defenders of the traditional story of modern philosophy need to remember that 'almost'. For it seems to me that, among the moderns, Hume got there first. He, and not Kant, is the first modernist whose importance is manifest in all the main areas of philosophy: epistemology (skepticism and the problem of induction), metaphysics (causation, personal identity, etc.), philosophy of mind (action theory, rationality) meta-ethics (meta-ethical subjectivism, proto-noncognitivism, reason vs. emotions, moral psychology, etc.), normative ethics (importance of benevolence, justice as an artificial virtue, etc.).
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The worst feature of Amazon is their lumping together of multiple editions of a single title, which is usually the case with the classics. It's very important to know which version you're buying.

1. The best, most scholarly, most recent version is Oxford's Clarendon Edition, "Volume 1: Texts," edited by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton, published 14 June 2007. This has the portrait of Hume on the cover. There are no footnotes or much of an introduction, because all of that appears in the substantial Vol. 2, so you really need both volumes. This edition retains the original spelling, when contractions were more common than they are now, which can be trying sometimes (suppos'd for supposed, tho' for though, and so on).

2. The Oxford Philosophical Texts Edition, also edited by the Nortons, is an earlier (2000) version, more geared toward students. This has a text-only green cover. This is good if you just want a single volume without the excess and detail of the above.

3. The older, pre-Norton standard edition, edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge, also published by Oxford, dates from 1896, and was continually reprinted until the 1970s or '80s. Pay attention if buying a used version published by Oxford -- most copies on sale will be reprints of the Selby-Bigge (these are common), not the more recent Norton. Most dealers do not specify which one they are selling. (You can get a PDF of this edition from an online Archive site.)

4. The Penguin Classics edition is the best if you're looking for just the text with some clarifying footnotes.

5.
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