Hume's Enlightenment Tract is the first full book-length study for forty years of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. The Enquiry has, contrary to its author's expressed wishes, long lived in the shadow of its predecessor, A Treatise of Human Nature. Stephen Buckle presents the Enquiry in a fresh light, and aims to raise it to its rightful position in Hume's work and in the history of philosophy. He argues that the Enquiry is not, as so often assumed, a mere collection of watered-down extracts from the earlier work. It is, rather, a coherent work with a unified argument; and, when this argument is grasped as a whole, the Enquiry shows itself to be the best introduction to the lineaments of its author's general philosophy. Buckle offers a careful guide through the argument and structure of the work. He shows how the central sections of the Enquiry offer a critique of the dogmatic empiricisms of the ancient world (Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Aristotelianism), and set in place an alternative conception of human powers based on the sceptical principles of habit and probability. These principles are then put to work, to rule out philosophy's metaphysical ambitions and their consequences: religious systems and their attendant conception of human beings as semi-divine rational animals. Hume's scepticism, experimentalism, and naturalism are thus shown to be different aspects of the one unified philosophy - a sceptical version of the Enlightenment vision.
`Review from previous edition Hume's Enlightenment Tract is a masterpiece in the history of philosophy. Buckle is not only fully in command of the text he is studying, but of the context both ancient and modern. He also brings into his discussions some of the best scholarship of recent years in early modern philosophy. The book is written in a provocative and stimulating way and, whether one agrees or disagrees with its main contentions, one is sure to come away from reading it highly motivated to go back to Hume's own book and reconsider it in the light of Hume's widest philosophical concerns.' John P. Wright, Australasian Journal of Philosophy `Buckle's work is undoubtedly an important addition to the recent growth in scholarly writing on the Enquiry ... the only single-author work to offer both a critical overview of the Enquiry, a systematic general interpretation, and a section-by-section commentary on its contents... He succeeds in the important task of establishing the Enquiry as an independently significant philosophical work, central to the interpretation of Hume's thinking as a whole, and his book should help ensure that the work remains at the forefront of the new critical thinking about Hume's epistemology.' Paul Stanistreet, Journal of Scottish Philosophy
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st March 2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.7 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.45