Reviews

The First Philosophic Age

It can confidently be claimed—and has already been by several reviewers in the philosophers' trade journals—that this book is absolutely indispensable to anyone wanting hilly to understand the whole range of Hume's writings. That range includes much more than the Treatise, the two Enquiries, and the Dialogues—the four works normally studied in university courses in philosophy. It is not for nothing, either, that the catalogue of the British Museum Library lists Hume's publications under the heading "David Hume, the historian," or that it is the Liberty Press which has published both the only 20th-century reprint of his History of England and what is now the standard edition of his Essays.

The present book is perhaps best read after readers have refreshed their memories of the same author's Hume's Philosophy of Common Life. That would prepare them to appreciate a considerably more comprehensive conception of philosophy than that which is usual in departments of philosophy throughout the English-speaking world. Here the master problem is that of Hume's answer to the question: "What is philosophy?" This question is construed comprehensively as including such sub-questions as "What is the philosophical life? What is philosophical truth? What is the proper relation of philosophy to religion, to culture, to its own history?"

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