Biography of David Hume, the Scottish Empiricist

Biography of David Hume, the Scottish Empiricist

The Century of the lights He left us great thinkers and philosophers. One of the most recognized was David humeScottish philosopher, economist and historian who left his mark down to our time.

His works on empiricism and religion They caused a stir in his time, to the point that he was accused on numerous occasions of being a heretic.

He was born on May 7, 1711 in Edinburgh and has always been interested in studying and learning more about the things around him. This is how he began his completely self-taught learning in a stage that would last until he was 24 years old.

In 1734, after spending a few months in Bristol, Hume He decided to go to university, so he moved to La Flèche (France) and studied law.

Works by David Hume

After passing through France, Hume left for London. There he decided to write the work for which he is known worldwide today, the "Treatise on human nature." It was published in 1739 but it was not very successful among his contemporaries.

However, the philosopher did not collapse and wrote his "Moral and Political Essays" in 1741. This last publication oriented his work in a double direction.

On the one hand, presented an empirical theory of knowledge but, on the other, he used it in turn as the basis for postulating a utilitarian theory of social and political life.

Hume developed both ideas in "Essays on human understanding" in 1748, in "Investigation on the principles of morality" in 1751 and in "Political dissertations" in 1752.

As curator of an Edinburgh library, a job he held from 1752 to 1769, he wrote a great work called "History of England" and a "Dialogues on Natural Religion.

Both texts brought him great fame but also an accusation of heresy by the churches of Scotland. Although he was acquitted, Hume did not get the chair of philosophy which he was opting for at the University of Glasgow.

However, his cheerful and optimistic character kept him enjoying his position as a librarian, as he had access to a large number of books and was therefore able to carry out innumerable historical investigations.

Hume and the encyclopedists

In 1763, Hume managed to work as secretary to Lord Hertford, ambassador to Paris. Of course, he frequented the salons, alternated with the encyclopedists and maintained a friendly relationship with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although divergences soon emerged between the two.

Voltaire felt great admiration for Hume But even so, the Scottish philosopher returned to London and served as undersecretary of state between 1767 and 1769.

From 1768, tired of traveling, he returned to his native Edinburgh. Just two years after his return, a completely isolated event caused him to be recognized and valued by his contemporaries.

Immanuel Kant stated that Hume's works had “awakened dogmatic dreams”. This made thinkers of the time read the works of the Scottish philosopher.

For four years, Hume enjoyed the success recognized by the intellectuals of his time.

Finally, On August 25, 1776, he died at his home in Edinburgh at the age of 65, leaving behind a philosophical and intellectual legacy that would have a decisive influence on later generations.

The empiricism of David Hume

The empiricism that Hume uses both in his works and in his mentality It comes from the method applied in his Treatise, which leads to the observation of the fact that the certainty of knowledge is the result of the invariability of the mental operations carried out in the act of knowing.

For the Scottish philosopher, all human ideas are born from sensations and their associationsWhile the rest, that is, God, chance and the reality of the outside world, is only belief. Therefore, it establishes that there is neither absolute truth nor absolute morality.

Starting from these postulates, Hume does not pose any problem of political legitimacy, since both the government and the state, as well as social conveniences, are only “useful conventions as fiction”.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


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