David Hume

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
David Hume (1766)
portrait by Allan Ramsay

David Hume [ hju: m ] (* April 26 . Jul / 7. May  1711 . Greg in Edinburgh , † 25. August 1776 ) was a Scottish philosopher , economist and historian . He was one of the most important representatives of the Scottish Enlightenment and is assigned to the philosophical current of empiricism or sensualism . His skeptical and metaphysical-free philosophizing inspired Immanuel Kant to criticize pure reason . This pioneer of the Enlightenment had an indirect impact on the modern trends of positivism and analytical philosophy . In terms of its economic importance, it can be counted among the pre-classical economics . Hume was a close friend of Adam Smith and had a lively intellectual exchange with him.


A few months before his death (dated April 18, 1776), David Hume wrote his vita in the form of an autobiographical sketch. He was born in 1711 in Edinburgh after a brother John (* 1709) and a sister Catharine (* 1710) as the second son of an impoverished nobleman working as a lawyer, Joseph Home of Ninewells in Chirnside Berwickshire , and baptized David Home. His mother was Catharine Falconer, a daughter of Sir David Falconer (1640-1685), Lord President of the College of Justice . On his death in 1713, the father left the family's estates, the Ninewells estate , on which the siblings grew up, and the title of Lord Halkerton to the older brother, while Hume was only entitled to a small portion of the inheritance as the younger son, so that he had little money .

At the age of twelve he enrolled at Edinburgh University in 1723 . There he learned Latin, Greek, logic and metaphysics. Under pressure from his mother and his uncle George, he began studying law in Edinburgh in 1726 . In 1729 he broke off his studies because he felt "an insurmountable aversion to everything except philosophy and general erudition". He gained so much knowledge during this time that he was later able to provide legal assistance to friends. He returned to his mother and siblings in Ninewells near the English border, where he retired to study philosophy. These consisted of reading and observing human thought and action, including his own.

In the process, "in addition to a state of internal dissatisfaction [...] physical complaints, first scurvy , then salivation". He needed medical care and change his way of life. He gave up the exclusive solitude of his study, spent more time with his family and friends, rode out every day and no longer put himself under pressure to make progress in his philosophical research as quickly as possible. Little by little, his desire to work returned and his physical ailments improved. From this time he remained very overweight for life.

Hume's attempt to supplement his scientific way of life with a commercial activity failed. From 1734 he worked for about half a year as a clerk for a merchant in Bristol . During this activity he changed the spelling of his last name from 'Home' to Hume in order to adapt it to the English pronunciation. The merchant and his friends ridiculed Hume for his Scottish nationality, pronunciation and knowledge. This also contributed to the fact that he soon gave up the activity in the office .

From 1734 onwards, Hume stayed in Paris and Reims . He liked the French way of life. In the summer of 1735 he moved to La Flèche near Le Mans on the Loire . In the Jesuit monastery of the village was René Descartes went to school. Hume worked in a private apartment in La Flèche for two years on the completion of his A Treatise of Human Nature ( a treatise on human nature ).

In London he prepared this work, which appeared in 1739/40 from 1737, for printing, which, however, did not receive a great response. Anonymous, Hume himself published a review of the work, which, however, brought the Treatise little new attention, so that Hume later judged:

"As a stillbirth, he fell out of the press and did not even receive enough attention to at least arouse a quiet murmur among the zealots."

The grumbling of the zealots was at least expressed in an anonymous pamphlet that justified Hume's reputation as an " atheist ", " materialist " and " amoralist ", due to which his application for the chair for " Ethics and Pneumatic Philosophy" in Edinburgh in 1745 had little chance and in 1746 it finally failed. After the death of his mother he had to give up the life of a private scholar, instead worked in 1745 as a tutor of the 3rd Marquess of Annandale (1720-1792) in England and from 1746 for two years as secretary to General St. Clair, whom he initially worked for accompanied a military expedition to the French coast, then as an adjutant on a military-diplomatic mission to Vienna and Turin. These years of interruption of his philosophical studies provided him with a fortune which ensured his financial independence for the years that followed; according to information about 1,000 pounds sterling .

Hume's essays Moral and Political had already been published in 1741 and 1742 : Hume revised his Treatise in order to republish it in parts, as he was convinced that "the failure [...] was due more to its form than its content". The first part appeared in 1748 under the title Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding ; later than on Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding ( An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding ). In the estate of his brother Hume worked in 1749 on a further reformulated part of the Treatise, An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals ( An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals ), published in 1751, and in His discourses Political , which he in 1752 in Edinburgh, his new residence after his brother's marriage.

David Hume 1754

Hume again applied for a professorship in 1751, namely the chair of logic in Glasgow , which he failed again in 1752, so that he "remained the only important Scottish philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment [remained] who was denied a university career". In the same year that Hume's growing success in the need for reprinting of his works (apart from the Treatise) showed, he became librarian of the College of Jurists (Bar Association) in Edinburgh and began work on his impartial history of England, planned since 1745. With the library of 30,000 volumes at his disposal, he was able to publish the first volume in 1754 under the title History of Great Britain , which began with the rise of the House of Stuart to the kingship of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1603:

I believed I was the only historian who paid no attention to the currently ruling powers, interests and authorities, or to the clamor of generalized prejudice. And since I had made the subject comprehensible for everyone, I counted on appropriate applause. But how miserably my hope failed! "

But after initial opposition from various parties, Hume's story of Great Britain became his biggest hit with audiences, translated into several languages ​​early on, and made him a rich man. He was hailed as the historian of English history well into the 19th century . Like the six historical volumes that appeared to 1761, came first and his work The Natural History of Religion ( The Natural History of Religion ), which appeared in 1757 along with three other essays in academic circles widely rejected. In 1761 all of Hume's writings were placed on the Librorum Prohibitorum Index by the Vatican (until 1872). At this point, however, Hume's writings were already in circulation enough to make a living from:

Regardless of the changeable weather to which my writings were exposed, their sales had made such progress that the author's share that the booksellers sold to me by far exceeded anything that had been known in England up to that point. "

By 1769, Hume's annual income rose to around £ 1,000. In addition to his royalties , the acquaintance of the Marquess of Hertford , which he made in 1763 in the same year in which he traveled to Paris as private secretary with him, the newly appointed British ambassador to France, also contributed to his prosperity . Appointed embassy secretary in 1765, Hume was the sole chargé d' affaires of the Paris embassy from the summer of that year until the successor to Hertford, the Duke of Richmond , who had been appointed Viceroy of Ireland , arrived after four months. During his stay in Paris he was also a frequent guest of Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach and his salon-like, regular meetings of the so-called Coterie holbachique in the Rue Royale Saint-Roch .

Hume returned to London in 1766 , where he had invited Jean-Jacques Rousseau , wanted on an arrest warrant , to obtain asylum for him there . After a few months, however, Rousseau fled out of distrust of Hume, carried out his dispute with Hume in a journalistic way and returned to France a little later. In 1767, Hume was asked by Earl Hertford's brother to become Undersecretary of State in the Northern Department of the British Foreign Office, a task that he continued into the following year. He returned to Edinburgh in 1769 to spend the rest of his life in his native Scotland . His sister, who was also unmarried, ran the household for him. About his final years, Hume's friend, the economist Adam Smith, wrote:

David Hume's grave in the Old Calton Cemetery , Edinburgh

" Although he found himself [...] much weaker, his cheerful mind never left him, and he continued, as usual, to amuse himself with correcting his own works for a new edition, reading books for his pleasure, Having conversations with friends and sometimes playing a game of whist in the evenings , a game he particularly liked. "

David Hume died on August 25, 1776 in his home on St. David's Street in Edinburgh after he had become progressively weaker from "chronic diarrhea lasting more than a year". He was buried soon after in the Old Calton Cemetery (also called the Old Calton Burial Ground - near Calton Hill ; accessible from Waterloo Place ) in Edinburgh.

Hume's autobiographical sketch, which he expressly allowed Adam Smith to add, was intended for posthumous publication together with his Two Essays ( Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul ; London 1777) and stylized accordingly:

Hume's self-portrait should be a triumph of greatness over the small-mindedness of his enemies. Because especially in later years of his life, Hume was exposed to violent attacks on his philosophical writings, [...] among others by representatives of the so-called Scottish school of common-sense philosophy, which defended common sense against the philosophy that was viewed as skeptical Humes appeared. "

How the Two essays , as well as the published Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion ( Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion ) to Hume's death as he had in his will has for this script, which was developed in the early 1750s. His friends, who feared a possible scandal, had advised him not to publish it during his lifetime - even though it has not yet been clarified which of the characters appearing in the dialogues might have represented Hume's own point of view. Not least because of the controversy of his positions, his influence on contemporary and later thinkers was enormous: “He did not intend to placate the authorities, but rather to shock them.” His younger contemporary Johannes Nikolaus Tetens was considered the “German Hume” who not least shaped the reception of Hume's ideas by Immanuel Kant .


Hume put people at the center of his philosophizing. He assumed that people were born to act and think . Therefore, with his philosophy, he developed a framework of basic assumptions that provided explanations and instructions for human action and thinking. He called these basic assumptions 'principles' . These are rules , or regular processes, which for Hume were not given to humans as eternal laws , but were found by humans for other humans. The results of his philosophy - this is how Hume imagined it - should have a positive effect on society and fundamentally change the sciences.

From his 'principles' of the 'Human Understanding' he concluded that human knowledge of cultural habit ( custom ) is assessed. The term 'human understanding' therefore referred to the 'interpretation of the world by people' and not 'human understanding', as the tradition of German translations assumes. ' Understanding ', ' reason ', ' will ' and other metaphysical terms were replaced by observable activities or processes . Hume found the basis for his new philosophy by looking at anatomy or physiology , human behavior and his own thinking. His considerations and conclusions ( reasonings ) were the content of his philosophizing.

Hume rejected all previous metaphysical philosophies and their dogmatic ways of thinking because, in his view, they were based on far-reaching theories instead of observation. Observing, looking at human behavior and thinking as well as the conclusions or his assertions from them belonged to the 'experimental method' of his philosophizing. His experiments differed from those in the natural sciences in that they were not 'made' in the laboratory, but only observed by chance and could be collected by him. He incorporated contemporary medical research into human nature and how it works in his philosophizing.

From Hume's point of view, the physique provided each person with what he needed for his actions and thoughts. Human ideas arise from similar 'impressions' or their copies of the 'ideas', which are connected in an associative way and completed by fantasizing. The natural view that causality is observable is u. a. conditioned by the specific characteristics of human thought. He therefore recommended researching your own perceptions , what people see and feel and their communications, both for human beings and within the sciences, very carefully, instead of prematurely assuming that things are as they are at first sight seem to be. He only wants to relate his own assumptions to what he can look at together with others and thus compare.

Historians of philosophy agreed, and largely agree, that David Hume is the greatest philosopher to ever write in English, alongside John Locke . The Scottish sensualist and skeptic took a position in the English-speaking area that was and is at least comparable to that of Immanuel Kant in the German-speaking area. However, this high esteem has only been a phenomenon of the last few decades.


Experts of the 18./19. Century, who read Hume's texts with a view shaped by Kant's philosophy, came to the conclusion that epistemology was at the heart of Hume's philosophy. A Kantian-influenced tradition of interpretation emerged. From this traditional point of view, what representatives of this interpretation tradition believed to find in Hume as epistemology is still discussed today. In Hume research this is known as a piecemeal interpretation of Humean philosophy and is being worked on.

The basis of knowledge

Hume started out from human nature . He used the term nature among others. a. rather incidentally on anatomical-physiological processes - then he spoke of 'fabric' - but above all on the actions shaped by inclinations ('passions') and the way of thinking ('understanding' or 'imagination') of people. He examined both in himself and others. The irritability of nerves has been a partially justifiable assumption of anatomists and physiologists since the 17th century. Theories arose about how and how nerve stimuli - also known as sensations -, stimulus processing in the brain and muscle movements are related and which fluid makes this connection possible. The metaphorical term animal spirits, already used by Descartes and also found in Hume, was used to denote this unknown fluid . Contemporary anatomy and physiology, with regard to the irritability of nerves, assumed that human nature did not need a spirit to sustain itself .

In his treatise on human nature , Hume stated that nerve stimuli ('sensations') and the perceptions associated with them are the basis of human action and reflection. These perceptions vary according to their strength and vivacity.

"All perceptions of human thought can be traced back in two different ways, which I would like to call impressions and ideas ."

The impressions are the lively and strong perceptions (sensations) as due to hear , see , feel , love , hate , desire or want to occur. For what people perceive less impressively and less lively, Hume used the colloquial term idea z. B. in connection with activities ('operations') of the brain such as thinking , remembering and fantasizing . 'Thinking' or 'thought' should be an accurate rendering of idea .

Starting from these assumptions, Hume formulated the basic thesis of his sensualism : All ideas , however complex they are, can be derived from impressions (strong, lively sensations). So people connect two already acquired ideas “golden” and “mountain” - which they have already got to know earlier - when they think of a 'golden mountain'. People can get an idea of ​​a 'capable horse' because they know 'capable' from their own experience and associate horses with 'impressions' or 'ideas' (weak, lifeless sensations). In short: Everything that people think about and with which they develop complex ideas of something comes from nerve stimuli ('sensations'), or perceptions , more precisely impressions .

Or - to put it philosophically - all of our ideas , i. H. weak perceptions are simulations of impressions , i. H. livelier, more pronounced perceptions. "

The perceptions and his observations based on observations ( experimental reasonings = 'assumptions, assertions') were the starting point for Hume's philosophy of man , which he called human science and which in his time within the learned republic of others under the term Moral Philosophy on the subject of time have been done. He considered his sensualistic turn in moral philosophy to be productive and innovative:

I claim that on the one hand there is no question of concern whose answer should not be included in SCIENCE ABOUT HUMANS. On the other hand, no question should be able to be answered correctly until this SCIENCE is known. So if I plan to lay the foundations of human nature open, I plan to design an entire scientific building that is on an almost entirely new basis. The only one, as I assume, from which research can be carried out with some degree of certainty. "

The problem of the outside world

The problem of the outside world is the philosophical question of whether the external things around us exist independently and differently from our perceptions. Hume addressed this problem et al. a. in his treatise on human nature . He stated that the belief in the existence of the outside world cannot be supported by rational justifications. According to his basic sensualistic thesis, the senses are the only source of our knowledge of the outside world, and these provide us with only perceptions , but not the slightest indication that our views or interpretations are caused by anything outside of themselves.

The function of the senses is likely to be unsuitable for deriving the idea (idea) that things continue to exist after they have long since disappeared from our senses. We come to contradicting statements when we claim that. [...] The senses only deliver individual perceptions without the slightest hint of something outside and different from us. "

Yet man cannot help but believe in the existence of the outside world. According to Hume, nature has left us with no choice (“Nature has not left this to [man's] choice”).

He asked about the reasons for this strong belief.

If I now ascribe a real and physical existence to these perceptions, something happens in consciousness that is difficult to explain, but which I would like to try. "

Those sensory stimuli to which we ascribe an existence independent of us differ from the others in a noticeable constancy and coherence : If they are not observed for a while (one looks away from the desk), then sensory stimuli previously made can either be recreated (by looking back at the desk) or the changes are comprehensible (the desk has been moved, but this only changes its position, not its appearance). According to Hume's conjecture, people perceive the fact that all sensory stimuli appear interrupted on the one hand and are then resumed in almost the same way as a contradiction. They try to resolve this contradiction through the 'imagination' of a real independent existence of the object, which they believe to be true. It is questionable whether Hume meant object permanence by this, as developmental psychological theories interpret this phenomenon.

The problem of personal identity

According to Hume, there is no self or I . In his explanation he again made use of his basic thesis of sensualism: If there were the self , or I , then this idea would ultimately have to be derived from a sensation ('sensation' or 'impression'). For Hume, however, there is only a constant sequence of impressions and ideas or bundles of 'perceptions' in the human head , no constant or uniform sensory impression that holds everything together and could therefore be equated with the self .

Hume pointed out that there are other cases in which identity is ascribed even though it is not actually there. A ship on which a plank is exchanged is still regarded as the same, although, according to Hume, it can no longer really be equated with the previous ship, since after the repair it is partly made of a different material.

Hume tried to show how the sequence of perceptions is understood as something identical, how the generalized fiction of an ego can come about . This fiction arises from the close connection of the perceptions in humans. On the one hand there is a continuous stream of perceptions and on the other hand the different perceptions influence each other causing each other, in that impressions evoke corresponding ideas through association and these in turn can generate impressions . The important thing here is remembering, which allows people to visualize past perceptions . Ultimately, it is this connection of perceptions that leads people to summarize the sequence of impressions (strong, lively sensations) in a unit, which is then called the I.

Free will

Hume advocated a form of compatibilism in the free will debate . His argumentation strategy was based in particular on a certain concept of freedom. In Hume's view, acts of freedom should be defined in such a way that they are caused by the will and desire of the agent, not by the fact that they have no cause, since an act without cause and necessity does not exist.

A liberal action is therefore that action that is caused by internal causes and not by external ones (i.e. not without a cause, but has a cause of a different type ). For example, a person has the free choice to rest in a state or to move, provided that they are not prevented from doing so by chains as a prisoner. The will to rest or to move is an internal, liberal cause, while the chains are an external cause that force the agent to act. In this interpretation of the concept of freedom, deterministic concepts can be combined with freedom in a compatibilism.


While the problems of the outside world and personal identity were already discussed by the empiricists George Berkeley and John Locke , Hume is considered to be the actual initiator of the philosophical problem of causality. First, he emphasized the importance of the cause-effect relationship for any empirical epistemology: the only way to get information that goes beyond one's own experience lies in causal relationships. For example, I know of the murder of Julius Caesar by witnesses who witnessed the process and later wrote it down or passed it on in another form, so that this fact has found its way into new history books, one of which I read. At each of these steps information about the cause and effect relationship is passed on so that the sentences in a modern history book can be said to be effects of the event of Caesar's assassination, otherwise they would not be true.

Hume pointed out what, in his opinion, is what all causal processes have in common. First of all, cause and effect must always be spatially adjacent. One event could affect another over a certain distance, but only if there is a chain of neighboring events between the two. Then the effect always occurs later than the cause. But these conditions are not yet sufficient together, there must be a third element, a force or necessity that works from one event to the other, so that it is certain that the second event is based on the first. But it turns out that this necessity can neither be observed nor inferred. From the liquid and transparency of the water z. B. not be deduced that it can suffocate a person.

According to Hume, cause-effect sequences differ from merely coincidental spatio-temporally adjacent events in that many similar cases can be observed in the former. And therein lies the link that is seen as necessary. If a person has often seen the sequence of similar events, he forms the expectation of the other due to his habituation to one event. According to this, natural laws only describe observed regularities and no necessary link between cause and effect. Any other effect is conceivable and does not contain any logical contradiction. Hume was well aware that his theory, according to which the necessary link does not lie in the nature of the causal processes, but rather in the mind of the human observer, must provoke. In this context one speaks of the Hume problem .


Similar to the thoughts on causality, the induction problem is also a problem newly discovered by Hume. It is the most respected part of his philosophy to this day.

Here the practice of learning from experience, which is eminently important for an empirical epistemology, is called into question. A learning process takes place, for example, when, given the fact that bread has nourished him in the past, someone concludes that it will continue to nourish him in the future. As already pointed out in the considerations on the causality problem, the “causal forces” of bread lie hidden and cannot be deduced from its observable properties. There is therefore no rationally justifiable argument that bread will actually nourish in the future. The attempt to bring about such an argument by invoking a "principle of uniformity", which says that the future will resemble the past, must fail: Such a principle could only be justified from experience and thus implies what needs to be proven, namely the authorization to learn from the past already ahead.

It is ultimately habit (see above) that leads people to expect that bread will nourish them again if this has repeatedly been the case in the past. Indeed, man must have such an expectation and, in that sense, learn from experience. From a practical point of view, this urge can be seen as entirely beneficial. Nevertheless, from the point of view of reason, this practice is irrational for Hume.

Practical philosophy

Hume's statue in Edinburgh


Hume is considered to be an important representative of a so-called "ethics of feeling". His concept of ethics, which he developed in his work An Inquiry into the Principles of Morality and in more detail in the treatise on human nature , sees morality as rooted in the sensual perception (seeing, hearing, touching) of people. Contemporaries such as B. Shaftesbury used the term moral sense. From Hume's point of view, moral behavior is learned from examples of the actions of other people. If people (children) perceive the behavior of other people as positive or pleasant, this can stimulate their own positive behavior.

“This is how the statement that people have a moral sense denotes nothing more than what individuals perceive as very pleasant when they consider a certain behavior (action) of another. ... I don't want to go any further than this assertion. "

Hume's conception of an ethics of feeling also shows his fundamental skepticism towards rationality: "It does not run counter to reason if I want the destruction of the whole world rather than a scratch on my finger." Hume also comes to the conclusion through this skepticism that rational insights alone can never motivate action. Ratio, on the other hand, can make affirmative or negative judgments, but for Hume these are not moving forces for action. For Hume, the level on which moral actions take place is always an emotional one. Undoubtedly, for Hume, the intellect is still an indispensable factor for morality: It provides information about the nature of the facts, can show us the meaning of cause and effect and ultimately also direct us to certain actions. But all of this must be based on a willingness to trust reason. And according to Hume, this willingness comes from the world of feelings. Moral judgments can only be made if both the emotional world and the mind are involved in this judgment. Hume writes: “Human nature consists of two main factors which are necessary for all of its actions, namely the inclinations and the understanding; only the blind activities of the former, without guidance from the latter, make people unsuitable for society. "


Hume's work on political philosophy and social theory received little attention in Germany. In economics he is considered to be the originator of the quantity theory of money . This theory anticipated some of David Ricardo's ideas about comparative cost advantages and thus about division of labor and foreign trade .

No ought from being

In the field of practical philosophy, Hume's thesis “No ought to be from being” has received a lot of attention. The dictum “No ought can be derived from being” is a short version of Hume's statement that moral judgments are not based solely on the knowledge of the relationships between concepts or the descriptive knowledge of individual facts. A prerequisite for this is that, according to Hume, reason alone cannot influence emotions ( passions ). This provocative thesis, which Hume emphasizes on the sentence Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions (“Reason is and should also only be a slave of passions”), he justifies as follows: The objects of reason have a propositional Salary, d. i.e., they can be true or false. Emotional impulses such as fear, joy, desire etc., however, cannot be true or false, so the mind cannot influence them either. The feeling can, however, be directed towards something, and this is where the understanding comes into play: When a person feels fear, reason can devise ways and means of avoiding or weakening it. But even in such a case the original impulse does not come from reason. It can therefore make end-means considerations, but, according to Hume, itself cannot set original ends.

From this it follows that no ought can be inferred from being: That morality has an influence on emotions and actions is shown in the fact that people can often be influenced by moral regulations. Since reason alone, according to Hume, cannot have such an influence, moral precepts cannot be derived from principles of reason alone.

For Hume, therefore, the reprehensibility of a crime, such as murder, does not lie in an objective feature of the event, but in the feeling of disapproval that a person feels internally when confronted with the event. The compassion thus is of great importance in determining moral behavior.

From a practical point of view, however, according to Hume, it hardly makes a difference whether virtue and vice are objective traits of an action or subjective feelings in the viewer (cf. subjectivism ): For the viewer they are nonetheless real, and he becomes behavioral regulations, for example align the laws of a country accordingly.



Revisions and translations
  • An investigation into the human mind . [Based on the London 1898 edition] Translated and edited. by Raoul Richter ; Unchanged reprint Hamburg 1973 (= Philosophical Library. Volume 35); 12th edition, ed. by Jens Kulenkampff, Meiner, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-7873-1155-6 .
  • Dialogues about natural religion. (Dialogues concerning Natural Religion.) 7th ed. Meiner, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 978-3-7873-1157-6
  • A treatise on human nature. (A Treatise of Human Nature.) Volume 1, transl. & Ed. Theodor Lipps. Meiner, Hamburg 1989, ISBN 978-3-7873-0921-4
  • Outline of a new book, titled: A treatise on human nature, etc. (1740) - Letter from a nobleman to his friend in Edinburgh (1745). Engl.-dt., transl. u. ed. v. Jens Kulenkampff. Meiner, Hamburg 1980, ISBN 978-3-7873-0489-9
  • The natural history of religion. About superstition and enthusiasm. About the immortality of the soul. About suicide. Trans. U. ed. v. Lothar Kreimendahl , 2nd ed. Meiner, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 978-3-7873-1451-5
  • Political and Economic Essays. Trans. V. Susanne Fischer, ed. v. Udo Bermbach. Meiner, Hamburg 1988, ISBN 978-3-7873-1265-8
  • An examination of the fundamentals of morality. (An Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals.) Ed. Karl Hepfer. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht , Göttingen 2002, ISBN 978-3-525-30601-7
  • An Inquiry into the Principles of Morality. (An Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals.) Ed. Manfred Kühn. Meiner, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 978-3-7873-1355-6
  • About suicide and about the immortality of the soul . Two essays. Translated from English by Holger Hanowell. Reclam, 2018. ISBN 978-3-15-019471-3 .


Broadcast reports

Web links

Wikisource: David Hume  - Sources and full texts (English)
Wikisource: David Hume  - Sources and full texts
Commons : David Hume  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Works by and about David Hume at Open Library

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Individual evidence

  1. Scotland changed the calendar in 1752.
  2. Kirchner, Friedrich / Michaëlis, Carl: Dictionary of basic philosophical terms. Leipzig, 5th edition, 1907, pp. 173-175. zeno.org ; Bertrand Russell argued that Hume had destroyed the foundations of empiricism. See Bertrand Russell : A History of Western Philosophy. New York 1945 (Book IV, Part I, Chapter 17).
  3. Completely translated as David Hume: My life. In: David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind. Edited by Jens Kulenkampff. 12th edition, Meiner, Hamburg 1993, pp. LI-LXI.
  4. ^ Scotlands People Connecting Generations. Biographical data
  5. ^ Gerhard Streminger: David Hume. The philosopher and his age. A biography. CH Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-61402-6 , p. 54
  6. Biographical data on the parents
  7. Cf. David Hume: My life. S. LI f.
  8. Cf. Gerhard Streminger: Hume with self-testimonies and picture documents. Reinbek / Hamburg 1986, pp. 17-24.
  9. Cf. Heiner F. Klemme: David Hume for an introduction. Pp. 11-15.
  10. David Hume: My Life . S. LIII.
  11. a b David Hume: My life . In: David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind . Edited by Jens Kulenkampff. 12th edition, Meiner, Hamburg 1993, p. LIV
  12. Cf. Heiner F. Klemme: David Hume for an introduction. P. 16f. Jens Kulenkampff: David Hume. 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 1989, p. 18.
  13. Contained in David Hume: Essays Moral, Political, and Literary . Edited by Eugene F. Miller, 2nd ed., Indianapolis 1987.
  14. Cf. Jens Kulenkampff: David Hume: An investigation over the human mind S. LVI; there also the following quote.
  15. Of the Passions , Of Tragedy , Of the Standard of Taste . On the originally planned for the same volume publication of the writings Of Suicide and Of the Immortality of the Soul had to be dispensed with under pressure from William Warburton , 1759-1779 Bishop of Gloucester . Both works were published posthumously as Two Essays in London in 1777 . Cf. Heiner F. Klemme: David Hume for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 2007, p. 189 f.
  16. Jens Kulenkampff. David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind . S. LVIII; there also the following quote.
  17. See Jens Kulenkampff. David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind. 12th edition, Meiner, Hamburg 1993, p. LVIII f.
  18. Heiner F. Klemme: David Hume for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 2007, p. 16 f .; See David Edmonds & John Eidinow: Rousseau's dog. Two philosophers, one quarrel and the end of all reason. DVA , Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-421-04251-4 .
  19. ^ Letter from Dr. jur. Adam Smith to William Strahan, Esq., Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, Nov. 9, 1776 . In: David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind. Edited by Jens Kulenkampff. 12th edition, Meiner, Hamburg 1993, pp. LXII-LXX, here p. LXIII.
  20. See Jens Kulenkampff: David Hume . 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 1989, p. 20; there also the following quote.
  21. Jens Kulenkampff: David Hume. 2nd edition, Beck, Munich 1989, p. 21 f .; Heiner F. Klemme: David Hume for an introduction. Junius, Hamburg 2007, p. 7 f.
  22. Gilbert Ryle : Hume. In: Jens Kulenkampff (Ed.): David Hume. An investigation into the human mind. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-05-002866-1 (Classics Explaining, Vol. 8), pp. 7-18, here p. 17.
  23. See Gerhard Streminger: David Hume , p. 154.
  24. Hume: Treatise on human nature I.1.2.1 : “ impressions excite the nervous system. This is how people notice hot or cold, I am thirsty or hungry, I am happy or I am suffering or something else. I suspect that copies of such impressions are created in the brain that outlast the impressions . I call these copies ideas . "
  25. See David Hume: Treatise on human nature. 1.4.2.
  26. See R. Hall: Fifty Years of Hume Scholarship. A Bibliographical Guide. Edinburgh 1978. CW Hendel: Studies in the Philosophy of David Hume. Indianapolis / New York, 2nd edition, 1963. SN Hampshire: Hume's Place in Philosophy, in: DF Pears (ed.): David Hume. A symposium. London 1963, p. 3 f.
  27. Cf. u. a. the first German translations of Humescher Schriften by Johann Georg Sulzer : David Hume's Philosophical Attempts on Human Knowledge. 1754, Ludwig Heinrich Jakob: David Hume. Treatise on human nature. Halle 1790/1 and Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann : David Hume's study of the human mind. Jena 1793.
  28. See Ernst Topitsch & G. Streminger, Hume. Darmstadt 1981, p. 48.
  29. Andreas Vesalius had provided his anatomy atlas , written 1538–1542, with the title "De humani corporis fabrica On the factory of the human body . This atlas was probably available to Hume at the University of Edinburgh.
  30. "Sylvius (Franciscus DE LE BOE) [...] believes that all physiological processes can be explained by chemical processes and fermentations. Thomas Willis (1621–1675) and von Vieussens (1641–1716) tend to attribute everything to the influence of the nerves. WILLIS discovers the 'sympathy' between different organs. "Bernhard Uehleke: The historical and conceptual precursors of" naturopathy "in the 17th and 18th centuries . In: Gross & Keil & Reininger: Medicine in History, Philology and Ethnology. Festschrift for Gundolf Keil. Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 2003, p. 133
  31. Cf. H. Haeser: Textbook of the history of medicine and common diseases. Jena (printed and published by Friedrich Mauke) 1845. Here especially the §§ 496 u. 558. In addition to the research results on brain research by Thomas Willis , Haeser explains the theory of the irritability of the nerves, which Francis Glisson had published in the 17th century in his Tractatus de natura substantiae energetica .
  32. “Our animal spirits might be better translated, then, as life-carrying fluids or vital liquids. John Locke pictured them as "fluid and subtle matter, passing through the conduits of the nerves". They were believed to transmit information between sense organs, brain and muscles. " animal spirits ( Memento of the original from June 6, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.forteantimes.com
  33. See Bernhard Uehleke : The history of ideas and conceptual precursors of "naturopathy" in the 17th and 18th centuries. In: Gross & Keil & Reininger: Medicine in History, Philology and Ethnology. Festschrift for Gundolf Keil. Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 2003, p. 132.
  34. "Andreas Vesal (1514–1564) claimed [...] that valuable philosophical conclusions could be drawn from anatomy." Axel Bauer: Medicine in Renaissance humanism on the way from medieval personal authority to modern subject authority using the example of botany, Anatomy and surgery. In: Gross & Keil & Reininger: Medicine in History, Philology and Ethnology. Festschrift for Gundolf Keil. Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 2003, p. 23.
  35. See Treatise 1.1.1
  36. The translation of 'impressions' with 'sensory impressions' and 'ideas' with 'representations', which occurs over and over again, is a misinterpretation that causes irritation when reading Hume.
  37. See David Hume: An Inquiry into the Human Mind. Chapter II. What is interesting is what Newton said on the subject. From an online publication by Renato Sabbatini, neurophysiologist and director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the State University of Campinas, Brazil: “The theoretical existence of an energetic organic 'fluid' different from water was speculated by many natural philosophers at the time ( 17th century). The great scientific genius Sir Isaac Newton wrote in the Principia Mathematica (1687) of 'a certain most subtle spirit which pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies,' and that 'all sensation is excited, and the members of animal bodies move at the command of the will, namely, by the vibrations of this spirit, mutually propagated along the solid filaments of the nerves, from the outward organs of sense to the brain, and from the brain into the muscles. ' Electricity was not the subject of much scientific interest at the time! "
  38. ^ Treatise, Introduction, 6.
  39. ^ Treatise 1.4.2
  40. See Treatise 1.4.6
  41. George Berkeley expressed himself in a somewhat wider context in his treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge on the subject as follows: “There can be no 'idea' of 'spirit', 'will', 'understanding' ',' Mind 'or' myself '. ... The words also do not denote any instances of the perceiver ... they merely denote different effects that he produces. ... Of course, it must be admitted that the perceiver is allowed to associate at least generalizing ideas or sensations with 'spirit', 'will', 'understanding', 'mind' or 'himself' in order to be able to assign a meaning to these words. "(Ibid . § 27)
  42. See Inquiry 8.73
  43. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia
  44. a b Treatise 1.3.2
  45. See the example in Treatise 1.3.4
  46. Inquiry 4.1
  47. See also Treatise 1.3.14
  48. See Inquiry 4.2 .
  49. Inquiry 5.1 .
  50. Treatise on human nature.
  51. David Hume: A Treatise on Human Nature: Books I – III. Translated by Theodor Lipps. Meiner, Hamburg 1973, ISBN 3-7873-0297-2 , p. 153.
  52. a b Gerhard Streminger: David Hume: the philosopher and his age. Beck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-406-61402-6 , p. 173.
  53. David Hume: A Treatise on Human Nature: Books I – III. Translated by Theodor Lipps. Meiner, Hamburg 1973, ISBN 3-7873-0297-2 , p. 237.
  54. See Treatise 2.3.3
  55. Treatise 3.1.1
  56. Asteroid Hume in the Small-Body Database of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA (English)
  57. ^ Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature
  58. ^ Reprinted as David Hume: Essays Moral, Political, and Literary . Ed. Eugene F. Miller, 2nd ed., Liberty Classics, Indianapolis 1987 ISBN 0-86597-055-6 (Based on the 1889 edition of TH Green and TH Grose. With details of the variants according to this edition. First 1985; this Edition slightly different from 1987); again Nabu Press, 2010 ISBN 1-142-81193-X online .pdf 2.27 MB. German see below.
  59. A partial print from the latter = chap. XX: Johanna von Orléans bei Friedrich (ed.) & Dorothea Schlegel , (translator), in ders .: Collections of memoirs and romantic poems of the Middle Ages from old French and German sources, introductory & new ed. by Liselotte Dieckmann , Critical Schlegel-Ausg. Vol. 33, Schöningh, Paderborn 1980, ISBN 3-506-77833-1 , pp. 43-58
  60. frequent editions in various publishers, also as a Reclam booklet
  61. Excerpts in Martin Morgenstern , Robert Zimmer Ed .: State foundations and historical meanings . Series Meeting Point Philosophy, 4: Political Philosophy. Bayerischer Schulbuch Verlag BSV, Munich 2001 ISBN 3-7627-0325-6 & Patmos, Düsseldorf 2001 ISBN 3-491-75641-3 , pp. 101-103. German version of essays and treatises on several subjects. Essays moral, political, and literary , see works above
  62. This is a revised version. New edition of the Schöningh edition. Above all, the appendix is ​​new, containing Hume's travel descriptions on a diplomatic legation trip (he himself only as secretary) through Germany, Austria and Italy in 1748 for the first time in German (upstream of the Rhine and Danube). Longer excerpts from it in Streminger: A Scot on the Rhine. In: Die Zeit , March 10, 2011, p. 22, also online