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Category Archives: Hume

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    The British Empiricists: Locke, Berkeley, and Hume

    John Locke (1632-1704)

    From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke’s monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics. It thus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to know and what one cannot.
  • David Hume: On Property

    Hume wrote that “it is well known that men’s happiness consists not so much in an abundance of [the commodities and enjoyments of life], as in the peace and security with which they possess them” (Essays 54-5). This, for Hume, was the purpose of government, and may well be one of the foundational thoughts concerning his notions of property. Property, to Hume, was not the metaphysical extension of self that Locke had argued, but was a conventional idea that arose out of society. When only a few people associate with each other in a simple relationship, then the concept of property – as a self-realizing concept – has no existence or purpose (i.e. utility). In a rather Aristotelian concept of man’s nature as a political being, Hume argues that men naturally form society – upon the foundation of families – and that the concepts of justice and property are only known through social utility. For Hume, justice and property are artificial and conventional ideas.

  • David Hume: On Conservatism

    Riddled throughout both US and international politics are the terms of conservatism and liberalism. Generally speaking, these terms are thrown about with little understanding of their origination or of their meaning, but, when elicited, feelings of emotion, sentiment, and passion are often triggered as epithets of self-identification. David Hume is often described as “the father of Conservatism,” but what is conservatism? Conversely, some have called David Hume a liberal (or, a classical liberal), but what is liberalism? In finding whether David Hume was a conservative or liberal political philosopher, we can define the foundational basis for both liberalism and conservatism.