David Hume [Qoted, in part, from 1998
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia: David Hume, born May 7, 1711, died Aug. 25, 1776, was a
Scottish empiricist philosopher and historian. At the age of 12 he entered the University
of Edinburgh, where his family intended that he should study law. He showed little taste
for law, however, and even less for business, which he briefly pursued after leaving the
In 1734, Hume decided to devote himself to a life of learning and went to study in France, where he wrote A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40). He was disappointed by the indifferent reception that this received, but Essays Moral and Political (1741-42) was more popular and successful. In 1744 he attempted to gain a professorship at Edinburgh, but his religious views were regarded as too skeptical by the Calvinistic authorities. Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1748) and An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751) were efforts to put the primary doctrines of his earlier Treatise into more popular form. In 1752, Hume became librarian of the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh, an opportunity he used to produce a six-volume History of England (1754-61); this work went through many editions and became a standard text. Although Hume lived in France, where he was a favorite of Paris society, and in London, he spent most of his life in Edinburgh reading, writing, and editing. He died there after a lingering illness during which he faced death with calm and even humor. His Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779), a criticism of rational arguments for the existence of God, was published posthumously to avoid further controversy with the religious establishment. During his lifetime he enjoyed a wide reputation as an essayist, economist, historian, and man of letters. Today he is chiefly known for his philosophical writings, which are widely studied, particularly in Great Britain and the United States.
...we may conclude, that the Christian Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: And whosoever is moved by Faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.
Divinity and School Metaphysics:
...If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity and number? No. Does it it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.