David Hume’s Moral Scepticism 1984

The first part of the present work is primarily concerned with the biographical details that prepared and accompanied the publication of A Treatise of Human Nature.

In the first chapter, significant space is dedicated to Hume’s illness and to the moral crisis that followed this, taking into account, at least for some more widely-read texts, the common conceptions on the ‘Disease of the Learned’.

In the following chapter, a reference to this illness and to the speculations connected to it is searched for in the very pages of the Treatise.

In the second part of the work, however, the books on the passions and on morals are discussed, although with different criterion, because the academic cannot fail to notice the difference in volume between the literature on the two respective books.

Anyone searching for a general interpretation of Hume or even only of his moral thought in these pages would undoubtedly be disappointed.

Specific topics and problems have been pursued and discussed; it seems that any main path of Humean criticism from the last half century is particularly misleading, that the concept of illness has a major role in the context of the Treatise, and is capable of clarifying its outline.

It may be that concentrating on the constructive aspects of the Treatise, without preconceptions regarding its associationism, and a reshaping of its phenomenalism, is the most favourable direction in which to renew or to correct the interpretation of Hume.

It is hoped that in detail, or due to a specific characteristic of the work as a whole, the academic – more or less an expert on the Scotsman’s philosophy – may find here a useful or valuable suggestion of reading, to be valued perhaps as part of a more complete network of references.

Translated by Isobel Tilley

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