Life, Laughter, and the Lord : An Autobiography

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Hume was partly stung and partly persuaded into publishing the relevant correspondence between them with a connecting narrative A Concise and Genuine Account of the Dispute Between Mr. Hume and Mr. Rousseau , In , somewhat tired of public life and of England too, he again established a residence in his beloved Edinburgh, deeply enjoying the company—at once intellectual and convivial—of friends old and new he never married , as well as revising the text of his writings.

He issued five further editions of his History between and as well as eight editions of his collected writings omitting the Treatise , History , and ephemera under the title Essays and Treatises between and , besides preparing the final edition of this collection, which appeared posthumously , and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion , in which he refuted the cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of God held back under pressure from friends, it was published posthumously in He died in his Edinburgh house after a long illness and was buried on Calton Hill.

The mob had heard only that he was an atheist and simply wondered how such an ogre would manage his dying. Yet Boswell has recounted, in a passage in his Private Papers , that, when he visited Hume in his last illness, the philosopher put up a lively, cheerful defense of his disbelief in immortality. That Hume was one of the major figures of his century can hardly be doubted.

So his contemporaries thought, and his achievement, as seen in historical perspective, confirms that judgment, though with a shift of emphasis. Some of the reasons for the assessment may be given under four heads:. It exemplifies the classical standards of his day.


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It lacks individuality and colour, for he was always proudly on guard against his emotions. The touch is light, except on slight subjects, where it is rather heavy. Yet in his philosophical works he gives an unsought pleasure. Here his detachment, levelness all on one plane , smoothness, and daylight clearness are proper merits. It is as one of the best writers of scientific prose in English that he stands in the history of style. In its own day, moreover, it was an innovation , soaring high above its very few predecessors. It was fuller and set a higher standard of impartiality.

His History of England not only traced the deeds of kings and statesmen but also displayed the intellectual interests of the educated citizens—as may be seen, for instance, in the pages on literature and science under the Commonwealth at the end of Chapter 3 and under James II at the end of Chapter 2. It was unprecedentedly readable, in structure as well as in phrasing. Persons and events were woven into causal patterns that furnished a narrative with the goals and resting points of recurrent climaxes.

That was to be the plan of future history books for the general reader.

How far he influenced Adam Smith remains uncertain: they had broadly similar principles, and both had the excellent habit of illustrating and supporting these from history. His level of insight can be gathered from his main contentions: that wealth consists not of money but of commodities; that the amount of money in circulation should be kept related to the amount of goods in the market two points made by the Anglo-Irish philosopher George Berkeley ; that a low rate of interest is a symptom not of superabundance of money but of booming trade ; that no nation can go on exporting only for bullion; that each nation has special advantages of raw materials, climate, and skill, so that a free interchange of products with some exceptions is mutually beneficial; and that poor nations impoverish the rest just because they do not produce enough to be able to take much part in that exchange.

He welcomed advance beyond an agricultural to an industrial economy as a precondition of any but the barer forms of civilization. Hume conceived of philosophy as the inductive science of human nature, and he concluded that humans are creatures more of sensitive and practical sentiment than of reason. Hume was one of the influences that led Auguste Comte , the 19th-century French mathematician and sociologist, to develop positivism.

In throwing doubt on the assumption of a necessary link between cause and effect, Hume was the first philosopher of the postmedieval world to reformulate the skepticism of the ancients. His reformulation, moreover, was carried out in a new and compelling way. The attraction of that contention for analytic philosophers was that it seemed to provide a solution to the problems arising from the skeptical tradition that Hume himself, in his other philosophical role, had done so much to reinvigorate.

The Whole Autobiography in one file

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Top Questions. David Hume died on August 25, Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Hume argued first that every simple idea was derived from some simple impression…. For it was from Hume that Madison seems to have acquired a view about factions that turned…. The Romanticist generations could neither agree that life was a concourse of unfeeling atoms nor trust…. Aesthetics, the philosophical study of beauty and taste.

It is closely related to the philosophy of art, which is concerned with the nature of art and the concepts in terms of which individual works of art are interpreted and evaluated. To provide more than a general definition of the subject…. It is impossible to be an author in Edinburgh without being conscious of the many previous generations of writers for whom the city has provided sustenance and inspiration. History at your fingertips.


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Plato, ancient Greek philosopher, student of Socrates c. View More. Article Media. He has lived indoors for the past twenty years. He slightly relaxes his self-imposed rule at the times of our holy festivals, when he goes as far as his front sidewalk! The beggars gather there, because Saint Bhaduri is known for his tender heart. Then it will levitate or hop about like a leaping frog. Even saints who do not practice a formal yoga 4 have been known to levitate during a state of intense devotion to God.

Do you attend his evening meetings? I am vastly entertained by the wit in his wisdom. Occasionally my prolonged laughter mars the solemnity of his gatherings. The saint is not displeased, but his disciples look daggers! The yogi was inaccessible to the general public. Worldly people do not like the candor which shatters their delusions. Saints are not only rare but disconcerting. Even in scripture, they are often found embarrassing!

I followed Bhaduri Mahasaya to his austere quarters on the top floor, from which he seldom stirred. The contemporaries of a sage are not alone those of the narrow present. The sage locked his vibrant body in the lotus posture. In his seventies, he displayed no unpleasing signs of age or sedentary life. Stalwart and straight, he was ideal in every respect. His face was that of a rishi, as described in the ancient texts. Noble-headed, abundantly bearded, he always sat firmly upright, his quiet eyes fixed on Omnipresence. The saint and I entered the meditative state.

After an hour, his gentle voice roused me. He offered me some mangoes. His own face was always serious, yet touched with an ecstatic smile. His large, lotus eyes held a hidden divine laughter. They are discovering India anew, with a better sense of direction than Columbus! I am glad to help them.

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