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15_enquiry - 24.01 Classics of Western Philosophy Prof Rae...

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24.01 Classics of Western Philosophy Prof. Rae Langton IV. Hume Lecture 1 5 . Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1. Biographical notes . David Hume spent most of his life (1711-1776) in Edinburgh, apart from a period at La Fleche, the Jesuit college where Descartes had studied. He worked as a diplomat and a librarian, but held no university position, having been turned down for the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh in 1744, on the grounds of his skeptical and heretical opinions. His work as librarian enabled him to write a monumental History of England , which eventually gained him financial independence. He was a great friend of the economist and philosopher Adam Smith, who wrote about his death: Thus died our most excellent, and never to be forgotten friend; concerning whose philosophical opinions men will, no doubt, judge variously. . . but concerning whose character and conduct there can scarce be a difference of opinion. . . . The extreme gentleness of his nature never weakened either the firmness of his mind, or the steadiness of his resolutions. His constant pleasantry was the genuine effusion of good nature and good-humour, tempered with delicacy and modesty, and without even the slightest tincture of malignity, so frequently the disagreeable source of what is called wit in other men. . . And that gaiety of temper, so agreeable in society, but which is so often accompanied with frivolous and superficial qualities, was in him certainly attended with the most severe application, the most extensive learning, the greatest depth of thought. . . Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime
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